Rapid Reaction: Patriots 45, Jets 3


Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: The New York Jets were served enough humble pie to choke an elephant, embarrassing themselves in the game of the year, a 45-3 loss to the rival New England Patriots. The Jets talked big and played puny, an utter no-show that may cost them the AFC East title and could mean a wild-card berth -- assuming they can recover from the psychological damage. This was the most lopsided loss of the Rex Ryan era, and the Jets' worst defeat since a 45-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins in 1986.

Outcoached: Ryan set a bad tone on the Jets' first possession, making two horrible decisions. On a fourth-and-1 from his 46, he challenged a questionable spot. That was no time to use a replay challenge. He lost (he's 3-for-9 in challenges) and wound up going for it anyway. On the same drive, Ryan opted to try a 53-yard field goal into swirling wind. Nick Folk missed badly, giving Tom Brady a short field. Ryan coached as if he was trying to win the game on the first series instead of showing patience and managing the game properly. Was he trying to send a message to Bill Belichick? Sure looked like it.

Careless QB: Mark Sanchez played small on the big stage, ruining any chance of a Jets comeback with three reckless interceptions in the second half. He has regressed the past two weeks, and that should be cause for concern as the Jets head into the final quarter of the season. Sanchez resembled the confused rookie who threw four interceptions last season in Foxborough.

The Patriots converted all three Sanchez interceptions into touchdowns Monday, turning the game into a blowout. The killer came on the first drive of the third quarter. The Jets took the kickoff and marched to the Patriots' 9, but on a second-down play-action, Sanchez tried to hit Braylon Edwards on a skinny post. But he threw quickly, without looking, and hit LB Brandon Spikes in the numbers. You can't be a championship team when your quarterback makes mistakes like that in the red zone.

Bad secondary: The Jets missed S Jim Leonhard (broken leg), but his absence can't be blamed for missed tackles. CB Antonio Cromartie, living down to his reputation as a poor tackler, missed two big ones. He also was victimized on 25- and 4-yard touchdown passes to Deion Branch and Brandon Tate, respectively.

S Eric Smith, starting for Leonhard, made a huge mistake in the first quarter -- a 37-yard pass-interference penalty in the end zone. The Patriots, of course, capitalized, scoring their first touchdown to make it 10-0. In the third quarter, nickelback Drew Coleman, in single coverage on Wes Welker, gave too much cushion and was wasted for an 18-yard touchdown.

Child's Play: Belichick and Brady made the Jets look foolish, turning a fourth-and-3 gamble into a 25-yard touchdown. The Jets used an all-out blitz, showing "zero" coverage -- no deep safety. That was a terrible risk by Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Brady read it easily, with Branch running a quick slant on Cromartie. Ex-Jet RB Danny Woodhead was in motion and "rubbed" Cromartie, flawless execution by the team that knows how to make timely big plays.

Brady (21-for-29, 326 yards and four TDs) was magnificent, doing a fantastic job of identifying favorable matchups. He stayed away from CB Darrelle Revis and went after everybody else in the secondary, using formations and motion to put the Jets in vulnerable positions. When the Jets did get into position, they missed tackles.

Woodhead's revenge: It was a microcosm play: Woodhead caught a shovel pass in the third quarter and turned it into a 50-yard gain, outrunning the entire Jets defense to set up another touchdown. It was almost a laughable scene, the tiny Woodhead being chased by 11 former teammates. Did that typify the Jets' night, or what?

Up-tempo: Trying to solve their first-quarter funk, the Jets actually came out in a no-huddle and ran it out of shotgun for most of the first series -- 12 plays. It was a good change of pace by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, but it didn't work. The Jets have gone eight straight games without a first-quarter touchdown.

The Shanks: The Jets figured to have an advantage on special teams, but that didn't work out, either. P Steve Weatherford was terrible, putting the defense in holes with a shank and another lousy punt.

What's Ahead: The Jets have to regroup on a short week and prepare for the Miami Dolphins (6-6) at home. This won't be a gimme for the Jets. Like the Jets, the Dolphins are struggling on offense.