Life in the NFL can be rather cruel, regardless if the player is on the practice squad, a journeyman, or a future Hall of Famer. And during this season, no one knows that better than the Jets.
Whether it’s cornerback Darrelle Revis getting beat on two touchdowns – both by relatively unknown wideout Malcolm Mitchell – or quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick going from last season’s darling to this year’s goat, the Jets have run the gamut this season.
Sunday’s 22-17 defeat to the New England Patriots wasn’t any different.
Head coach Todd Bowles is definitely not playing for moral victories in what has turned out to be a very disappointing season, but for what it’s worth, his maligned squad did play a very competitive game. But like most games this season, Gang Green wasn’t up to completely finish the task. Tom Brady and co. did just enough to eke out the last-second win, but it didn’t come without a fight. New England (9-2), in turn, managed to keep some breathing room in what’s turned into a competitive AFC East as Brady hit Mitchell for an eight-yard touchdown with 1:56 remaining.
The future Hall of Famer, who didn’t even have the services of another future Hall of Famer in tight end Rob Gronkowski (no catches and didn’t play in the second half), has once again avoided a personal two-game losing streak to the Jets (3-8). Gang Green, meanwhile, must go back to the drawing board and figure out how to end this three-game slide.
Metro takes a look back at another competitive, yet unfulfilling defeat to the hated Patriots, who have now won six-straight on the road.
What We Saw:
1. Brady and co. held in check – The Jets have historically played Brady tough, so it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal that Gang Green had success against him. But judging by the way the secondary had been torched this season, New York’s accomplishments today was somewhat startling. Brady and co. were held to an astonishing 35 yards of total offense in the first quarter to set the tone. There wasn’t much statistical success after that – barring the final drive -- as the Jets mostly forced a field-goal fest to always allow the struggling offense to stay within striking distance. Ultimately, the Jets faltered, but the way they showed up and fought the Patriots tooth-and-nail was a good sight for the MetLife crowd.
2. Fitz Roller Coaster continued – Fitzpatrick (22-of-32, 269 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions) rewarded Bowles for his faith to reinsert him into the starting lineup, and in fact, he played Brady (30-of-50 for 286 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions) to a statistical standstill. But when it was time to be a hero and ride off into the evening a victor, Fitzpatrick couldn’t match Brady’s excellence. The Jets got the ball back following Brady’s go-ahead touchdown toss with 1:56 remaining, down five points and needing a touchdown for the walk-off win. But it was Fitzpatrick who fumbled, via a strip-sack by defensive end Chris Long, on New York’s second play of the drive to seal their fate. Fitzpatrick wasn’t terrible and was within striking distance for the improbable win, but in the end, he showed why he’s the career journeyman and why Brady is headed to Canton.
3. Brandon Marshall’s sidekick – When Eric Decker went down with a season-ending injury early on the campaign, the Jets were fearful that opposing team’s attention would forever be shined on Marshall. And while the veteran wideout has had his moments – including today’s six-catch, 67-yard, one-touchdown performance – no one in green and white has consistently stepped up to be his sidekick. Quincy Enunwa has the makings of being that suitable fill-in, as he seared New England for five catches, 109 yards, and a touchdown. His touchdown was a tremendous acrobatic reception in the back-corner of the end zone that was initially ruled inc