The Jets made a valiant fourth quarter push, but the Broncos were too much as they held on for a 31-17 win at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets are now 1-5, and extended their longest stretch of games under Rex Ryan without a win to five. Geno Smith threw touchdown passes in the first and fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough on a day when the offense was spotty at best.
A field goal on the game’s opening drive and a 1-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas staked the Broncos to a 10-7 lead with 5:50 left in the second quarter. Then Manning hit Julius Thomas straight down the gut for a 22-yard touchdown pass to put Denver up 17-7 just before halftime.
Manning finished the game with another solid effort, passing for a season-low 237 yards. He did throw for three touchdowns, putting him just two away from the NFL’s all-time record for passing touchdowns in a career.
We look at three things that went wrong …
1. Losing Milliner
The Jets may have lost cornerback Dee Milliner for the season on the sixth play of the game with a non-contact injury suffered on the game’s first field goal. It looked innocuous, with Milliner coming off the edge and going down without being touched. Milliner limped off the field and went straight into the locker room without putting any weight on his left leg. The Jets announced midway through the first quarter that it was an ankle injury, but it appeared an Achilles injury could cost the Jets’ best cornerback his season.
2. Mr. Inconsistent
Smith wasn’t benched at halftime like last week in San Diego, but he was still not very good. The Jets defense played well enough in the first half to keep things close, but Smith struggled after he started the game 6-of-8 for 52 yards with a touchdown. From late in the first quarter through the third quarter, the offense punted the ball five straight times. Smith put together a nice scoring drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Eric Decker with 7:56 left in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late.
3. A total rush job
One week after the Jets allowed rookie Branden Oliver to run for 114 yards, the defense again couldn’t stop an unheralded running back. Ronnie Hillman had a good day, going for 101 yards on 22 carries, much of the yardage coming right down the middle of the Jets defense. It was the highest rushing total of Hillman’s career. He entered this game with 66 yards rushing total.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.