EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Rex Ryan found plenty of things to brag about after his New York Jets upset the Saints, 26-20, on 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? The 79-year-old Buddy was at the game.
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,’’ said Rex after the Jets (5-4) continued their streak of winning every other game. ‘‘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.’’
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 6 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 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.’’
Folk is 23 of 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 TD catches from Jimmy Graham, giving him 10 on the year, 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 that lost 8 yards.
The brothers hugged at midfield after the game.
The Jets’ offense was opportunistic after getting two takeaways. The second was not Brees’s fault: Nick Toon, son of former Jets star receiver Al Toon, had the ball pop off his hands late in the first half and right to Cromartie. That pick soothed the crowd that was getting on Cromartie for two major gaffes earlier in the second quarter.
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 synch, 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’s 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.