ARLINGTON, Texas – New York Jets coach Todd Bowles isn’t worried about winning any beauty contests right now.
He just wants to win.
The New York Jets kept themselves firmly in the AFC playoff race by slipping past the Dallas Cowboys 19-16 on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.
“It’s good to string some games together,” Bowles said. “Playoffs or not, we have to string some games together. It’s a good time to start playing some good football. It wasn’t pretty today, all of them are not going to be pretty, but good teams win the ugly games.
“We’re on our way to becoming one of those types of teams if we can keep it up.”
The Jets improved to 9-5 after their fourth consecutive win despite an uneven showing in all three phases of the game. New York is a one-half game up in the AFC wild-card standings over Kansas City and Pittsburgh, which are both 8-5 and play Sunday.
Jets kicker Randy Bullock atoned for a missed extra point and field goal by nailing a 40-yard field-goal with 36 seconds remaining for the win.
“He came back and made the game-winner and that says a lot about the guy,” Bowles said.
The Cowboys had tied the game at 16 on Dan Bailey’s 50-yard field goal with 1:55 left.
New York quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick moved the offense 58 yards, most of it coming on a 43-yard strike to
little-used receiver Kenbrell Thompkins down the sideline. A series of runs set up Bullock’s game-deciding kick.
“When we had to have it at the end there, I thought our guys stepped up and made some great plays,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick completed 26 of 39 passes for 299 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
Jets receiver Brandon Marshall had 74 yards on four catches. Fellow receiver Eric Decker had 55 yards on six receptions, including a 3-yard score that put New York up 16-13 earlier in the fourth quarter.
The Jets have AFC East rival and defending Super Bowl champ New England next week at home.
“We have to clean up a lot of things before we get to them,” Bowles said.
The Cowboys fell to 4-10 and were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Dallas’ only postseason hope was winning the NFC East.
That’s impossible now, despite the other three teams in the NFC East sporting losing records (6-7) going into Sunday.
The Cowboys began the season with Super Bowl aspirations.
“For us this year that’s not going to happen,” coach Jason Garrett said. “That doesn’t diminish the work we put in, the competitive nature of our football team and the fight that everyone demonstrated.”
Dallas made it a game behind backup quarterback Kellen Moore, who saw his first live game action since starring at Boise State. The fourth-year pro nearly overcame three picks by leading the Cowboys to 13 points after replacing starting quarterback Matt Cassel, who was ineffective in four series.
Moore finished 15 of 25 for 158 yards. His final interception sealed the Jets’ victory.
“Take the good with the bad,” Moore said. “At the end of the day we didn’t do enough good things to win, but we did have some good things happen out there.”
Garrett didn’t commit to Moore starting next week at Buffalo.
Dallas running back Darren McFadden ran for 100 yards against the league’s top rushing defense. The Jets came into the game allowing less than 80 yards rushing per game. Dallas had 133.
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (four catches for 50 yards) had the team’s lone touchdown.
Moore had the Cowboys in position to extend their 10-9 halftime lead midway through the third quarter. Facing a second-and-goal from the 6, Moore locked in on Bryant but was intercepted by safety Calvin Pryor in the back of the end zone.
Fitzpatrick gave it right back.
Dallas cornerback Terrance Mitchell, signed from the practice squad Friday, had his first career interception two plays later.
Bailey followed with a 38-yard field goal for a 13-9 advantage.
The Cowboys came out aggressive on the game’s opening drive, using misdirection plays like an end around to receiver Lucky Whitehead that went for 33 yards.
But once in the red zone, the Jets held firm. A pair of incompletions by Cassel forced Dallas to settle for Bailey’s 27-yard field goal.
On the next possession, Cassel gave New York a gift. After losing his balance on a pump fake, Cassel tried to throw the ball away, but instead lofted it into the waiting hands of cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The turnover didn’t end up costing the Cowboys. The Jets drove inside the 5-yard line, but Dallas got the ball back after stuffing running back Chris Ivory on fourth-and-1.
The Jets didn’t stall on their next march. They went 60 yards, with backup running back Bilal Powell going the final 12 yards for the first touchdown of the night. Bullock missed the extra point.