Commentary

Raiders beat Jets at their own game

Oakland's offense dominated the usual physical, punishing Gang Green defense

Updated: October 31, 2012, 6:35 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Rex Ryan's GQ quarterback was bashed in the face and emerged from Sunday's 34-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders with a bruise under his right eye, a possible broken nose.

But Mark Sanchez's wound was nothing compared to the real black eye -- the welt on the reputation of the New York Jets' defense.

The Jets, who like to believe they have the best, most intimidating defense in the NFL, were beat at their own game. They were punished, physically. They were unmasked by the Raiders, who rushed for 234 yards -- one of the worst days in the Ryan family history.

"I've never had that happen, I don't think, in my life," Ryan said.

In fact, the last time one of his defenses surrendered that many rushing yards was 1995. That was way, way back in his Arizona Cardinal days, when he served as the defensive line and linebackers coach under his father, Buddy Ryan.

In many ways, this was worse because the Jets (2-1) are supposed to be a good defensive team, not a rebuilding team like that team in 'Zona. But after three games, this Jets' defense is an imposter, nothing close to the 2009 and 2010 versions.

The Jets have lost their defensive identity, perhaps only temporarily, but it has disappeared, no question. Let's look at their season: They've sandwiched two bad performances around a Luke McCown beat down. They dominated a journeyman quarterback, but it was a different story against the teams that punched back, the Dallas Cowboys and Raiders.

"This thing stings, no question," Ryan said. "To have 439 yards in offense and lose the game, that's unbelievable."

Nose tackle Sione Pouha called it "embarrassing." And he wasn't done.

"It was humiliating for us to have something like that happen," he said. "It'll sink deep."

The Jets were beat every which way. Let's start with preparation. The Raiders came out in a no-huddle and the Jets acted as though they'd never seen a no-huddle before. Jason Campbell led them on a 76-yard touchdown drive, and it took only 2:24. Darren McFadden scored on a 2-yard run, the first of many daggers he would throw at the Jets.

"That's unacceptable for our defense," said cornerback Darrelle Revis, alluding to the no-show on the game's opening drive. "That had us on our heels."

Ryan took the blame, saying "it starts with me" and admitting that Raiders coach Hue Jackson outfoxed him in terms of preparation. That was obvious; even the leather-clad metalheads in the Black Hole knew that.

Another alarming aspect was how the Jets were simply out-toughed by the Raiders. Jackson's coaching mantra is "building a bully," and his team heeded the message, pushing the Jets around the field. McFadden ran for 171 yards, the best individual rushing performance against the Jets in 41 games under Ryan.

After the game, several Raiders players were crowing about how they manhandled the Jets. McFadden said their goal is "to go out there and bully them, and we were able to do that today."

The Raiders exploited a weakness, picking up huge chunks of yardage on the perimeter. That's the knock on the Jets; you can beat them on the edge because the linebackers aren't the fleetest bunch of guys around.

[+] EnlargeDarren McFadden
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesThe Jets had no answer for Darren McFadden as the back rushed for 171 yards.

McFadden went around left end for 70 yards, exploiting terrible containment by the defense. Bart Scott couldn't get off his block, Kyle Wilson took a bad angle and Jim Leonhard missed a downfield tackle. Just like that, McFadden was in the end zone, and the Raiders had closed to within 17-14.

"You've got to set the edges against this guy," Ryan said. "We never did that. We know he's got great speed. That's why we had to get the ball turned inside."

Scott, noting that's a copycat league, expects other opponents to test the edges of the Jets' defense.

Next up is the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice, another back that can make them look bad.

When they weren't getting kicked around, they were getting fooled. There was McFadden's 27-yard run in the third quarter, the turning point. The Raiders called a throwback pass, with McFadden taking the handoff and looking for Campbell. The Jets actually covered the pass, but they forgot about McFadden.

On the next play, rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore scored on a 27-yard reverse, with center Samson Satele delivering the key block on Leonhard. The 5-foot-8, 188-pound safety nearly landed in the Black Hole, saying later, "I haven't been hit like that in a long, long time."

Jamaal Westerman missed a tackle in the backfield, Scott was juked and Moore was gone, giving the Raiders a 24-17 lead. Which became a 31-17 advantage moments later when Antonio Cromartie muffed, kicked and fumbled the ensuing kickoff.

It was that kind of day for Cromartie, who also committed four defensive penalties for 46 yards. The Raiders wanted to sign Cromartie as a free agent to replace Nnamdi Asomugha. And Sunday's performance, they're probably glad they didn't.

Cromartie suffered a rib injury, according to the team, and left the stadium in severe pain. He was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation and flew home with the team.

It probably was one of the longest flights of his life. Ditto for Ryan and every member of the Jets' ballyhooed defense, which came up small and needs a gut check less than a month into the season.

"We didn't play to our identity," Revis said. "It's a shocker for a lot of us."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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