By Brad Carroll
Depressing doesn't begin to describe the New York Jets' 17-16 loss to the New England Patriots in the second to last game of the season Sunday afternoon. Rex Ryan couldn't lead his team to one last victory over the coach, quarterback and team both he and every single Jets fan wants to beat more than any other. In his last chance, Ryan couldn't get the job done against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
It was the same old story for the Jets, as the defense played great, completely shutting down an offense that everyone thought couldn't be stopped, but the offense couldn't pull their weight in getting what would have been an uplifting victory in this terrible season.
The loss drops the Jets record to 3-12 with one game against the Miami Dolphins remaining on the schedule next Sunday. The Jets will have a tough time finding the will to win that game, which is a direct result of falling short against the Patriots in what players considered their Super Bowl. The Jets came agonizingly close to winning, but the end result was another devastating loss.
Here is a look at the players that did their part in trying to beat New England, and get our Game Balls, and those players that couldn't get the job done, with Game Falls representing the coal in their stocking. Surprisingly enough, it isn't easy filling either list.
David Harris: The Jets linebacker had a team-high 10 tackles, which put him over the 1,000-tackle mark for his career. Harris had six solo stops, a tackle for a loss, a half-sack and added a quarterback hit against New England. He might have played his final home game in Green and White Sunday, however, as Harris is a soon-to-be free agent.
Marcus Williams: The Jets cornerbacks actually played well against the Patriots, and Williams came through with what should have been the biggest play of the season. Williams intercepted Brady in the fourth quarter, giving the Jets excellent field position with the chance to regain the lead late in the game. We all know how that worked out, however. He added seven tackles and had three pass knockdowns in the game.
Jeff Cumberland: He finally had an impact on offense from the tight end position, catching three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. Cumberland has the ability to be a playmaker, but the Jets didn't take advantage of that potential this season. Another lost opportunity with plenty of blame to go around.
Geno Smith: He played solid at times, completing 17-of-27 passes for 210 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland. But Smith proved yet again he's not the quarterback of the now or future. He threw a killer interception late in the third quarter that the Patriots eventually turned into what would be the game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Smith later took a horrible sack with about five and a half minutes to play that turned a possible 42-yard field goal attempt to take the lead into a 52-yard kick that Nick Folk had partially blocked. The Jets had just intercepted Brady, giving the Jets the ball at the Patriots' 30, but Smith actually lost yardage after getting a huge gift from his defense. The sack was just another example of Smith not understanding game situation and what it takes to win games.
Nick Folk: In both games against the Patriots this season, Folk had the opportunity to put the Jets ahead with late-game field goals. The first kick, in Week 7 when the Jets still had a chance to make the season meaningful, was blocked with no time left to effectively eliminate the team from playoff contention. The second, Sunday with over five minutes to play, was blocked again, this time tipped by Vince Wilfork, ruining another opportunity to put the Jets in the lead late in the fourth quarter. Folk has had the worst season of his Jets career this year.
Eric Decker: He had just two catches for 21 yards. He was targeted four times in the offense, not at all numbers you'd expect from a No. 1 wide receiver.