The New York Jets were luckier than they were good on Sunday. The rest of the AFC East was just plain bad.
Catching a series of breaks in Detroit, the Jets beat the Lions 23-20 in overtime behind quarterback Mark Sanchez's first 300-yard passing game.
"Obviously we feel fortunate we got the win, but we don't care -- we'll take it," said Jets coach Rex Ryan. "That's what good teams do, find a way to win."
The Lions' gaffes started in the third quarter with a missed extra point that proved costly. Kicker Jason Hanson left the game briefly with an injury, forcing the Lions to turn to Ndamukong Suh, their 307-pound rookie defensive tackle, to attempt the point after. Instead of a 14-10 lead, Suh's kick bounced off the right upright to keep the deficit at three.
A Lions touchdown by Nate Burleson early in the fourth quarter was answered by a 1-yard sneak by Sanchez with 2:46 left. After the Jets defense forced a three-and-out, Sanchez got the ball back with 1:40 to go and drove his team 60 yards on seven plays to set up Nick Folk's game-tying 36-yard field goal at the horn.
"He's (Sanchez) at his best when he's not thinking and he's just a California boy playing football" said Jets receiver Braylon Edwards, who caught a 76-yard touchdown pass in the first half.
The Jets, however, may never have equalized if the Lions took a more conservative approach at the two-minute warning. Facing a third-and-six, Lions quarterback Drew Stanton -- who replaced injured starter Matthew Stafford in the fourth quarter -- threw an incomplete pass, taking six seconds off the clock. A run could have wasted significantly more time with the Jets out of timeouts.
"I didn't make myself clear enough that we shouldn't worry about taking the lost yardage play right there because the clock obviously was important," said Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
"They gave us about 40 more seconds to work with," said Jets offensive lineman Damien Woody. "That was huge."
New York's game-tying drive was further
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helped by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Lions linebacker Julian Peterson for a late hit on LaDainian Tomlinson.
On the second play of overtime, Sanchez, who threw for 336 yards, hit Santonio Holmes for a 52-yard gain. Following two short runs by Tomlinson, Folk connected from 30 yards for the game-winner.
The win gives the Jets (6-2) a share of the division lead with the New England Patriots, who lost on Sunday like the rest of the AFC East:
* In Cleveland, the 3-5 Browns snapped the Patriots' five-game winning streak. Browns running back Peyton Hillis gashed the Patriots' defense for 220 total yards and two scores in a 34-14 rout.
* The Miami Dolphins (4-4) lost on the road for the first time this season, falling to the Baltimore Ravens (6-2) 26-10. A rejuvenated Ravens defense intercepted Chad Henne three times and held the Dolphins to less than 22 minutes of possession.
* Playing in their annual Toronto game, the Buffalo Bills (0-8) remained winless. The Chicago Bears (5-3) secondary picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick twice in the fourth quarter in a 22-19 win.