Different day, same story for Jets' D

12/27/2010 - NFL New York Jets

CHICAGO -- The pained look on Dwight Lowery's face said everything.

"I'm sick," he said. "We're all sick."

No, he wasn't referring to a flu bug. The New York Jets safety was talking about another virus, a malady that has infected the entire defense.

The Jets were terrible in Sunday's 38-34 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, surrendering five touchdowns (three in the third quarter) with a multiple-choice listing of reasons for the lousy performance.

Poor deep coverage. No pass rush. Bad tackling.

Right answer: All of the above.

On one play, Jay Cutler's 25-yard touchdown pass to Devin Hester in the third quarter, the Jets lined up with only 10 men on the field -- inexcusable and embarrassing. Nickelback Drew Coleman, left alone in the slot against the fastest man on the field, was torched on a back-shoulder pass by Cutler.

"It's tough, man," linebacker Bart Scott said. "That third quarter was a whirlwind. I don't even know what happened, it went so fast. It was just shot after shot."

Who'da thunk it? With two highly ranked defensive teams, Sunday's matchup figured to be a close, low-scoring game, but it turned into a seven-on-seven drill. And Cutler, rebounding from a brutal start, got the best of the Jets. He completed only 13 of 25 passes, but they went for 215 yards and three touchdowns.

"Obviously, we aren't going anywhere [in the playoffs] if we don't play better defense than that," Rex Ryan said.

Ryan was a ball boy for the Bears when his father, Buddy Ryan, coordinated the celebrated 1985 Bears defense. Sunday's meltdown is a blight on the family legacy.

The Jets got off to a solid start, confusing Cutler by playing more zone than their usual man-to-man. The highlight was an interception by Lowery, who returned it 20 yards for a touchdown to give the Jets a 14-10 lead. In the second half, Cutler figured it out. The Bears adjusted nicely, attacking the secondary with vertical passes.

In addition to the Hester touchdown, Cutler beat Lowery on a 40-yard scoring pass to Johnny Knox and torched cornerback Antonio Cromartie on a 26-yard touchdown strike to Knox. Going into the game, the Jets had allowed only two touchdowns of 21 yards or more. Cutler hit them for three. In fact, Cutler completed 60 percent of his passes in the 21-and-up category, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"We came into it knowing we were going to have to take a few shots, go vertical on them," Cutler said. "We knew our speed would be hard for them to keep up with. When they're face-guarding like that, I'm just going to put it up and let the receiver make a play. It's really hard to stop."

The Jets generated little pressure on Cutler (two sacks), who has success against the blitz. On eight dropbacks, the Jets blitzed at least one defensive back. On those plays, Cutler wasn't sacked, threw two touchdowns and compiled a 101.6 passer rating, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

"You feel hurt, you really feel hurt," cornerback Darrelle Revis said.

Asked for the root of the problems, Revis said, "Communication issues, mental errors, it goes down the line."

The Jets began the season predicting their defense had the potential to make history, but they've already allowed 297 points -- 61 more than last season. Ryan vowed to get it fixed. Lately, he's been saying that a lot.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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