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6 Signs Jets Would Not Be Able to Come Back

Posted Oct 5, 2014

Not Even QB Switch from Geno Smith to Michael Vick Can Avert 31-0 Loss at San Diego

The Jets had the pregame confidence of head coach Rex Ryan, their recent history in games in San Diego, and the Chargers' injury situation all working in their favor.

None of that came into play as Philip Rivers and the Thunderbolts took it to the Green & White for a 31-0 victory at steamy Qualcomm Stadium this afternoon. The loss dropped the Jets to 1-4 on the season with the Broncos at home and the Patriots on the road off a short week looming on the horizon.

It didn't matter that Michael Vick replaced Geno Smith at the start of the second half for his first extended action since Game 8 last year with Philadelphia (he completed one of his first 10 passes). Or that the front seven, led by Calvin Pace and Sheldon Richardson, sacked Rivers three times (the pressure barely knocked him off his spot).

"I was surprised how our entire team struggled," said  Ryan, now experiencing the first four-game losing streak of his head-coaching career. "I thought we were prepared, I thought we were going to come out here and put forth a great effort. It never happened.

"It was a complete beatdown, but I ain't quitting," the coach added. "Shoot, we'll find out what we're made of. I just have to go back and do a better job of what I'm asking my players to do. Somewhere it's not good enough right now. It's clearly not good enough."

Here are six signs that we would not be able to mount a fantastic finish in San Diego today:

1. Geno's Rough Outing

It didn't help Geno Smith and the offense to know that even though Eric Decker made the 3,000-mile road trip with the team, he was deactivated for the game due to his aching hamstring. Then the "O" scuffled through the first half, gaining just 60 yards. With the running game producing just 33 first-half yards, the Chargers got to tee off on Smith, who wasn't sacked but was harassed into 4-for-12 passing for 27 yards.

"If not then, then when?" Ryan said when asked about the timing of the changeup. "We tried to give a spark. We sat a guy down who it wasn't his day, just like a starting pitcher. Sometimes it's not his day, get him out. We do have a good player in Mike Vick. But if we had Joe Namath today, it wouldn't have made any difference."

"I didn't need an explanation and I didn't ask for one," Smith said of the halftime hook. "Obviously I didn't lilke it and I never want to be pulled from the game, but I just had to adjust my mindset and try to support the guys. It's part of the job and some of these days are going to happen and you just have to move on and get better."

2. Flowing Rivers

Rivers came into the game with the NFL's top passer rating and lots of early touting as one of this year's strong MVP candidates. Despite some decent pressure from our front seven, he remained on a fast track. On the Chargers' opening drive, he went 5-for-5 for 86 yards and the first of two TD tosses to TE Antonio Gates.

By late in the fourth quarter, Rivers had settled into a very nice 20-for-28, 288-yard, three-TD, one-INT game. That calculated to a 125.3 passer rating for the game, and Rivers increased his career rating in five games vs. the Jets to 93.9.

3. Chargers Go to Ground

The Jets came into this game with the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL while the Chargers came in with the 31st offense in rushing yards/game and 32nd in yards/carry. Despite that imbalance, San Diego coach Mike McCoy predicted his offense would run the ball and run it well.

How prescient. Even with starting RB Ryan Mathews sidelined and backup Donald Brown leaving in the second quarter, the Chargers moved the ball on the ground in augmenting Rivers' usual dynamic passing game.

Rookie Branden Oliver, the third back, came in and found the creases in our front for 43 first-half yards on 10 carries. The most damaging: Oliver's 15-yard barge up the middle with 42 seconds left in the half for the TD that put the 'Bolts in control, 21-0. When Oliver ripped off a 52-yarder early in the third quarter, the centerpiece of the home team's 90-yard march to its fourth touchdown, the deal was sealed.

4. Oh, those turnovers

There was a brief shining moment when it seemed we might still rise up as road warriors. Rivers, trying to find second-year WR Keenan Allen in the end zone. Instead, Rivers found CB Phillip Adams, who came down with the pick — the Jets' first of the season, ending their longest ever pick-less drought from the start of a season.

No time to celebrate. On the offense's next play, Chris Johnson was fighting for a yard when he had a loosely held ball poked out of his grasp just before his knee touched down. Jahleel Addae recovered for the Chargers at the Jets 20 and the hosts were set up for their second TD drive.

5. Crushing Yardage Margin

With all the adverse developments, the Chargers had opened a yardage differential of 306 yards to 60 at halftime. The minus-246 yardage differential was the largest deficit we have faced at the half in at least 30 seasons. The next-largest since 1985 was a minus-238 deficit, 272 to 34, at New England in 2009.

6. The Scoreboard Said It All

When Oliver's TD was added to Gates' two TDs (giving him six for his career against the Green & White), the 21-0 lead with 42 seconds to play in the half set up a nearly insurmountable barrier. The only 21-point second-quarter deficit we ever overcame was in 1978 at Denver, when we fell behind, 28-7, then came back for a 31-28 win. We had never overcome a halftime lead larger than 17 points (the 2001 game vs. Miami, down 17-0, before winning 21-17). And we were on our way to our first shutout since 34-0 against San Francisco in Game 4 of the 2012 season.

There is always hope in games like this, but only for so long. As the second half wore on, it was apparent there would be no fantastic finish this day, only a long plane flight home, and a week to regroup for the Broncos.

"If we don't stick together, we'll fall apart," LB Quinton Coples said in the hushed visitors' locker room. "We've got to stick together and make it happen."




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