The New York Jets were feeling pretty good on the flight back from over the pond after improving to 3-1 with a 27-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 4. Todd Bowles' bunch would win the following week, too, topping Washington and getting off to a surprising 4-1 start.
Meanwhile, the loss cost Joe Philbin his job, with Dan Campbell taking over as interim coach of the struggling Dolphins.
The Jets (5-5) are 1-4 since, mired in a stretch of inconsistency that has seen them slip from early-season sensations to trying to remain in the playoff hunt.
Must-win at MetLife Stadium on Sunday?
"No, I like to stay away from that term," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "Every game, we're out there trying to win."
But a victory would go a long way in helping get New York back on track. The Jets are tied with Houston and Buffalo on the outside looking in — and the Texans and Bills each have the tiebreaker after wins over New York the last two weeks.
"I think we're awake," Bowles said when asked if the team needed a wakeup call. "That's the problem. I just think we need to execute better."
The Dolphins (4-6) haven't been to the playoffs since 2008, and might need to sweep their final six games to end the drought.
"Everybody in this locker room believes we're going to win out and make the playoffs," center Mike Pouncey said.
The Dolphins are 3-3 under Campbell, who has something in common with Bowles — they have both been interim coaches with Miami. Bowles took over for the fired Tony Sparano in 2011.
Miami heads to New York having won its last three visits to the Meadowlands and six of its past seven.
"We are more aggressive than we were the first time they played us, and for the most part we've been able to stay in games," Campbell said. "That game got out of control on us and we ended up being one-dimensional the last time we played them, which is kudos to them."