EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For the first three-quarters of the season, the often inept New York Jets offense frequently negated the efforts of a playoff-caliber defense.
But on Sunday, it was the offense -- led by much maligned rookie quarterback Geno Smith -- that rescued the defense and kept the Jets' slim postseason hopes alive.
Smith bounced back from the first benching of his career by accounting for 269 total yards and two touchdowns -- one passing and one rushing -- and the Jets raced out to a 17-point halftime lead before trading scores with Oakland in the second half of a 37-27 win over the Raiders at MetLife Stadium.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Jets (6-7), who remained a game behind Baltimore and Miami in the race for the second wild card in the AFC. The Jets are at a tiebreaker disadvantage because of head-to-head losses to the Ravens and Dolphins as well as a 3-7 conference record.
"We needed that in the worst way, to say the least," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. "Going through three tough games that we lost, this is a big win for us."
It was earned in unorthodox fashion by the Jets, who were outscored 79-20 during the losing streak, and Smith, who had no touchdowns and eight interceptions in his previous five games and was benched at halftime of a 23-3 loss to the Dolphins last Sunday.
Smith appeared as if he might be headed for another quick hook when he was picked off in Jets' territory on New York's second possession. But Smith steadied himself and finished 16-of-25 for 219 yards and one touchdown pass -- his first since Oct. 20 -- while rushing for a career-high 50 yards on six carries.
"That's the mark of this young man -- he's resilient and he's shown that he can bounce back," Ryan said. "It was an excellent performance on his part and really the team in general."
Smith also benefited from another solid game from running back Chris Ivory (18 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown) as well as the presence of his top two wideouts, Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, as well as tight end Kellen Winslow. The trio, which hadn't played together since Sept. 29, combined for 157 yards on 10 catches, including a 25-yard touchdown reception by Kerley.
"We're playmakers and it's our job to go make plays for him," Winslow said.
Smith and the Jets were particularly impressive in the second half, when Oakland scored on all four of its possessions but could get no closer than 10 points because the Jets scored on their first three series.
"We always talk to our team about sometimes you'll need the offense to pick up the defense, sometimes you'll need the defense to pick up the offense," Ryan said. "Clearly today it was one of those days where the offense had to pick up the defense."
The Jets were 5-of-7 on third down in the second half, when third-down scrambles by Smith set up New York's final two touchdowns.
"It was great to be able to do that, to be able to pick up our team," Smith said.
The Jets struggled defensively in the second half, when Oakland running back Marcel Reece raced untouched into the end zone on a 63-yard touchdown and wide receiver Rod Streater caught a 48-yard touchdown pass when the ball sailed over the intended receiver, tight end Jeron Mastrud, as a trio of Jets collided with him.
But the defense and special teams helped the Jets take a 20-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Jets didn't allow a first down following Smith's interception, which didn't result in any points for Oakland when kicker Sebastian Janikowski missed a 52-yard field goal. A second-quarter interception by safety Ed Reed set up a field goal, and safety Antonio Allen extended the Jets' lead to 20-3 when he blocked a punt by Marquette King and recovered it in the end zone.
"We didn't start out fast -- we gave up points, we turned the ball over, we had a blocked kick, missed a field goal, all those things to put ourselves in a hole," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "We were able to score there in the second half and give ourselves a chance. Unfortunately, every time that we got ourselves back in the ballgame offensively by going down and scoring, defensively, we couldn't make it hold up."
Quarterback Matt McGloin was 18-of-31 for 245 yards and two touchdowns for the Raiders (4-9), who assured themselves a losing record for the ninth time in the last 11 seasons -- a span in which they haven't finished above .500. The Raiders had a non-winning record just 15 times in the franchise's first 43 seasons.
Reece, pressed into starting duty because Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden were inactive due to injury, rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown. Streater had seven catches for 130 yards and a score.
NOTES: Oakland QB Terrelle Pryor played one series in the first half, which resulted in a field goal. Coach Dennis Allen said afterward a Pryor-specific series was in the game plan. ... Each team had mild surprises among its inactives. The Jets scratched WR Stephen Hill (knee), who missed the first game of his career after being downgraded to questionable on Friday's injury report. QB David Garrard was also an inactive for the Jets one week after Geno Smith and Matt Simms generated just three points in a loss to the Dolphins. ... Raiders starting RB Rashad Jennings (concussion) was also inactive, 10 days after he was injured against Dallas. Jennings practiced in limited fashion last week and was listed as questionable. ... Jets OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson started his 125th straight game, the longest such streak in Jets history. ... The Raiders made a series of roster moves on Saturday, when they placed FS Usama Young (neck) and LB Kaluka Maiava (calf/ribs) on injured reserve, waived DL Brian Sanford and signed LB Marshall McFadden, CB Chance Casey and S Shelton Johnson off the practice squad.