By Brad Carroll
For the New York Jets and their fans, Thursday night's loss to the New England Patriots was sickening. The Jets dominated the line of scrimmage, dominated the time of possession, didn't punt until there was under two minutes to go in the third quarter, and still suffered a 27-25 loss.
The Jets were in position to win the game, as Nick Folk lined up for what would have been a game-winning 58-yard field goal. But Folk's kick was blocked and the game and season for the Jets was over. To have any chance at the playoffs, the Jets would have to finish no worse than 8-1 over their last nine games, and there's nearly no chance of that happening.
Coach Rex Ryan was angry and frustrated after the game in his press conference, almost in disbelief that he was talking about a loss considering what the Jets did against the Patriots. The Jets rushed for 218 yards on 43 carries and held a time of possession advantage of 40:54 to 19:06. Even Geno Smith played his best game of the season, leading six scoring drives and didn't turn the ball over.
But of the six scoring drives, four of them ended in field goals, which is the only reason the Jets lost this game. And there was Antonio Allen, who had just about the worst game a safety could have, getting beat for two long touchdowns by Tom Brady, including the game-winning score on a third and goal from the 19.
In our keys to victory for the Jets, they accomplished all three, with only Allen not picking up his end of the bargain. Frustrating doesn't do this loss justice for the Jets. It was downright sickening.
Ground The Gronk
Why It Was Key: The Jets secondary as a whole has to have their best game of the season against New England, especially with Dee Milliner out for the season. It all starts with covering the tight end.
How It Played Out: Rob Gronkowski wasn't a factor at all in the game, catching five passes for 58 yards. But Antonio Allen was the culprit on two long touchdown passes by Tom Brady and that was the difference in the game. The first, Allen chose to cover an underneath route instead of staying deep, allowing Shane Veeren to get behind him and catch a 49-yard touchdown pass. The second was even worse, as Brady hit Danny Amendola on a third and goal from the 19, where Allen was spun around as if he had no idea where to go. The touchdown put the Patriots up by eight midway through the fourth quarter. The Jets did the job on the tight end, but Allen was roasted on two of the biggest plays of the game. The common theme, of course, is Allen probably doesn't even know if he's playing corner or safety every week, thanks to the lack of talent put together by John Idzik.
Run The Rock
Why It Was Key: The Jets need to at least hold their on at the line of scrimmage and take the pressure off the passing game by running it. If the Jets can rush for more than 100 yards, they will have a chance to win the game.
How It Played Out: Chris Ivory rushed for over 100 yards by himself, gaining 107 on 21 carries and a touchdown. The Jets overall gashed the Patriots line for big games on nearly every run. The Jets offensive line owned the line of scrimmage and smacked the Patriots in the mouth. The Patriots got the last laugh, however, ultimately holding the Jets to field goals when it counted most. But the Jets owned the line of scrimmage. Chris Johnson had his best game since Week 1, rushing for 61 yards on 13 carries. Smith added 37 yards on seven runs. Anytime an NFL team rushes 43 times for 218 yards, a 5.1 yard per carry average, you would expect the team to win. It's been that kind of season for the Jets.
Don't Get Lost On Revis Island
Why It Was Key: If Smith is going to throw it to Revis Island, he can't be foolish, as a Darrelle Revis pick could be a devastating blow to the Jets and could end their season in Week 7. But if Smith plays turnover free, and attacks Revis with Decker intelligently, the Jets will be that much closer to an upset. There's no doubt, again, Smith has to play his best game of the year to keep the Jets season alive.
How It Played Out: First, Smith didn't turn the ball over, the first time all season he's accomplished that. He didn't throw an interception for just the fifth time in his 23 career starts. Second, the Jets didn't attack Revis much in the game, but when they did, they had surprising success. Revis shadowed Eric Decker for most of the game, and Decker won the matchup, catching four passes for 65 yards. One came on a perfect 24-yard pass and catch over Revis' attempt to intercept the ball. Smith was 20-of-34 for 226 yards and a touchdown to Jeff Cumberland. We wrote Cumberland, along with David Nelson, Jeremy Kerley and Jace Amaro, needed to step up in this game. Cumberland caught three passes for 50 yards and a score, but the rest didn't pull their weight. Nelson caught one pass for 11 yards. He's just another bit player forced into a big role because of Idzik's lack of personelle knowledge. Kerley caught two passes for 29 yards, with one touchdown being called back because of a holding penalty by Oday Aboushi. Amaro had three catches for 22 yards with a costly drop, the second straight game he couldn't haul in a pass right in his hands. The Jets didn't get beat by Revis, but it wasn't enough to win the game. Sickening.