Jets win 4th straight, edge Cowboys 19-16
Ryan Fitzpatrick lacked the efficiency he showed in propelling the New York Jets to three straight wins. Randy Bullock missed an extra point and a field goal. The offense botched a few short-yardage situations.
Regardless, the Jets made it four straight victories for the first time since 2010, beating the Dallas Cowboys 19-16 on Bullock's 40-yard field goal with 36 seconds left Saturday night to get a leg up in the AFC wild-card race.
"Whether it's playoffs or not, we've got to string some games together," coach Todd Bowles said. "It's a good time to start playing good football. Wasn't pretty today. All of them are not going to be pretty, but the good teams win the ugly games."
Fitzpatrick's 43-yard pass to Kenbrell Thompkins set the Jets (9-5) up for a win that moved them a half-game ahead of Pittsburgh and Kansas City in the race for two playoff spots.
"Kind of had tough sledding for a while," said Fitzpatrick, who faces AFC East-leading New England and Tom Brady next week. "There's going to be adversity throughout the game and I thought that was a great sign for us to show that the belief is always there. This is a winning football team."
Kellen Moore replaced an ineffective Matt Cassel at quarterback and gave the Cowboys (4-10) a spark, but it wasn't enough to keep last year's NFC East champions from being eliminated with two games remaining.
Eric Decker caught a 3-yard scoring pass for a 16-13 lead in the fourth quarter, and he and Brandon Marshall set a franchise record with 21 combined touchdowns receiving.
Fitzpatrick threw his first interception since Nov. 22 to give the Cowboys a field goal and a 13-9 lead in the third quarter but came back to direct a 70-yard drive to Decker's score. He finished 26 of 39 for 299 yards.
"He made some timely throws," Bowles said. "He took a bunch of hits during the game. They weren't clicking like they have been the last couple of weeks, but he was calm and he was good and the guys believed in him."
TIED, AND UNTIED: Dallas' Dan Bailey tied it at 16 on a 50-yard field goal that caromed through off the right upright with 1:55 remaining. Moore got the tying drive going by sneaking a pass behind Buster Skrine for a 23-yard gain to Cole Beasley.
The first play after a near-fumble by Fitzpatrick on a sneak for a first down was held up on review, Thompkins got behind rookie cornerback Byron Jones along the sideline before stepping out of bounds at the Dallas 26.
DONE IN DALLAS: The last chance for the Cowboys ended on Moore's third interception when his desperation heave for Dez Bryant went over the outstretched arm of the All-Pro receiver and was caught by Marcus Williams. The Cowboys had four interceptions overall.
"We all start with aspirations," said Jason Garrett, who had already clinched his first losing season as Dallas coach. "For some teams it works out and you get to play in the playoffs. For us this year that is not going to happen. But that doesn't diminish the work everyone has put in."
RECEIVING MARKS: Decker and Marshall broke the franchise mark of 20 combined TDs that they shared with Art Powell-Don Maynard (1960) and Al Toon-Wesley Walker (1986). Marshall tied Toon's franchise record of 93 catches in a season. He had four grabs for a team-high 74 yards.
FOUR AND COUNTING: Moore is the fourth Dallas quarterback this season after Tony Romo twice broke his left collarbone. He played in the regular season for the first time in his fourth season, throwing an interception on his second pass. But he also beat a blitz with a quick toss to All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant for a touchdown and a 10-9 lead.
Cassel, who has started seven games in place of Romo, was replaced after two bumbling plays. The first was an interception when he stumbled and threw blindly to a spot where Darrelle Revis was all alone. The second was a 19-yard sack, not long after he was booed loudly following a three-and-out.
INJURIES: Jets TE Kellen Davis left with a back injury after a hard blind-side hit by Dallas LB Sean Lee. ... CB Dee Milliner (hamstring) and DE Muhammad Wilkerson (head) also left the game, although Wilkerson returned. ... Dallas TE Gavin Escobar tore his right Achilles tendon, ending his season.
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