Playing in one of the most hostile environments in football, the Jets defense wasn't intimidated by their Sunday opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, and CenturyLink Field this season.
But as DT Mike DeVito said of his unit after the Jets' 28-7 loss was in the books
"It wasn't four quarters. It was three quarters."
"I thought we had a good plan," head coach Rex Ryan said of his team's defensive effort. "I think our guys were playing hard and executing it. We talked about forcing turnovers and getting after the quarterback and that was all there."
"But in the fourth quarter it's not acceptable to tackle the way we did, and I understand we are trying to make plays. But it starts by fundamentals and it is no different than a quarterback forcing the ball. If you have a job to do, we have to get it done. That old saying I talk about, you can't hit a three-run homer with no one on base, well, it's the same thing on defense. You've got to get the guy on the ground."
Seattle WR Golden Tate hauled in a 38-yard TD reception from rookie QB Russell Wilson on just the home teams' third offensive play of the game. Cornerback Kyle Wilson was covering Tate on the play and said he should have prevented Tate from making it into the end zone.
"I was right there," Wilson said. "It was a good ball, though. That was one of only two plays I gave up the whole day, that and a scramble. We just didn't get the job done today, simple as that. I'm hard on myself, and I know I can make those plays. I've just got to learn from it."
The next time Seattle's offense hit the field, the Green & White forced a three-and-out. Then on the home team's next offensive series, facing second-and-22, Jets defensive tackle Mike DeVito strip-sacked Wilson. The fumble was picked up by fellow D-lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, who ran it into the end zone for a 21-yard score, knotting up the score at 7 with just under three minutes remaining in the opening period.
"It was one of those scramble plays," DeVito said, "He broke out. Everybody was putting pressure on him and I just happened to be the guy that was in the right place at the right time. It was great for Mo, as athletic as he is, to pick it up and run it in. But again, none of that matters when you don't win the game."
Just moments later, the Jets defense came up with another fumble. This time the fumble was forced by Wilkerson as he stripped RB Marshawn Lynch on third-and-3 at the Jets' 40 and recovered by LB Calvin Pace. Besides the two fumble plays, Wilkerson also finished the afternoon tied for the team high with seven tackles.
"I think our front seven, Calvin, Bart [Scott], Muhammad and those guys, I think they did a great job," CB Antonio Cromartie said. "Coach [Mike] Pettine and Coach Ryan, those guys make good calls for the defense, to the point where we got good pressure on the quarterback and caused a turnover and got a touchdown off it, too."
By halftime, the defense had limited Lynch, the NFL's second-leading rusher heading into the game, to 39 yards on 14 carries. They had made Wilson uncomfortable in the pocket, sacking him three times for 22 yards. And during the third quarter, they held Seattle scoreless and still trailed by only a touchdown heading into the final period.
Yet in the fourth, Seattle scored 14 points, outexecuted the Jets D and improved to 6-4 overall when the clock finally read 0:00. The defense fought and battled for three quarters. But clearly that's not going to cut it, especially in a place like Seattle.