After losing to the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday afternoon, disappointment was the common theme among the Jets' defensive corps. Throughout last week's practices, an emphasis was placed on stopping, or at least slowing, Oakland RB Darren McFadden. As the final seconds ticked off the clock and the Raiders came away with the 34-24 victory, McFadden had completed a career day: 171 yards and two TDs on 19 carries.
"McFadden had a huge game," said head coach Rex Ryan. "Against a kid like that, you'd better set the edges. He outran us and made some great plays."
Overall, the Jets defense surrendered 234 yards on the ground and an average of 7.3 yards per carry. It was a sobering day for the normally stout Jets run defense, and Ryan felt he was responsible for the hiccup.
"They made plays, we didn't. I think that starts with me," the coach said. "You've got to look down deep, you've got to start with yourself to see why it happened. It's my responsibility, and we've got to get this thing fixed."
It was a frustrating four quarters for the Jets as they amassed over 400 yards of offense, outgaining the Raiders by 56 yards. While the offense played well enough to win, the despondent defense grudgingly accepted the final outcome.
"It's extremely frustrating," said S Jim Leonhard. "You game-plan for a team, then you allow them to dictate what they want to do. It's embarrassing. You can't expect to win in the NFL giving up 200 rushing yards in a game."
Coming into the Week 3 matchup, the Jets had allowed 176 yards on the ground in their first two games combined. The offensive explosion by the Raiders runners was merely an aberration according to Jets' defenders, who are already looking forward to righting their ship.
"This was a tough environment," said LB Bart Scott of the O.co Coliseum home-opener crowd of 61,546. "Next week doesn't get any easier. We have to rise up. You've got to give them credit, but we know our mistakes are very fixable things."
Making matters more difficult for the Jets were the penalties that continually plagued both sides of the ball. The Jets, who weren't penalized once in their opening-night win over the Cowboys, racked up seven penalties for 61 yards during Sunday's loss.
"I was shocked," said Ryan. "Both teams were penalized seven times apiece, and there were some big ones — pass interference penalties, defensive holdings."
After recording seven takeaways over the first two weeks of the season, the Jets did not force a single turnover in Oakland. The Green & White defense came up short in many aspects on Sunday, but their performance on third downs was encouraging as the Raiders were 0-for-8 on conversion attempts.
Still, there was no celebrating the third-down dominance. Veteran and defensive captain Sione Pouha was not proud of his group's performance, and didn't try to sugarcoat the effort.
"We take it on ourselves," said the defensive tackle. "We pride ourselves on playing Jets defense. We didn't do that today."
Even with the disappointing showing by the defense, QB Mark Sanchez insisted that there is blame to be accepted on the offensive side of the ball as well.
"We all had our hand in this," said Sanchez. "I don't think there's one side of the ball to blame. We had momentum going in our favor and we kind of let them hang around. I wouldn't point the finger at the defense, because there is plenty more we can do on offense as well."
The road ahead for the Jets doesn't get any easier. A date with the Ravens in Baltimore next Sunday night is followed by the first AFC East battle of the season against the Patriots at New England on Oct. 9.
Ryan knows that even though the loss to the Raiders was particularly painful, it still is only one loss. He tried putting the game in perspective before the team flew from Oakland back home.
"The season is not over. We'll get it corrected, and I have all the confidence in the world in that," he said. "We have a great staff. We've got a defense that's been together. And we know if we play it right, we'll get it fixed."