The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers fumbled on the first play from scrimmage to give the Jets a 7-0 lead just 1:49 into the game as Geno Smith’s 2-yard touchdown run put the visitors up early. The Jets sacked Rodgers twice on the next drive and Smith tossed a 29-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker to give them a shocking 14-0 lead.
The Jets allowed a field goal, but a methodical, 17-play drive put them up 21-3 in the second quarter.
But then the Packers would go on a roll as they scored 28 of the game’s next 31 points.
Metro breaks down what went wrong as the Jets lost for the first time since 2002 after holding an 18-point lead:
1. Aaron’s neighborhood
Not only does Rodgers make all the throws, he’s also a highly mobile quarterback who is most dangerous when he escapes the pocket. The Jets got pressure on him early in the game, but he transitioned to quicker passes and got back on track. Rodgers rebounded from his shaky start to finish 25-of-42 for 346 yards and three touchdowns.
2. Losing stars
After the Jets gave up the Packers go-ahead touchdown midway through the third quarter, Green Bay went for the two-point conversion. It didn’t matter as much in the grand scheme of things the Packers converted because Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was ejected for a fight after the play.
Wilkerson is the team’s most dynamic player and in a game where the pass rush had to be dominant, the loss of Wilkerson hurt. Eric Decker was also sidelined midway through the third quarter on with a hamstring injury, so the Jets were without their biggest playmakers to close out the game. The Jets could have used a healthy Decker on the field late as they looked for a touchdown.
3. No takebacks
The most costly mistake of the game ended up being one that shouldn’t have happened on multiple fronts. With the score 31-24 and five minutes to play, Smith tossed a touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley on fourth-and-4. Except, he didn’t. The refs had blown the play dead without the players hearing it due to a Jets timeout. Rex Ryan protested, saying he hadn’t called it. Turns out, Marty Mornhinweg had, even though coordinators can’t by the rules. The official, who had his back to the sideline, likely didn’t know who called it.
“I didn’t call it, but clearly somebody called it,” Ryan said. “I don’t know if Marty called it, Geno called it, I just know that they had blown it dead as a timeout.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.