Following a season-high 34 points against Buffalo last Thursday, the Jets offense struggled to find a rhythm in Sunday's 15-10 loss to the Buccaneers.
"Myself and the other veterans have to pull these [young] guys along, help us find consistency and be better," quarterback Josh McCown said. "Because every unit, at some point this year, has played and shown that they can play with the best in the league. But we have to do that for four quarters week in and week out and we didn't do that today. We have to take these next two weeks to get healthy, look in the mirror and figure out ways to do that and be better, so we can make a run down the stretch."
While McCown credited the Bucs' defense for their scheme and execution, penalties set the offense back early and often as the unit accounted for five of the team's eight penalties. The Green & White struggled to move the chains and finished 3-15 on third down (20%), 11 of which were of at least 10 yards.
"We were behind the sticks a lot," said McCown, who completed 23 of his 39 passes for 262 yards, one touchdown and one interception. "Whether it was self-inflicted penalties or just not executing well on first and second down. You play a game with third-and-seven plus a lot and it's going to go that way. It's hard and that's the league. You have to give yourself better chances."
Without running back Matt Forte (knee), the Jets tried to establish a run game with Bilal Powell and Eli McGuire, who combined for 52 yards on 18 carries for an average of 2.9 yards a clip.
"Getting penalties early in the game like that gets us away from our game plan," said McGuire, who credited the Bucs' linebackers for their success against the rush. "We took a different route and tried to make something happen. We have to cut down on the penalties as the season goes on, so we can get back to what we're used to."
Despite a stagnant offensive attack, the Jets defense kept the difference to one possession until midway through the fourth quarterback when Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick hit RB Charles Sims for a six-yard touchdown that extended their lead to 15-3.
"It's very frustrating," McCown said. "You see a defense working hard, playing their tails off and getting stops. As an offense, you want to put drives together. We just weren't executing. It was just sputtering out and even when we got to a third-and-short, we didn't convert that. We have to find a way to be better."
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Playing his former team, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins came on late and reeled in six catches for 67 yards on the Jets' final two drives including a 25-yard catch-and-run on fourth-and-16. The offense mustered a late scoring drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a Robby Anderson 38-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 15-10. Anderson recorded a team-high 85 yards on four catches, three of which were for at least 20 yards. The second-year wideout has now scored in four consecutive games and he became the 16th receiver in franchise history with such a streak in the same season. Despite a nice performance from the 6'3", 190-pound Anderson is focused on correcting the team's mistakes entering the bye week.
"It's tough," he said. "It's just us hurting ourselves. A lot of our mistakes isn't really like a blown coverage or them stopping us. It's just us stopping ourselves. We have to cross that bridge and we have to solve that issue."