By taking advantage of the New England Patriots' questionable decision after the overtime coin flip, the New York Jets now control their own destiny in the AFC East.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Eric Decker in overtime after Bill Belichick opted to kick the ball after he won the coin toss, leading the Jets to a 26-20 win at Metlife Stadium on Sunday.
Coupled with a Pittsburgh Steelers loss, the 10-5 Jets will reach the playoffs with a win against the Buffalo Bills next week.
"We've got to get the next one to get in and that's how we'll view it," said Fitzpatrick, who threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns. "This is a fun run."
After James White's game-tying touchdown with 1:55 remaining set up overtime, New England's Matthew Slater called heads on the coin flip. The toss was heads, and Slater -- following Belichick's orders -- said the Patriots would kick the ball, ultimately hoping the Patriots' defense could stop the Jets.
"We thought that was the best thing to do," Belichick said, standing by his decision after the game.
"We thought that was the best thing to do." - Bill Belichick on decision to kick off in OT- NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 27, 2015
Agreed. https://t.co/LVQVwVZlsL- New York Jets (@nyjets) December 27, 2015
In NFL overtime, if the receiving team scores a touchdown on its first drive, the game is over. Otherwise -- be it field goal, turnover or punt -- the kicking team has a chance at redemption.
"The captains, when we're told that we want to kick off, we do it," Slater said. "Obviously in that situation, as a player, maybe you're thinking, 'Hey, we want the ball if we win the toss,' but that's not what coach wanted to do."
For Jets safety Calvin Pryor, who was on the field during the coin toss, he didn't believe the Jets would be getting the ball first.
"My face kind of lit up, like: You're really going to give us the ball?" Pryor said.
Added cornerback Buster Skrine: "I'm like: He had to mess it up. He looks to the sideline like: I don't know what I just did. Thanks for letting us get the ball first. I didn't know if it was just a brave call on their side or a mistake. So I was just like, thanks, because we've got a special offense."
The Jets immediately took advantage. Fitzpatrick threw an out pass to Quincy Enunwa, who then ran downfield all the way to the New England 30-yard line for a 48-yard gain.
After Fitzpatrick threw a 20-yard pass to Brandon Marshall to set up first-and-goal at the 6-yard line, he then threw a fade to Decker in the right side of the endzone for the winner.
"They thought they had the right plan," Enunwa said, "and it ended up backfiring."