HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Jets coach Herman Edwards hopes his players learned something during their first loss of the season.
How to play without mistakes is up there on the list. The Jets fell to New England 13-7 on Sunday, succumbing in part to what the Patriots do best -- forcing teams to make errors.
Though the Jets played with the Super Bowl champions throughout the game, they still need to learn how to make the big plays that win the big games.
"We can take something out of it," Edwards said Monday. "Hopefully we'll take the fact that when you get in these situations you have to make plays and you don't want to give them an opportunity to make plays on you."
The Jets had cashed in their chances in five victories, four coming against losing teams. Many criticized their 5-0 start because they played weaker clubs, but the Jets showed they can play with the best team in NFL.
Defensively, the Jets shut out the Patriots in the second half and allowed just one touchdown drive, which came just before halftime. But too many mistakes proved costly.
Jerald Sowell lost a fumble at the Patriots' 15 on the first drive, and two penalties led to 10 points. The worst was on Dewayne Robertson, who was whistled for roughing the passer with the Patriots driving at the Jets 13. New England converted the mistake into a touchdown two plays later when Tom Brady threw a 7-yard scoring pass to David Patten.
Despite those errors, the Jets were still in the game at the very end. They converted a fourth-and-inches from their own 23 with 6:55 to go, a risky call since there was so much time left in the game.
"For me, it was more of a statement that I was going to make to the football team," Edwards said. "I could punt it and hope the defense holds them. Or you can try to get a spark going with your offense. If you go down there and score the game will probably be over."
The Jets nearly did that. They drove to the New England 27 before things unraveled. On second down, Chad Pennington threw a pass for Justin McCareins in the end zone that McCareins got his fingers on but dropped. On third down, Pennington audibled to a
draw play for Curtis Martin but said Monday he should have called timeout instead because the play clock was winding down and he had to hurry the call.
"We had a good drive going," Pennington said on his weekly radio show. "We hit a wall and didn't make it happen like we should have. It wasn't the play calling or anything like that -- as the quarterback I just didn't get it done."
Edwards refused to criticize Pennington for his play down the stretch.
"Chad played all right," Edwards said. "Everyone's going to say he should have completed the drive at the end of the game, but he had some throws. He was under duress at times. There were catches that should have been made, too. ... He really thought the bracket was opening up on Wayne and he just made a throw. They made
New England always seems to do that, which is why the Patriots have won 21 straight games.
"It is always tough, because we know not to beat ourselves," defensive tackle Jason Ferguson said after the game. "This is a team that you can't make mistakes on and we knew that coming in."
Edwards wants his team to get stronger because of the adversity and that starts this week with a Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins.
He wants his players to remember they are one of four 5-1 teams in the league.
"I can sit here and say woe is us, but there's a reason why they've won 21 straight," Edwards said. "We were right there. At the end we had the ball, we had a chance. We lost the game. OK, now what? We've got 10 left. We have to continue to grow on that."