With one word, Rex Ryan perfectly summed up the Jets' emotions after two months of blown leads, bad quarterback play and frustrating defeats:
The Jets' 20-13 win over the Steelers on Sunday at MetLife Stadium snapped an eight-game losing streak for a team that hadn't won since Sept. 7. A 2-8 record may not seem like much, but it meant everything to the Jets.
They had grown desperate. And after seeing his defense manhandle Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick run circles around the Steelers, Ryan just couldn't help himself.
"For people that count this football team out, you do so at your own risk, your own peril,'' he said. "This team is tough. I've said it the whole time. Not that this win will catapult us into the playoffs, but it's a big win.''
The day began with another flyover -- aimed at the entire organization this time, not just general manager John Idzik. But despite the unfriendly skies and the plethora of Terrible Towels waved by rival fans, the Jets took a 17-0 lead before the first quarter was over.
A ninth straight loss would have set a franchise record for consecutive losses in one season, but the Jets were able to hold on despite an 80-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Martavis Bryant with 1:16 remaining.
Relief was evident in the responses of the players. Said linebacker Calvin Pace: "I feel like we won the Super Bowl, man. It took us so long to get win No. 2.''
Complementary football was the key for the Jets. They had a league-low three forced turnovers in their first nine games and hadn't recorded a takeaway since Week 5 in San Diego, but they had three in the first half (and four total) against the Steelers (6-4).
Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, who started over 2014 first-round draft choice Calvin Pryor, was the star of the day, recording two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a sack in his first start of the season. Roethlisberger completed 30 of 43 passes for 343 yards after entering the game with 12 touchdown passes and 862 passing yards in the previous two games. The Jets sacked him twice and pressured him constantly.
Meanwhile, Vick (10-for-18, 132 yards, two TD passes, no interceptions) made history, becoming the first NFL quarterback to rush for 6,000 yards in his career. More importantly, he jump-started the offense early, delivering a 67-yard strike to T.J. Graham to make it 10-0 on the first play of the Jets' second possession.
"We didn't bring him over from Buffalo for nothing,'' Vick said. "The guy has great speed and runs great routes.''
Ryan said Vick will start in Buffalo after this week's bye. The announcement came as little surprise, considering how much better the Jets have looked with Vick instead of Geno Smith.
"He just gets it,'' Willie Colon said of Vick's leadership in the huddle. "He knows the ebb and flow of the game. His poise and for him to extend plays when we really need it just shows the quality of player he is.''
Beating the Steelers does not a successful season make, but it's something to build on.
"People are going to look at our record and say, 'Oh, the Jets [stink],' '' Pace said. "But we lose games by a matter of three to five plays that determine the games.''
It was a "banner'' week, so to speak, for the Jets, who were able to block out the white noise. On Wednesday, a plane circled practice with a banner calling for Idzik's firing. And before Sunday's game, a plane carried one that read: "Jets rebuilding since 1969.''
"The thing about playing in New York is, it's tough because people are passionate about their football -- which is a good thing,'' Pace said. "Everybody's entitled to their opinion. That being said, I'm proud that everybody stuck together. In situations like that, that's when you get division. Some guys go left, some guys go right. But I really think we got tighter as a team.''
Added Percy Harvin, "The real fans are going to stick with us. The people that come and go, they're going to have their opinions. But this group we've got in this locker room, we're close-knit, we're not going to fall apart. We're just going to keep working hard and hope for good results.''