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Jets stay in playoff hunt with 17-10 win over Jags

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MARK LONG | December 10, 2012 05:22 AM EST | AP


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jets guard Brandon Moore gathered his fellow offensive linemen in the visiting locker room and delivered a not-so-subtle halftime message.

"He told us, `Guys, however you think you played in that first half, we've got to amp it up because we're not getting it done,'" right tackle Austin Howard said. "'What we've done so far has gotten us zero points. So we've got to come together and get the offense rolling.'"

The line responded as well as Moore could have envisioned.

The New York Jets pounded Jacksonville on the ground Sunday, grinding out 116 yards and two touchdowns after the break and pulling out a 17-10 victory that improved the team's postseason chances.

Shonn Greene ran for 77 yards and a touchdown, and Bilal Powell added 78 yards and a score.

"Both those guys found holes because there were holes to be found," Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "It was fun to watch."

New York's second straight win – third in four games – combined with losses by Pittsburgh and Cincinnati left coach Rex Ryan's team a game out of the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff picture.

And the Jets (6-7) have a favorable closing stretch that includes games against Tennessee (4-9), San Diego (5-8) and Buffalo (5-8).

If they keep playing as they did in the second half against Jacksonville, they should have a chance to win them all.

The Jets were shut out in the opening half for the second consecutive week, but they didn't need to change quarterbacks to spark the offense this time around.

Instead, they just hammered the Jaguars (2-11) up the middle.

Greene scored on a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter, and Powell added a 4-yarder early in the fourth. Powell's score made it 17-3 in a game that looked every bit like one featuring two of the NFL's worst offenses.

Sanchez, benched last week in a 7-6 win against Arizona, was hardly a factor. Neither was backup Tim Tebow, who spent his homecoming on the sideline.

Although the Jaguars turned Sanchez's first-half fumble into a field goal, he ended up having a decent day. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 111 yards, including a 37-yard completion on third down that helped the Jets milk the clock in the closing minutes.

"I tried to put extra emphasis on being smart with the ball," Sanchez said. "I thought it was a good, efficient day for all of us."

Tebow, who sat out the last two games while recovering from two broken ribs, was healthy enough to serve as New York's backup quarterback in his hometown. But he stayed on the bench.

"I never felt comfortable enough to go with him in the wildcat," Ryan said.

The Jets ran it just fine without him, finishing with 166 yards on 42 carries. They had 116 yards in the second half.

"Coming into this game, we felt like the Jets were going to run the ball," Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "We didn't feel like they could beat us throwing the ball and then they rush for over a 100 yards. You have to give them credit. They were the more physical group, and that decided the game."

The Jaguars were inept on offense most of the day.

Montell Owens ran for 91 yards, including a 32-yard score in the fourth that seemed to catch the Jets by surprise on a second-and-17 play.

But Jacksonville mustered little else.

Chad Henne had a pass tipped and intercepted near the goal line. Rookie receiver Kevin Elliott, starting in place of Cecil Shorts III, dropped two balls and was flagged for illegal touching on a key play with about a minute left. Guard Eben Britton was manhandled inside, giving up three sacks.

Josh Scobee missed a 55-yard field goal attempt wide left to close out the first half. And the Jaguars just missed blocking two punts.

Especially gut-wrenching for Jacksonville was Dwight Lowery's touchdown return that was overturned in the second quarter.

Lowery picked up Jeremy Kerley's fumble and took it 62 yards for an apparent score that would have given Jacksonville a 10-0 lead. But officials reviewed the play and ruled that Kerley had touched Lowery down. The Jaguars punted five plays later.

"We need things like that to happen for our team to help us win and help us with momentum," Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said. "We're coming up short with them in one way or another."

NOTES: Jets rookie WR Stephen Hill injured his right knee in the second quarter and did not return. Ryan said tests would determine the extent of the injury. The Jets already have WR Santonio Holmes on injured reserve. ... Owens' rushing touchdown was his first since December 2008. ... Owens, CB Derek Cox and TE Marcedes Lewis all left the game for Jacksonville, but later returned.

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