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Jets hang on to beat Jaguars and end two-game skid

New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33)

New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) celebrates a touchdown during the first half of a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Photo Credit: Lee S. Weissman

In the end, it doesn't matter how it looked.

Sure, it was ugly. And yes, at times, it seemed as if the Jets were trying to give the game away. But after a two-game skid, it's a win they'll gladly take.

Despite several comeback attempts by Jacksonville, the Jets were able to stave off the hungry Jaguars, 28-23, on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

But it wasn't easy.

It took a sack, strip and fumble recovery by 35-year-old Calvin Pace with 5:16 left, a 20-yard touchdown catch by Brandon Marshall with 2:41 remaining and a momentum-killing interception by cornerback Marcus Williams with 40 seconds left to finally put away the Jaguars (2-6).

The running game was a non-factor for the second week in a row as Ivory was held to 26 yards on 23 carries. Eric Decker caught six passes for 79 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown, and Marshall, who is dealing with toe and ankle injuries, finished with four catches for 44 yards. He also recovered an onside kick and a fumble by Ivory late in the game.

"It was a good win against a gritty team," Todd Bowles said. "And we've got to move on."

Up next is a familiar face: Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. But the banged-up Jets (5-3) are down several key players with only three days to prepare before their Thursday night game against their AFC East rival.

Cromartie, who returned a kickoff 54 yards but gave up big plays on defense, left the game with a thigh injury and did not return. Center Nick Mangold (sore neck) also was forced to leave the game and starting right guard Willie Colon was inactive. Also on the horizon is the possibility of surgery to repair a torn ligament in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's left (non-throwing) thumb. He said after the game that it could come as soon as Friday.

But for now, the Jets are focused on correcting their mistakes before shifting their focus completely to the Bills (4-4).

"I think we needed one of these types of wins for character purposes moving on," Bowles said. "We just have to fight to the end. We came through today."

The 20-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick (21-for-34, 272 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions) to Marshall made it 28-16 with 2:41 remaining, but it took the Jaguars only three plays to respond. Jacksonville raced 72 yards in 25 seconds as Bortles threw a 20-yard TD pass to Bryan Walters over the outstretched hand of Jets cornerback Buster Skrine.

"I put that series on myself," Skrine said of the scoring drive, which pulled the Jaguars to within 28-23 with 2:16 left. "I gave up two seam routes. I knew they were running them, they completed them. I should have picked that ball off in the end zone. I missed the ball."

But in the end the Jaguars couldn't pull off the upset, thanks to Williams' interception.

It was the second pick of the day for Williams, who also plucked a Darrelle Revis-tipped pass out of the air in the first quarter. Williams, who struggled the previous week in Oakland, leads the Jets with five interceptions.

Rookie Lorenzo Mauldin also had a breakout performance with two sacks, the first of his NFL career, and Dion Bailey, Sheldon Richardson, Marcus Williams and Leonard Williams each had a half-sack.

The Jets scored 14 points off takeaways, but had they not killed their own offensive momentum and had defensive breakdowns, they wouldn't have found themselves fighting to hold on to the "W" late in the fourth quarter.

One of the biggest offenders was Cromartie, who was beaten on back-to-back plays in the first half by Allen Hurns, first on a 20-yard catch, then a 30-yard touchdown.

Asked about Cromartie, Bowles said: "I thought that was a bad play considering there were 20 seconds left in the half. We knew what they were going to do. Other than that, he was OK."

Said Revis of the win: "It was very critical, especially after Oakland last week. This was a big game and must-win."

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