- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
What it means: The Jets blew a wonderful opportunity to upset the vulnerable Patriots, whose offense was completely out of whack with a depleted cast around Tom Brady. In the end, a savvy quarterback surrounded by a kiddie corps proved better than a kid quarterback (Geno Smith) surrounded by veterans. The Jets had a chance in the fourth quarter, but they made far too many mistakes in crunch time. Making things worse, Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson was carted off with a foot injury late in the game.
Stock Watch: This week, Smith imploded in the fourth quarter. No one said there wouldn't be growing pains for the rookie. He was turnover-free for nearly 50 minutes, but he threw three interceptions in the final 11 minutes. The first interception was a bad decision in the red zone, probably costing his team three points in a three-point game. Having to face the Patriots on a short week is a tall order for any quarterback, let alone a rookie. Smith missed some vertical passes, throwing behind receivers. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did him no favors, calling too many downfield passes. Mornhinweg gave up on the run late in the game.
Careless mistakes: It takes a near-flawless performance to beat a team like the Patriots. The Jets were anything but. They put themselves in a 10-0 hole because of a mental mistake (a blown coverage on Aaron Dobson's 39-yard touchdown catch) and a physical mistake (a fumble by Stephen Hill after a 33-yard reception). Early on, the defense was confused by different personnel packages from the Patriots, and that was the case on Dobson's touchdown. That was just Bill Belichick outcoaching Rex Ryan in those situations. Hill is maddening -- so talented, yet so inconsistent. This is his house of horrors. No Jets fan will forget his killer drop in last season's meeting here.
Implosion: The Jets lost their cool with 38 seconds left, when Willie Colon and D'Brickashaw Ferguson were ejected for throwing punches in a scrum triggered by Nick Mangold, who took a cheap shot at Aqib Talib on an interception return.
The not-so-good-hands people: Smith was victimized by a butter-finger receiving corps -- at least six dropped passes. Clyde Gates had three, including one in the end zone. Hill, Bilal Powell and rookie Ryan Spadola also had drops. The lack of a big-time receiver was blatantly obvious. The Jets' pedestrian wideouts couldn't get much separation against the Patriots' press coverage, forcing Smith to hold the ball and putting extreme pressure on the offensive line. Santonio Holmes made a few nice plays, but he's still not back to his old form.
Dominant D: Save for the busted coverage on Dobson, Ryan's defense was brilliant. It's hard to imagine a defense playing much better against Brady, who completed only 19 of 39 passes for 185 yards. The Jets held the Patriots to 4-of-18 on third-down conversions. If it weren't for Julian Edelman (13 catches for 78 yards), Brady would have been lost. Cornerback Dee Milliner was benched in the second half.