Jets head coach Todd Bowles came out of the hospital after his Friday battle with what he said were kidney stones and gallstones to rejoin his players at their team hotel and coach them from the rainy sideline.
But neither his return nor anything else could provide a spark as the Green & White were defeated by Tom Brady and the Patriots, 41-3, on Christmas Eve.
"It's hard to compete when you make too many mental mistakes and turn the ball over," Bowles said somberly after the game in the Gillette Stadium visitors' interview room. "There is no explanation for playing bad, whether it's mental mistakes, whether it's turnovers, whether it's a lack of making plays. We were not doing anything right."
The Jets' record fell to 4-11 with only their New Year's Day home game against the Bills to go. The Patriots rose to 13-2. Along the way, they lost QB Bryce Petty to a shoulder injury, with Ryan Fitzpatrick finishing the game, and WR Brandon Marshall, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins and D-linemen Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams also came off at various times. Richardson and Williams returned, Marshall and Seferian-Jenkins did not.
"Nobody expected us to be 4-11," LB David Harris said. "It's been tough. We wish we could take things back in the past, but you can't do it. We are what our record says we are."
Here are 11 observations as the game unfolded in Foxboro, MA:
1. Holding the RZ LineNew England drove to the Jets 11 on its opening series, but some decent red zone run defense led by Sheldon Richardson and then good coverage to prevent Brady from finding a receiver on third down forced the Patriots to settle for a short Stephen Gostkowski field goal and a 3-0 lead. It was the fifth straight game the Jets held the Pats without a TD on their opening drive. It wasn't much but it was something.
2. Petty StrugglesThe Jets' young QB, meanwhile, got off to a rough, soggy start in his first two drives, getting sacked twice and then trying to find Robby Anderson down the right side but instead seeing the ball deflected in the air to CB Malcolm Butler. That opened the Jets' league-low TO margin to minus-20 and started the home side on its way to its first TD drive of the day, which concluded on Brady's patented high 5-yard toss to TE Martellus Bennett over Rontez Miles' coverage, with Bennett getting his feet down for the score and a 10-0 lead with 3:02 left in the opening frame.
3. Early RB JuiceWith Matt Forte (shoulder/knee) sitting out, the ball was in Bilal Powell's court again. On the visitors' third drive, he began to crank it up once more with his first first down of the day after racking up 21 in the previous two games combined. But on the next drive Khiry Robinson got his first carry of the season — and coughed up the second turnover of the game on an Elandon Roberts hit and the Pats were back in business at the Jets 28. Robinson showed some fire and burst later but it wasn't enough to stem the tide this day.
4. Juston the Nick of TimeA 17-0 second-quarter lead? Rookie CB Juston Burris had other ideas. He was involved in the coverage on a second-down Brady pass for Chris Hogan at the goal line, then was all over Julian Edelman on a third-down toss in the end zone. That was Burris' fourth pass breakup in the last three games and held the damage to another Gostkowski field goal for a 13-0 lead instead.
Top Photos from the Divisional Matchup in Gillette Stadium
5. Fitz Drive, Folk FadeRyan Fitzpatrick came on for Petty, who injured his shoulder on the Robinson fumble return, and led an nice run-based drive 63-yard drive into the red zone. But Seferian-Jenkins couldn't bring in Fitz's third-down sling at the goal line under tight coverage, then Nick Folk's 34-yard field goal try drifted just wide right. It was Folk's fourth unsuccessful kick in 27 tries this season but his first that wasn't blocked. But they all count for no points.
6. Another GiftJets Turnover No. 3 came when Fitzpatrick tried to hit Brandon Marshall down the left sideline on the first play after New England's second 3-and-out. Instead he found CB Eric Rowe for the interception at the NE-46. In short order Brady found TE Matt Lengel for the first catch of the rookie's career, an 18-yard strike with Burris closing just a little too late at the goal line. And the deficit grew to 20-0.
7. Two-Minute TroublesThe Jets had been outscored, 40-17, in the last two minutes of first halves this season. Today they got past the two-minute warning but punted. The Pats had 1:30 left, plenty of time to get a 47-yard pass interference penalty on rookie S Doug Middleton, one of the longest penalties called against the Jets in their history, then a 25-yard Brady strike to RB James White running past David Harris with 25 seconds left. Halftime damage: 27-0. The last time the Jets trailed by more without scoring a point: 28-0 at Jacksonville in 2006.
8. Going to GroundThe Patriots ground away at the Jets defense in the third quarter, moving 13 plays and 63 yards in 7:40 to open it to 34-0 on LeGarrette Blount's 16th rushing TD. The shame is that the Jets' best pass rush in weeks was wasted. Early in the series, Muhammad Wilkerson got his first sack in seven games and the Jets' second strip sack of the season, but Brady recovered the fumble. Late, David Harris had a third-down sack ... but he lost it when Darrelle Revis was called for holding WR Chris Hogan in the end zone on the play.
9. When It Rains, It PoursThis was the way this game was going. The Jets' Nick Marshall returned the next kickoff to the 27 but the Patriots were called offside on the kick. On Gostkowski's rekick, Marshall muffed the kick and was dropped at the 14, a field position loss of 13 yards. On the ensuing drive, Quincy Enunwa went 12 yards on the first carry of his career to convert and 3rd-and-1. But on the next play, Fitzpatrick's pass went off of Enunwa's hands to Butler for his second pick and third takeaway of the game.
10. Blount ForceAnother end zone hold, this one called against Burris on Hogan, wiped out another third-down stop and set up Blount's second 1-yard TD run in a six-minute span as the Pats opened a 41-0 lead.
11. Ending the Shutout BidThe Jets had their best drive of the day in terms of plays (13), yards (64), possession time (6:08) and points as Bowles, rather than trying to convert a fourth-and-goal at the NE-11, called for Folk to put an end to the shutout. He did with a 29-yard try to cut the score to 41-3. Successes on the possession: Devin Smith made his first catch of the season, a 20-yarder, and Charone Peake got his first grab of the game, a 27-yarder to set up the first-and-goal.