Commentary

Flight Boys soar for Jets in win

Cotchery, Edwards and Holmes each played a key role in Gang Green's win over Pats

Updated: January 17, 2011, 12:20 AM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

JetsAl Bello/Getty ImagesCotchery, Edwards and Holmes combined for 168 yards receiving against the Patriots.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery have started something, running with arms outstretched. The flight boys are so popular now that, after a 28-21 win over the Patriots, a dozen or so Jets buzzed through the tunnel at Gillette Stadium and into their locker room.

For Edwards, it was an emotional night.

"That emotion it stems from this whole season," Edwards said. "There's been doubt, there's been scandal, there's been myself, my situation, there's things that just keep coming up. We're the underdogs yet we feel we're the best team in the league, that was that emotion -- Rex Ryan in the end zone, everybody pulling flight boys although there's only three of us -- that's the emotion we need, that's what we've been feeding off all year."

The wide receivers could soar after their collective performance, avenging the most painful loss of the season, taking passes deep and being targets as quarterback Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes. For Edwards and Holmes -- who both scored -- this is the moment they were brought to the Jets for.

"I know they delivered," Ryan said. "And again, [general manager] Mike Tannenbaum really put this team together for this time of year. You've got to have a team that can beat New England and a team that can beat Indianapolis at their place and Pittsburgh, hopefully."

Edwards felt the Jets' offense was clicking in a way it hadn't in a while. Yet when the Patriots scored their first touchdown of the game to cut the lead to 14-11 at the end of the third quarter, it wasn't a comfortable feeling for the Jets no matter how well things were going.

"Going into halftime we were 14-3 but I didn't feel like we had closed the door, or put our foot down and say you have to take it from us," Edwards said.

The door could have opened wide at any moment, but especially with a dwindling lead to start the fourth quarter. In the huddle, the Jets talked about answering right away, not letting the Patriots play with a lead when they've been burned that way before.

"We knew we had to answer, we had to answer on that drive," Cotchery said.

Sanchez needed just four plays to get the ball back in the end zone. The first was a 58-yard pass to Cotchery, setting the team within 12 yards of the goal line.

"On that play, Mark and I were on the same page and it just blew open," Cotchery said. "I stayed on that move. He expected me to stay on the move. After that I was just trying to make a play and the guys did a great job of rallying around me to try to get me to the end zone. It ended up setting us up with seven points and that's what we were looking for."

Shonn Greene ran the ball for a 1-yard loss, another pass to Cotchery for 7 yards and then Sanchez hit Holmes in the back corner of the end zone for the score.

Cotchery led the team with five catches for 96 yards, Holmes had three catches for 20 yards and Edwards had two catches for 52 yards.

Holmes will return to Pittsburgh for the second time this season. It's the team he won a Super Bowl with in 2008, when he was named the game's MVP. He isn't ready to talk about what it would mean to beat the Steelers again to get back there. His team is the Jets now.

"The Jets are flying," Holmes said. "We're taking off. Wherever our next stop is we're trying to fly in and fly out."

Jane McManus is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow her on Twitter.

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Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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