Last updated: Wednesday November 19, 2008, EST 8:04 AMBY J.P. PELZMANSTAFF WRITERWhen the Jets upended perennial nemesis New England on the road last week to take over first place in the AFC East, it was a watershed victory. The kind that suggests a team in the midst of a magical season.
And certainly the Jets' stadium co-tenants, the Giants, proved last season that improbable runs are very much possible in today's ever-changing landscape of pro football, in which dynasties have about the same life expectancy as fruit flies.
But if the Jets really want to maximize what could be their only Brett Favre-fueled season, Eric Mangini needs to start living in the moment more often.
The Jets' coach gave his players off until today after their big win, and that was a good start. But it's hoped that Mangini also used the time wisely to think about his excessive conservatism in crucial situations, and how to correct it.
Though it's true the Jets got the win against New England, they were quite fortunate that the Patriots didn't win the overtime coin toss. The Jets' defense was on its heels throughout most of the fourth quarter, and it seemed to be one of those games where the team that got the ball first in overtime would win.
But there might not have been an overtime if Mangini had let a future first-ballot Hall of Famer — that would be Favre — throw the ball on third-and-2 from the Jets' 31 with Gang Green leading by seven; or had his team pressure Matt Cassel on the final drive of regulation, instead of sitting back in soft coverage and letting him drive his team down the field, slowly but surely.
When the Giants were in the middle of their playoff run last season, they didn't lay back on Dallas' final drive in the divisional playoffs. Instead, they went after Tony Romo, even though they didn't sack him on that possession. And they did the same thing to Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, dropping him once on New England's final desperate drive after the Giants' last touchdown.
Nobody knows if the Jets will have the January to remember that the Giants had, but their chances likely will be a lot better if Mangini plays to win more often.