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Jets survive a close one, stay in wild card race

Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden (20) is tackled by New York Jets linebacker Erin Henderson (58) in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Paul Moseley

The Jets didn’t always look like a playoff team tonight in Dallas. But in the end, they did just enough to survive and remain in the AFC wild card race.

The Jets’ win over the Cowboys improved their record to 9-5, which currently puts them in the lead in the three-way wild card race with the Chiefs and Steelers, both of whom can also improve to 9-5 on Sunday. The Jets don’t control their playoff destiny -- if the Chiefs and Steelers both win out, the Jets will be left out of the playoffs -- but they needed this one, and they got it.

It wasn’t easy. The Jets fell behind early and struggled offensively, with Ryan Fitzpatrick not having one of his better games. And Jets kicker Randy Bullock missed both a field goal and an extra point in the first half. But the Jets got into field goal range in the final minute of the fourth quarter, and Bullock nailed the game-winning kick.

Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel was benched after an ugly interception in the first quarter. Kellen Moore replaced Cassel and had a couple ugly interceptions of his own, and his final interception with just seconds remaining sealed the Cowboys’ fate. Still, Moore looked a little more competent than Cassel and probably did enough to keep the starting job for the final two weeks of the season.

It was not a great game for either team, but it was a good win for the Jets. When you’re fighting for a playoff spot, a win is a win.