The Jets' first and second defenses played an effective first half. Despite the first unit playing without starters Darrelle Revis and Kris Jenkins, they kept the Rams to 150 yards and three field goals for the first 30 minutes and made big plays when they needed to.
Although they weren't able to create a turnover, they shut the Rams down on third down for several drives. Middle linebacker David Harris made a big play early on with a third-down sack of Marc Bulger for a 7-yard loss after the Jets turned the ball over in their own territory, forcing the visitors to settle for a long Josh Brown field goal.
"We brought two on the edge and we made it hard on the running back," said Harris after the game. "He had to make a decision to block out or block in. He chose to block out the guy coming off the edge and I was free to the quarterback. I couldn't miss it. It was a layup, pretty much."
On the next Rams drive, Bulger once again lined up in shotgun in Jets territory, this time on second down. Outside linebacker Calvin Pace got in there early for another 7-yard sack, forcing them ultimately to punt from their territory.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine played with a few blitz packages in getting three sacks on the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback in the first half, and the Rams went 0-for-5 on third downs.
"We ran a lot of simulated pressures," said Harris. "A lot of times it looks like six or seven guys in on a play but it's really only four."
The third sack was with the Rams in the red zone and defensive back Donald Strickland came in to take down Bulger, again for a loss of 7, forcing Brown's third field goal.
"That's our style," said head coach Rex Ryan. "That's the way we'll play — preseason, regular season, it doesn't matter. The league knows what we'll do. We like to pressure."
As linebacker Bart Scott should know, there are more blitzes and pressures where those came from.
"We have plenty," said Scott of a pair of blitzes. "That was just two out of 250."
In the second half, the Jets reserves gave up a few plays that really hurt in the final score as the Rams put 14 more points on the board.
Only 25 seconds into the third quarter, Samkon Gado broke free on a 77 run, slipping out of an attempted tackle by S James Ihedigbo to score a touchdown and put the Rams up, 16-10.
"We gave up a long run and a couple of big passes, and that was the difference of the game," said cornerback Drew Coleman. "The big run scored a touchdown, and we should have made the tackle, we should've had better pursuit."
Coleman, the fourth-year veteran, defensed a pair of third-quarter passes by sticking with the aggressive play that was effective for the defense in the first half.
"I read the route. I was kind of sitting on him a bit, and I kind of read his break," said Coleman. "I was pretty much zoning in on my man, I felt him slowing down, so when he slows down I'm slowing down. My cushion on him wasn't very lengthy. I was kind of tight on him."
On the Rams' drive to end the second quarter, DE Ropati Pitoitua knocked down a pass at the line. In the third quarter, ILB Kenwin Cummings came up big with a one-handed sack, grabbing QB Brock Berlin's jersey and dragging him to the ground for an 11-yard loss.
"You saw a lot of aggressive things," said Scott. "You saw a lot of good hits, but we have to work on the mental aspect. When you don't have it locked down mentally, it can slow you down physically."
On the night, the Jets held the Rams to 2-for-12 on third-down conversions, a measly 17 percent, and recorded four sacks.
Vernon Gholston, who played a lot with the second unit, had a tackle and was in on an assist in the second quarter. In his second preseason, he noticed some good and bad that the defense can take away from this game.
"The first preseason game you pretty much just have to line up, get your communication going and all those things," said Gholston. "With that being, said we had a breakdown in certain areas. The obvious thing is just to go back and watch that film and work on those things and come back and do it again."
Though some guys gave up some plays in the second half that they probably want back, Scott had some words of inspiration for the reserves.
"We have a lot of teaching to do, especially with these young guys," said Scott. "I've been in that situation before. I've been an undrafted free agent out there with the twos and threes and playing the whole thing. You want to put good film out there. The reality of it is that everybody can't make this football team, but if you put good film out there and you learn the defense and you execute, you'll have the opportunity to play somewhere else."
And sometimes your film is good enough that you'll stick around and continue to make plays for the Green & White.