The New York Jets' perfect start has been anything but flawless.
Still, it's been plenty good enough. Rex Ryan has them off to the fourth 3-0 start in franchise history and feeling pretty good about themselves.
"I think everybody in the league now realizes that the Jets are real," said Ryan, the second Jets coach to start his career 3-0. "We're for real. And we're a good football team, an outstanding football team."
The other Jets coach to start his career 3-0 was Al Groh in 2000. The Jets started 4-0 that season and finished 9-7 and didn't make the playoffs. It was the only season Groh coached in New York.
After three weeks, the Jets are one of seven undefeated teams during a stretch that included games at Houston and at home against New England and Tennessee. Next up: the 3-0 Saints at New Orleans.
"They put up points on everybody," linebacker David Harris said, "so we've got a handful this week."
But what else is new for the Jets? They had plenty of doubters when they went to Houston to open the season, and shut down the Texans' high-powered offense. They heard about the Patriots' years of dominance over them, and erased all that in Week 2. Then, New York was told of how difficult it would be to beat a Tennessee team desperate for a victory.
Win. Win. And, win.
"Really, I think our team is right where we want it to be, obviously," Ryan said.
And that's even with the running game stalling, the rookie quarterback having a few, well, rookie moments, and the defense suddenly looking vulnerable for a couple of quarters.
"It might not be the prettiest game in the world, but our biggest focus is to win," nose tackle Kris Jenkins said. "If I can get a Super Bowl and be sloppy, I'll do it in a minute."
New York's latest victory, 24-17 over Tennessee on Sunday, was a mix of solid offense early, stingy defense late and outstanding special teams play throughout.
"Special teams were the definite X-factor in the game," Jenkins said. "I know sometimes they don't get the credit the offense and defense gets, but they deserve a lot for the way things have been going."
Ryan also praised the unit, and for good reason. After Mark Sanchez's blast-and-spin touchdown run gave the Jets a quick 7-0 lead, Titans rookie Ryan Mouton fumbled the ensuing kickoff and New York recovered. Five plays later, Sanchez connected with Ben Hartsock on a 2-yard touchdown.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game came in the third quarter with the Jets trailing 17-14. The Jets' offense stalled and was forced to punt from its 19, but Mouton muffed it and Larry Izzo recovered at the Titans 23.
It took four plays for Sanchez to capitalize with a 6-yard toss to Jerricho Cotchery for the go-ahead score.
"They brought us up and gave us momentum to win this game yesterday," cornerback Darrelle Revis said of the Jets' special teams.
As for the defense, it came in ranked No. 1 overall and went nine quarters before giving up a touchdown this season. But then the Jets couldn't fully clamp down on the Titans until the fourth quarter.
"It kind of got away from us a little bit," Jenkins said. "At halftime, everybody came in and relaxed, settled down a little bit and got our composure back and focused on taking care of the things you know you're supposed to take care of."
After failing to get consistent pressure on Kerry Collins for much of the game, the Jets were in his face often down the stretch. Collins got the Titans into Jets territory with just over 4 minutes remaining when Harris stepped in front of his pass intended for Alge Crumpler.
Harris came up big again on the Titans' next _ and final _ possession, sacking Collins on second down and making it third-and-23 from the 33. Collins then threw two deep passes that fell incomplete, sealing the win for the Jets.
"A lot of people are looking for perfection and look for the perfect defense and the perfect scheme and for everything to happen the right way," Jenkins said. "If it doesn't, it's like, 'Oh, God. Here it comes.' But for us, we understand there's going to be times like that and times when we're going to get tested."
The offense was sloppy at times, too, with Sanchez losing the handle on the ball a couple of times. The running game also never got going, gaining just 83 yards, with Sanchez's 14-yard TD run New York's longest.
"You've got to keep pounding it in there and eventually you'll pop it," Ryan said. "I think you win in this league by being able to stop the run when you want to and being able to run the football. Those things haven't changed."