This WAS a playoff game. This WAS the game that was slated decide the fate of the 4-4 Jets who stare down the barrel of a brutal second half schedule that includes the Pats, Colts, Falcons, Bengals as well as the always tough Bills in Orchard Park. A win on Sunday and the Jets could find a starting point for navigating through a harrowing November and December. It was not to be. A crushing 24-22 loss to the now 5-4 Jacksonville Jaguars, has left the Jets desperate and needing help in order to reach the postseason. A far cry from a 3-0 start that had left many Jet faithful willing to believe this was NOT the “same old Jets.” Well, doubt has crept back into Jet nation.
The Jets gave up 21 first half points and trailed 21-13 at the half. The malaise attributed to perhaps the two week layoff coming off of their bye week. Both S Jim Leonard and FS Kerry Rhodes were quoted saying he team was flat defensively in the first half. That’s a hard pill to swallow for Jet fans, especially since reports had coach Rex Ryan chewing out his team this week to stop the excuses, imploring them to play like a playoff team he was quoted as claiming they are.
Star RB, the little bulldozer, Maurice Jones Drew torched the Jets early and often , with 78 first quarter yards. He finished with 123 on the day. The biggest play of the game however, came on a TD that Jones Drew chose NOT to score on. With the score 22-21 Jets with 1:48 left, the Jets called for “Free Way” a play that allows the opposing team to score in order to get the ball back and have a chance to win. On the first try the Jets mistakenly tackled Drew. “We couldn’t even get that right,” Ryan, never at a loss for words, admitted afterwards. The second time, Drew shrewdly stopped at the one yard line. With no time outs left thanks to wasting two earlier ( to prevent a twelve men on defense flag and the other by Sanchez on the Jags goal line), the Jets were forced to watch the clock wither away. Josh Scobee added the virtual extra point at the gun for the 24-22 Jags win.
This erased the comeback that left the Jets up 22-21 with 5:04 left thanks to a Thomas Jones (21-77 yds) one yard TD plunge. WR Braylon Edwards (3-79 yds) had a key two point conversion knocked out of his hands by the Jags FS Reggie Nelson. The throw was behind Edwards but still catchable. “Nelson is paid to make plays and he made a godd play on that one.” Edwards said. The former Browns WR, known for the dropsies is now 1-8 combined in games played this year with Cleveland and the Jets. His fault? No, but the frustrations is apparent. “It stinks..its not my fault per se but I don’t want to fell like the black sheep.” he added lamenting what so many Jets who’ve come and gone in this franchise’s consistent losing history must feel upon exiting the stadium.
The Jets are not dead yet. They ARE however, on life support. The defense has still yet to create points off of turnovers. The Sanchez to TE Dustin Keller combo, so poised to break out and open up the passing game outside the numbers, is just missing the mark on too many occasions. All parts, including game management by the coaches, need to start clicking fast or this season will be gone by Turkey day.
As for Sunday, has a player ever taken a knee over scoring a touchdown in order to keep the clock moving like Jones-Drew did? Probably not. Only the Jets franchise would be involved in a play like that.
Nonetheless , the Jets need to go to Foxboro and try to begin to erase the ghosts of their Gang Green past that have somehow crept back into the equation. Worse, they need to do it against the furious Pats, their hated rivals, who want revenge from their week two loss at the Meadowlands. Bill Belicheck’s first place crew also will be stinging from the loss at Indy Sunday night that saw them go for a strange fourth and two on their own 28 yard line in order to prevent Peyton Manning one last shot. It backfired.
The 4-5 Jets remain just two games back of the 6-3 Pats. A win would inch them closer to the top of the AFC East and give them the tie breaker over New England. When the dust settles this week, that will be how Rex Ryan must frame this next test. As a game that, with a win, restores hope. To do that, Ryan will have to stop Brady and put the “Same Old Jets” talk to bed again. It’s funny how these negative Green ghosts somehow rear their ugly heads every season.
A LOOK BACK ON THE THREE KEYS TO THE JAGS GAME:
Turnovers: The Jets defense, built off pressure and chaos, again, didn’t get any. End of story.
Thomas Jones vs Maurice Jones Drew. Jones-Drew won the battle in yardage 123 to 77. He also made the play of the day by not scoring on the final drive.
Mike Sims-Walker vs Darrelle Revis: Sims Walker managed a TD catch but didn’t dominate the field. Revis is a big play guy the Jets desperately need
going forward. An interception taken back by a ball hawk shut down corner like Revis, would aid the Jets offense in a huge way.
Follow TJ Rosenthal on twitter@ thejetreport