A close shave was all it took to jump-start Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets' offense. Now the question is this: Will "FitzMagic" ditch the scruffy beard for good?
"The beard should never, ever come back," Brandon Marshall joked.
Said Eric Decker: "He said last time he did that, he threw for six touchdowns. Maybe each week, we'll pitch in and give him a trim."
Fitzpatrick fell short of tying that TD mark, but he came pretty close. And because of him, the Jets were all smiles after Sunday's game.
In his 100th start, Fitzpatrick threw for four touchdowns, including two to Marshall, to lead the Jets to a 38-20 drubbing of the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium.
It was the type of team win the Jets (6-5) desperately needed to keep their AFC wild-card playoff hopes alive. And with the Steelers' loss in Seattle later in the day, the Jets moved behind the Chiefs and Texans (both 6-5) in the wild-card hunt -- just in time for their rivalry game against the Giants.
"Everything we want is right in front of us," said safety Calvin Pryor, whose bone-rattling hit on receiver Rishard Matthews set the tone for the game. "We just have to keep winning, control our own destiny, and hopefully something good happens."
After losing four of the previous five, the Jets could have folded, but they didn't. "We're a tough-minded team," coach Todd Bowles said. "We're going to show up and fight."
They could have sulked and pointed fingers, but instead, they made football enjoyable again. Said Fitzpatrick: "The theme in the locker room before the game was, let's go out there and have some fun . . . I thought that's what we did today."
Their confidence remains intact and their playoff hopes still are alive. But will Fitzpatrick say goodbye to the beard for good?
"No, I don't think so," he said, smiling. "It was just a little long. But I need it to grow in a little more. I kind of miss it."
Fitzpatrick became the first Jet in more than four years to throw four TD passes, as Mark Sanchez did against the Bills on Nov. 27, 2011. (Coincidentally, Fitzpatrick was Buffalo's quarterback that day, and he had three.) But unlike Sanchez, Fitzpatrick didn't throw an interception. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 277 yards and had 21 yards on five carries.
"We needed to right the ship," he said. "This was an important one for us. That being said, it makes next week even more important."
So what kind of juice can we expect to see during Sunday's Jets-Giants game?
"The same type of juice you got today," Sheldon Richardson said. "Go out there and execute our game plan and make plays."
That's exactly what they did against Miami (4-7). In a 27-14 win by the Jets in Week 4 in London, they held the Dolphins to 0-for-12 on third down and 0-for-4 on fourth down. That trend continued as Miami went 4-for-15 on third down.
The Jets outgained the Dolphins 234-81 in the first half, ran through their leaky line for 137 yards and received a rare special-teams contribution when Jeremy Kerley returned a punt 58 yards.
"We won how we were supposed to win," said Richardson, who had a sack, forced a fumble and played some at outside linebacker on his 25th birthday. "We went out there and imposed our will, defensively and offensively."
Chris Ivory (87 yards on 21 carries) capped an impressive performance with a tackle-breaking 31-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Marshall had nine receptions for 131 yards, and struggling rookie Devin Smith caught his first touchdown pass, a 16-yarder late in the second quarter.
Filling in for the inactive Darrelle Revis (concussion), Marcus Williams recorded his fifth interception. The Jets kept the Dolphins out of the end zone until 2:30 was left in the third quarter, when Ryan Tannehill threw a 5-yard pass to Jarvis Landry to make it 21-7. But the Jets scored the next 14 points.
Said Bowles: "We got back to the kind of football we played the first five weeks."