It was a field day Tuesday for active verbs in the New York sports press – clobbered, pasted, scorched, romped, buried, thrashed. But our favorite descriptive word was on the back cover of that day’s Daily News: “Party’s Over for Jets after Monday Night Disgrace in Foxborough.” (Although ESPN.com’s “Total Meltdown” also deserves a nod.)
That about sums up the Jets after Monday’s 45-3 loss – sorry to use such a weak word here but all the good ones were taken – to the Patriots. The Jets do have one of the best records in the AFC, but it’s hard to remember the last team to go all the way after losing by 42 points this late in the season to a division rival. It’s also hard to remember the last team to win a Super Bowl after being held without a touchdown in three games, which is where the Jets stand after their opening day 10-9 humiliation against the Ravens and their 9-0 Halloween humiliation versus the Packers. (Sorry to repeat ourselves, but we’re running out of appropriate phrases.)
What’s the point in analyzing a game that the Jets lost by 42 points? Yes, we know they have come back strong twice this year after big losses. After the flub to the Ravens they surged back to ass whip New England 28-14 (all the more impressive as they were down 14-0 in the first quarter), and after losing to Green Bay they rebounded to win four in a row. We feel fairly confident that they will take out their frustrations on the Dolphins this Sunday, but let’s face it, even if they do – and the Patriots could well lose to the Bears in Chicago.
Even if that happens that way, New England will still be ahead of the Jets in the race for the all-imporant home field advantage in the playoffs by virtue of their having outscored the Jets 59-31 in their two meetings. (In case you were thought Bill Belechick was just being an asshole by running up the score last night, he actually had a good reason – not to say that he isn’t an asshole.)
In the New York Times, Judy Battista is correct when she writes that the Jets “looked painfully desperate and ill-prepared in the biggest game of the year.” But she’s wrong when she says they were ill-advised to run “a slow no-huddle offense, something Sanchez enjoys but which goes against the ground-and-pound personality and strength of the Jets.:
In fact, the Jets outran the Pats by a significant margin — 152 yards to 101 and 5.0 yards per try to 3.9. If you just looked at the rushing stats, you would have thought the Jets won by 7-10 points. The big difference, the overwhelming difference, was that the Patriots could throw the ball far downfield and the Jets simply couldn’t. Throughout the game the commentators kept remarking on how New England was keeping their safeties deep and faking blitzes and stunting to confuse the Jets’ offensive line. That shouldn’t have happened; the Jets’ veteran offensive line is supposed to be their strength and someone – either on the field or on the sidelines – should have been able to make some adjustments to pick up New England’s pass rush and coverages.
No one did. Mark Sanchez was just 17 of 33 for only 164 yards and could scarcely complete a pass downfield in the entire game. (And when he was on the money on short possession passes the Jets, back to their old tricks from the Green Bay game, dropped them.)
Meanwhile – and we’d have to say that this is an ever bigger disappointment than the sputtering of the offense – the Jets’ pass defense, which was number one in the league last year, gave up 326 yards to Tom Brady, who averaged an eye-popping 9.5 yards per throw every time he threw the ball.
Let’s talk about that defense for a moment. For all their erratic play this year, the Jets went into this game having allowed fewer points than any team in the conference, 187. The Pats, in contrast, had allowed 266 points. After giving up 45 points Monday night, the Jets are still third best in scoring defense behind the Steelers and the Ravens – but who’s going to trust them in a big game now? Not only didn’t New York intercept a pass, they didn’t come close, even though their effectiveness against the run forced the Patriots into seven third-and-long situations.
Let’s face it. The Jets’ problems aren’t really on offense or defense, it’s their inconsistent nature, which leaves us not knowing what Rex Ryan’s team is going to deliver from one week to the next. There’s only one thing about Ryan’s Jets that we can rely on: no matter what way they find to lose the big game, they lose it.