EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Rex Ryan found plenty of things to brag about after his New York Jets upset the Saints 26-20 Sunday. His impressive string of wins over his twin wasn’t the main one.
Oh, Rex mentioned beating brother Rob, the New Orleans defensive coordinator, for the seventh time in 10 matchups. How could he not, given the competitive nature of the twins, something they got from their father, Buddy, who went 55-55-1 as an NFL head coach?
But there were so many other aspects of yet another victory in an odd-numbered game that thrilled the Jets boss.
“All right, I beat my brother again. Just kidding,” Rex said with a laugh. “Yeah, there’s a little extra, but at the end of the day, now you realize that your bro just took a loss, so that’s the tough thing. I pull for them every single week except one.”
The Jets (5-4) win every other week. They tied the 2005 New England Patriots for the longest such string to begin a season, according to STATS.
This win was built on big plays by Rex’s pride and joy, the defense. The offense and special teams came up with some huge plays, too.
“We didn’t know how we’d win and all that, but we told our team, ‘All I know is we’ve got a team that believes and fights until the end and we find a way,’ ” Rex Ryan said. “And that’s really what we did.”
Nick Folk remained perfect this season by kicking four field goals, the defense held Drew Brees and the high-scoring Saints (6-2) to six points in the second half, and New York had seven plays of at least 19 yards against Rob Ryan’s D.
Rob was not made available to reporters by the Saints after the defeat.
Interceptions by Demario Davis and Antonio Cromartie and a fourth-and-inches stop highlighted New York’s solid defensive performance, and former Saints running back Chris Ivory rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown.
“They did a really good job scheming us and figuring out how to get those runs on us, how to get Ivory the ball and get some positive plays on us,” said Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who made his 2013 debut after recovering from a knee injury. “They did a very good job and deserved to win this game. Ivory got the ball and had 9 or 10 yards before someone touches him.”
Folk is 23 for 23 on field goals and 14 of 14 on extra points.
“Guys, how about that year?” Ryan said. “It’s not that it’s a given, but you think, ‘OK, Folk Hero, knock it through. Let’s go.’”
New Orleans got two touchdown catches from Jimmy Graham, giving him 10 this season, but did little in the second half, even resorting to a reverse to rookie tight end Josh Hill on fourth-and-inches in the final period.
The brothers hugged at midfield after the game.
The Jets’ offense was opportunistic after getting two takeaways. The second was not Brees’ fault: Nick Toon, son of former Jets star receiver Al Toon, had the ball pop off his hands late in the first half and high in the air, where Cromartie snagged it. That pick soothed the crowd that was getting on Cromartie for two major gaffes earlier in the second period.
Cromartie fell down on Robert Meachem’s 60-yard catch and run. Graham capped that 80-yard drive when he outmuscled Cromartie in the end zone for a 10-yard score.
Brees, who lost one of his favorite targets when Darren Sproles left early with a concussion, shook off a first-quarter interception by Davis with a 51-yard throw to Graham. The powerful tight end beat Jaiquawn Jarrett down the right sideline and dragged the safety the final 5 yards to the goal line.
Often, though, the Saints were out of sync, including using three timeouts on offense in the opening quarter. That cost them when they couldn’t challenge Cromartie’s interception, which led to Geno Smith’s 3-yard touchdown run.
Davis’ interception came on a ball tipped by teammate Dawan Landry, and led to Folk’s 39-yard field goal. Ivory gave New York’s offense its biggest boost with first-half runs of 27 and 52 yards. The second burst came from the Jets 2 and sparked a 93-yard drive to Folk’s second field goal, from 21 yards.
Ivory added a 3-yard TD run in the second quarter, and Folk hit a 47-yarder that barely sneaked over the crossbar, to start the second half.
Garrett Hartley, who missed earlier from 43, made a career-long 55-yarder, drawing the Saints within 23-17. Folk nailed another one, from 45 yards, in the fourth period, and Hartley countered with a 43-yarder.
NOTES: Brees was 30 of 51 for 382 yards with two TDs and two picks. Graham finished with 116 yards on nine receptions. … Smith was only 8 of 19 for 115 yards, but the Jets rushed for 198 with a 5.5-yard average. … Josh Cribbs, in just his third game for New York, had five kickoff returns for 134 yards, three rushes for 12, two receptions for 6, and even completed a 25-yard pass to a fellow newcomer, TE Zach Sudfeld. … Jets WR Jeremy Kerley hurt his elbow, LB Garrett McIntyre hurt his knee, and safety Antonio Allen suffered a head injury.