In this kind of game, a hard-hitting affair slowly slipping in the direction of the home side, lots of time spent on the field trying to hold the opponents in check but no lead to show for it, many Jets fans might have had some stray thoughts: How long can the defense hold up? How long can they keep the Patriots out of the end zone.
The Jets' defense didn't break in the wind and the grit of Foxboro, MA, and Gillette Stadium during the Jets' 10-3 loss to the Patriots on Sunday, the Jets defense simply didn't break.
"We're all hurting. We felt like we played a hell of a game. It's tough to take a loss like that," LB and defensive captain C.J. Mosley said. "But we've got seven games to go, there's still a lot of football left and a lot of ways to get better as a team. We've just got to keep moving forward."
"I thought the defense was outstanding," head coach Robert Saleh said. "I thought our D-line got after it. We had some missed tackles in the first half, but the sequence where we had the penalty, then the sack to make it a hard field goal at the end of the half, I thought that was really, really good by the defense. But then we just couldn't capitalize on their good play."
It's true that the Patriots moved the ball better than the Jets, with QB Mac Jones completing 23 of 27 passes for 246 yards and the ground game pounding for 99 tough yards.
But what about all of the things the Jets defense accomplished?
They sacked Mac Jones six times, matching the unit's six takedowns of Jones at MetLife Stadium three short weeks ago. That brought the Patriots' total yardage down to 297 yards and their net passing yards to 198. The 17 sacks in their last three games in franchise history is tied for second-most in a three-game span with Games 4-6 in the Sack Exchange season of 1981.
"It was really a do-our-job type of mentality," LB Quincy Williams said of Sunday's sack splurge during which, again, six individual players wound up with one sack apiece. "For the defense, it was the coverage and the rush working together. We came out with a lot of sack, we were playing violent and everybody was rushing to the ball."
New England was held to 13 first downs and was forced to punt seven times, the most by a Jets opponent since Buffalo's seven punts in last season's finale. And the Patriots had no touchdowns in two trips inside the Jets' 20, the first time the Pats didn't score at least one red zone touchdown in a game against the Jets since 2013.
If the Green & White defense were going to crack, it surely would've come on third down in the second half. But instead, the D pitched a shutout, holding the Patriots to 0-for-6 on third downs in the final 30 minutes (and that doesn't include their fourth-and-3 stop from their 36). The last time a Jets opponent fared worse than 0-for-6 in third-down conversions in a second half was the Patriots' 0-for-7 in the 2017 season finale at Gillette.
See the best images from the Week 11 matchup between the Jets and Patriots.
Finally, the Jets yielded just three points on the day, with the other seven coming courtesy of Marcus Jones' dramatic last-minute punt-return dash for the win. The last time a Green & White yielded three offensive points or fewer in a game: 2019 in the 34-3 home win over Oakland. The last time on the road: the 26-3 win at Tampa Bay in 2009.
All of these mileposts pointed to an outstanding effort by a unit that went from two 3-and-outs to start the game to a pair of 3-and-outs to finish it. And the resulting loss could be the kind of result that undoes a lot of the Jets' hard work on defense, if they let it.
Mosley said that's not happening.
"We've got to come to work tomorrow, same way as we'd've had to go in there if we'd won the game," he said. "We have to be focused, get our filmwork in, Tuesday get our bodies right, then Wednesday get back to work. That's the way we're going to show each other that we're ready to move forward and get better.
"We can't dwell on this loss," the captain said. "I'm over it already. I'm ready for the next game. We've just to make sure we get the team ready for the next game as well."