- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New York Jets lost their third straight game, falling to the New England Patriots 30-21 at Gillette Stadium.
What this means: Rex Ryan's crisis-management skills will be tested. The Jets (2-3) dropped below .500 for the first time since starting 0-1 last season, and there are signs of dissension in the locker room. Next week is a must-win, or else their Super Bowl hopes (and predictions) will be ruined.
Schotty plan: As promised, the Jets got back to Ground & Pound, with Shonn Greene rushing for a season-high 83 yards. But to prove a point, they may have cost themselves a chance to attack the Patriots' woeful pass defense. QB Mark Sanchez passed for only 166 yards, rarely looking for his wide receivers on the outside. He found Santonio Holmes for a 21-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. The offense was inconsistent, with seven three-and-out possessions against the NFL's 32nd-ranked defense. Inexcusable.
Turmoil on offense: The Jets issued a pregame statement, denying a New York Daily News story saying that receivers Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason met individually with Ryan in recent weeks to question coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. True or not, there are serious internal issues on offense. Holmes and Mason have complained publicly in recent weeks, and Mason’s comments earned him a seat on the bench, a source said.
Mason was active, but he was replaced by rookie Jeremy Kerley in three-receiver packages. Mason, who ended up playing a handful of snaps, is in Ryan's doghouse, and it wouldn't be a shock if they cut him this week to send a message. They'd have to eat Mason’s 2011 contract, a total of $1.4 million.
Welcome to Revis Island: The big question going into the game was, will Darrelle Revis cover Wes Welker? The answer: Yes. Revis covered him on most of the snaps. Welker had only one catch for 3 yards against Revis, who shut down the Patriots' No. 1 weapon.
On the first play of the third quarter, the Jets got burned by Welker on a 73-yard pass, but that was on safety Eric Smith. He bit on a play fake and let Welker run by him on a seam route. Revis chased him down, but the Patriots -- after winning a critical replay challenge on what appeared to be a fumble by Deion Branch -- went in for the touchdown to make it 17-7.
That's what makes Tom Brady so great; he recognized the Jets' zone coverage and knew immediately he'd have Welker on Smith.
Defense wilts: All things considered, the Jets played good defense, sacking Brady four times and creating some confusion. But they gave Brady too many opportunities -- that goes back to the offensive struggles -- and they eventually succumbed in the third quarter. The Jets wound up allowing their second 100-yard rusher in three games, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 136 yards.
Joe, again: One week after his 107-yard kickoff return, Joe McKnight -- emerging as one of the team's MVPs -- ripped off an 88-yard return to set up the Jets' second touchdown. It’s scary to think that if Antonio Cromartie hadn't hurt his ribs two weeks ago, McKnight might not have received a chance to shine.
What's next: After three straight road games, the Jets return home for a Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins (0-4), who are coming off their bye. They usually cause problems for the Jets, who have dropped four of their past five to the Dolphins.