The Jets lost 45–3 last night. 45–3. We could look at that score a million times and it would never look less crazy. The big-and-swingin’ Jets, the ’85 Bears Jets, the Super Bowl favorites from “Hard Knocks,” the Rex Ryan Bravado Squad, lost 45–3. To their fiercest rival! On national television! Oh, boy, are we gonna hear about this game for a long time.
The game was a disaster from the get-go. The Patriots jumped out to a 17–0 first-quarter lead — “Everything just happened so fast. Next thing you know: bam! 17–0. Wow. That was quick,” left tackle Damien Woody said, probably while hiding under something — and it just kept getting worse.
Mark Sanchez had a terrible game (17-for-33 for 164 yards, zero TDs, three INTs), and he was the least of the Jets’ concerns. All season, we’ve kept waiting for the Jets’ defense to be THE JETS DEFENSE, the one we were promised before the season, the one that didn’t need Darrelle Revis but would be an all-time dominant defense once it had him. And they gave up 45 points last night and seemed to have no one who could catch up to Danny Woodhead, who, as you might have been reminded a thousand times last night, was a Jet at the beginning of the season. The Jets didn’t have safety Jim Leonhard, but they could have cloned Leonhard three times and played all four Jim Leonhards with the ten other defenders and still gotten sliced up last night. It was really something to see, and we hope you didn’t: We hope you turned that off by the midpoint of the third quarter.
It was not a pleasant night for Rex Ryan, but it’s worth noting that even though everyone’s jumping on Ryan today for being a talker and his team not being able to back it up, Ryan’s talking and joy and cockiness is the main reason the Jets have been so likable in the first place. The trade-off of all that talk is nights like last night, when it blows up in your face, but that doesn’t mean Ryan shouldn’t have talked at all. He was just outcoached and outprepared last night by Bill Belichick, who surely would have relished putting the loud upstart in his place if Bill Belichick were capable of joy.
It was a wretched, foundation-shaking night. The Jets are 9–3, still the second-best record in football, but no one’s going to believe them again, for a while. This is not a total disaster; the Jets still pretty much only have to beat Miami next week and Buffalo in Week 17 to clinch the sixth playoff spot in the AFC. That shouldn’t be too difficult. But that sixth playoff spot? That’s one spot lower than the Jets had last year. That’s, technically, a regression. Sure seems like a lot of fuss for a team to have a worse season than last year, doesn’t it?
But after last night, talking about the playoffs at all seems like too much fuss.