By Abraham Gutierrez
Going up against the consensus favorites to win this season's Super Bowl LI, the New York Jets went into this week's matchup as nine-point underdogs following the NFL's decision to move the game from Sunday night to a 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff start time. Nevertheless, Todd Bowles' squad surprised everyone by giving Tom Brady and the New England Patriots all that they could handle for about 58 minutes in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The problem is that in order to pull off an upset of this magnitude, a team has to play solid football for 60 minutes. Thus, Gang Green fell short in a heartbreaking, 22-17 defeat. They've now lost three straight ballgames, dropping their record to 3-8 on the season and 1-4 at home.
Offensively, the Jets registered 16 first downs on 10 passing plays, six rushes and one on a Patriots penalty. New York also converted on 5-of-11 third down opportunities and tallied 333 yards of total offense on 56 plays for an average of 5.9 yards per play.
After much controversy regarding who should start at the quarterback position, Bowles decided to go with the well-traveled veteran, and Ryan Fitzpatrick did not disappoint. With his back against the wall, Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 22-of-32 pass attempts for 269 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions to earn a quarterback rating (higher than Tom Brady's) of 115.2.
However, the Jets were inefficient on the ground and the offensive line faltered when it mattered most. The Patriots defense limited Gang Green to just 64 rushing yards on 23 carries for an average of 2.8 yards per rush. Meanwhile, the Jets' hope of a comeback—trailing 22-17 with possession of the ball and 1 minute and 56 seconds remaining in the game—fizzled when the O-line allowed Chris Long to come from Fitzpatrick's blind-side and strip-sack him as the Patriots recovered the football and ran out the clock.
Aside from Fitz, other offensive standouts include wide receiver Quincy Enunwa—who made the most of the throws tossed in his direction by going 5-for-5 for 109 yards and a score—and the always-reliable Brandon Marshall, who got in on the action with six receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Whenever anyone faces Tom Brady and the Patriots' high-flying offense, defense is always a concern. However, in this instance, the Jets' unit held Bill Belichick's club below their season average in points. But in the end, it just wasn't enough.
As a unit, New York's 'D' surrendered 27 first downs total. It's hard to believe Brady & Co. got that many first downs, considering the Jets defense did a great job of limiting them to 4-for-14 on third down situations (1-for-1 on fourth downs).
As far as yards allowed go, the Jets yielded 377 total yards on 72 plays, which equals out to an average of 5.2 yards per play. In the passing game, Gang Green gave up 286 yards on 30-for-50 pass-completions for an average of 5.7 yards per throw. Meanwhile on the ground, the Jets allowed 91 yards on 22 rushes for an average of 4.1 yards per carry.
Defensive standouts include linebackers Darron Lee (11 tackles, one pass defended) and David Harris (11 tackles) and cornerbacks Darryl Roberts (five tackles, one pass defended) and Darrelle Revis (five tackles).
Special Teams: A-
The Jets special teams unit had a solid day for the most part. The only negative note was on a block by Patriots' defensive tackle Alan Branch, as kicker Nick Folk attempted a 54-yard field goal that would have given the Jets the lead just before the two-minute warning in the first half.
After splitting the uprights from 51 yards out, Folk would finish the day going 1-for-2 on field goal attempts and a perfect 2-for-2 on extra-point tries. Jets punter Lachlan Edwards was also solid, averaging 45 yards on four punts, including a 50-yard boot.
After a tumultuous week, many would say that Bowles called a good game, and certainly made the right decision to stick with Fitzpatrick, as the Harvard product did his part to try and get back on track. However, the history books won't be kind to Coach Bowles, as another loss puts a damper on all the positives the ball club accomplished this afternoon versus the mighty Patriots.
"They made one more play than we did," Bowles said after the game. "We've got to find a way to finish. This is the latest loss, but they all hurt the same."
Next up: Jets battle Colts on Monday Night Football
Bringing their three-game home stand to a close, the New York Jets welcome the (5-6) Indianapolis Colts in Week 13. With Andrew Luck sidelined with a concussion, Indy is coming off an embarrassing 28-7 thrashing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving Day. Opening kickoff or the Colts vs. Jets is scheduled for Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
for more features.