By losing to the struggling 1-4 Bills in OT at home on Sunday, the Jets season came crashing down in a myriad of ways. They dropped their third straight and for the first time in 2009, fell out of first place. Mark Sanchez threw FIVE picks, leaving the Jets on eggshells as to how to handle him from here on In, and wondering If and when a benching to save the offense is worth considering. The Jets lost the heart and soul of the defense for the season when NG Kris Jenkins tore his ACL. A defense that only weeks ago was being heralded as the league’s top ranked unit will now have to do it the rest of the way without one of the NFL’s best run stoppers. A loss like this, after rushing for over 300 yards on the ground leaves you wondering as to whether the Jets can go out to Oakland and take care of the Raiders who were the leagues worst team before somehow beating the Eagles at home on Sunday. Who would’ve thought as the 3-0 Jets prepared for New Orleans, only a week away from acquiring the “missing piece” in Braylon Edwards, It could collapse so quickly. Only Jet fans would’ve thought that. We’ve seen it all before. Over and over and over. It’s a movie that won’t stop rewinding and playing itself all over again. Some call it the same old Jets. I just call It the Jets.
The real story of Sunday’s swoon can be picked up with the Jets on top 13-3 and seemingly on cruise control. Thomas Jones had already broken off two giant runs of over 70 yards, one a TD. The Jets defense had sent Bills QB Trent Edwards off In an ambulance after suffering the 2nd concussion of his career. The cold and windy Meadowlands conditions made it hard to throw quick deep strikes. Midway Into the 3rd the Jets simply needed to move some chains, play some defense, and wait for a Bills mistake in order to gain a short field and put the game away: like good teams do. Instead, the Jets started creating a blooper reel worthy of a best short film nomination at the Cannes film festival next year. This allowed Buffalo back into a game they were out of.
After tying It 13-13 on a Lee Evans TD, The game remained tied until the final minutes. The Bills drove down, wound the clock down and had a 47 yarder to win It into the wind on the last play. Yet K Rob Lindell missed it, forcing OT and a reprieve. In OT, both teams had chances on the other side of the 50, and threw them away. Both QBs trading interceptions before the Bills settled down and drove for the game winning FG. The game winner by Lindell coming after Sanchez’s mind boggling 5th pick, at the Bills 42 with 6:25 left. The Jets had a 49 yard FG attempt into the wind minutes before with Jay Feely (who nailed a fg Sunday to for a new Jet record) but punter Steve Weatherford bobbled the snap. A Dwight Lowry Int of backup Ryan Fitzpatrick thwarted the ensuing Bills drive before the fatal Sanchez pick gaveIit back to the Bills for the final time.
This loss was a sickening one for the Jets and a typical one for all those who follow Gang Green . How can a team lose when Jones rushed for 210 yards including a 71 yard TD run? Leon Washington even added 99 yards on the ground In the loss. That’s over 300 yards on the ground. Prized acquisition Edwards managed only 3 catches for 40 yards. Buffalo, a team that managed only a FG the week before in a loss at home to putrid Cleveland somehow found a way with a backup QB, In the winter conditions, to get It done.
To keep pace in a division with Tom Brady, these games must become wins for the Jets. They don’t need to be 59-0 wins like the Pats gave their faithful on Sunday against hopeless Tennessee, but they must be games won by taking control and keeping the pedal to the metal. Maybe the Jets don’t have the talent that the fans thought they had. Maybe Mark Sanchez Is not ready to start in the NFL. Maybe Rex Ryan does not come gift wrapped and ready, and still has some learning to do. These unanswered questions are not a form of panic. They are the result of going out against a Buffalo team that can’t score , whose coach Dick Jauron Is on the hot seat, whose defense is missing key starters, and blowing a 10 point second half lead at home..
“By no means is it over,” Bart Scott said after the loss. “There are a lot of teams having this conversation and they’re 0-6 and they know realistically they can’t win. We are who we are. We’re a 3-3 team.. at the crossroads. We have to go to the West Coast and lay a tough game. We haven’t earned the right to say games are easy. All games are going to be tough. We have to go out there and get it fixed.”
Scott Is on the mark when he says it’s not over. Yet the truth Is this season can go one of two ways from here. Jet fans know the path to the way things usually go from here, downhill with the speed of an an avalanche. Whichever way It goes, It will do so without Jenkins. Let’s see If Rex Ryan can instead carve a brighter direction for a franchise that can never, ever, even for a split second, enjoy prosperity. A team that consistently blows the must win games. An organization that regardless of the talent that is brought in, invents ways to lose during the few seasons that actually offer hope. Hope that more often than not , turns to a glimmer of promise, before crashing and imploding on the landing pad.
LOOKING BACK ON THE THREE KEYS:
Jet defense needs to rebound: Miami was a disaster:
The wildcat and Chad Henne had their way. Sunday the Jets couldn’t shut down Ryan Fitzpatrick. This after knocking out starting QB Trent Edwards. Fitzpatrick made key throws and moved the chains with his feet as well
Dustin Keller vs Bills LB:
In windy Giants stadium (the Jets are the only franchise on Earth that plays home games in another teams stadium) Keller was the key. The safety valve. The one guy that could provide Sanchez with a rhythm that would extend into confidence. Instead the double digit targets to Keller amounted to two catches. Awful day between the two. Poor communication. These two need to play catch outside In a windy parking lot and forget about cozy Florham Park. This ain’t sunny Los Angeles Mark.
The conditions only worsen as the calendar moves to the winter months.
Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish vs Jets secondary:
The Bills have two speedy WR to go along with Terrell Owens. Shut them down and the Bills are, well, the 2009 Bills. Driving towards FGs. Sunday Evans got loose for the first time all season to tie the score. His first productive game all year. Unable to keep them under warps, the Jets ended up in a 13-13 tie late third quarter after controlling the game all day.