It had all the makings of a statement game, but instead it was a game where the Jets stuttered and stumbled.
Sunday night’s 34-17 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium was the kind of loss that can sink a season. The Ravens ran out to a 27-7 lead midway through the second quarter and scored three defensive touchdowns. On the flipside, the Jets underperformed. Mark Sanchez, the former first-round pick, had a 38 quarterback rating and the starting running back tandem of Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson combined for just 20 yards on 13 carries. Making matters worse, the Jets must now regroup for next weekend’s clash in Foxboro, Mass. against what head coach Rex Ryan called “the best offense in football.”
The season has now reached a pivotal moment and it is only Week 5.
“We just didn’t play well,” Eric Smith told Metro. “Nothing more to it than that.”
And as anyone who watched the Patriots game last year on Monday Night Football can remember, this New England team can make games ugly fast. The Jets stand at a 2-2 and on the verge of watching their season of expectations turn to mediocrity if they can’t turn things around. Last weekend in Oakland, they lost an ugly game to the Raiders and they talked all week about the wakeup call they received in the game.
Now, it is beginning to look like the makings of a recurring nightmare.
“We just have to put together the pieces, we have no choice really, we just need to put it all together,” linebacker Calvin Pace said.
The Jets never really seemed to have an answer against one of the AFC’s best teams over the past decade. They fell behind 7-0 after a turnover on the opening play of their first drive and never held a lead in the game. The offense didn’t register their second first down until well into the second quarter and the team’s marquee players, such as Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes and Tomlinson, were largely silent throughout the game.
Factor in nine penalties for 69 yards and this doesn’t have the look and feel of a team that is coming off AFC Championship Game appearances.
“I don’t think we’re playing the way we can, I think we’re a scary team when we go out there and we’re firing on all cylinders,” defensive end Mike DeVito said. “We’re just not putting it all together. We need to go back to the drawing board, learn from our mistakes and correct them for next week.”
But for all the brazen talk, coming from the Jets themselves, of this being a Super Bowl team, the team now looks very average. After posting a 4-2 mark in the playoffs over the past two seasons, the Jets can’t simply win in the postseason, they must now continue to excel. Right now, they don’t look like a very special team.
“It’s four games into the season; we’ve been in worse situations. We got to flush it. Take the positives, take the negatives and then focus on New England because they’re not feeling sorry for us,” Pace said. “We all need to look in the mirror. Everyone on this team needs to be real, look at themselves and ask if they’re doing enough. I think Baltimore did that today.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.