Jets linebacker Jason Taylor said it best in the locker room after the Green & White's 9-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers: "Stats don't really count at the end of the day."
Head coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's crew held the typically potent Packers to 237 total yards, 81 rushing yards and 2-for-14 on third-down conversions, but as linebacker Bart Scott added, it didn't add up into another notch in the victory column.
"We just played coverage, we mixed it up, brought pressure, simulated pressure," Scott said. "We mixed our personnel groups up. We just tried to make plays. I think guys did a good job, but it wasn't enough to get a win."
Three Mason Crosby field goals made the difference on a windy Sunday afternoon in the Jets' first 1 p.m. home game this season. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is normally a handful for opposing secondaries, but he was held to 15-of-34 passing for 170 yards while being sacked twice. Wide receiver Greg Jennings was effective to the tune of six receptions for 81 yards, but after halftime All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis played him 1-on-1 and Rodgers had some trouble connecting.
"We just changed some things up. Our defensive schemes are very complex," Revis said. "We wanted to throw a couple of things at them. Dwight Lowery got a sack in the game, so we just wanted to bring pressure different ways and try to make him move."
David Harris was in Rodgers' face throughout the day — in addition to a 9-yard sack, he laid a walloping hit on the Packers signalcaller just as he released a fourth-quarter pass. In a microcosm of the day, Rodgers completed the pass for a first down and all the stout Jets defense could do was move on to the next play. It was a credit to Rodgers that he pulled himself off the turf after Harris came untouched up the gut, hitting Rodgers in the chest and planting him on the ground.
"He got it off just in time," Harris said. "He made an NFL throw. Give him credit. He made a tough completion when he needed to."
That occasion was one of many in which the Jets defense started to look like the unit that was first in a number of statistical categories last season. Defensive end Shaun Ellis is one of the defense's intimidators, and came out of the tunnel during introductions dressed as "The Undertaker" in light of the day's Halloween festivities. The intensity was there, particularly in the second half, but the Jets couldn't quite put the nail in the coffin.
"We finished the game strong. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win," Ellis said. "Just overall communication was better, knowing assignments and having everybody healthy."
Safety James Ihedigbo said Rodgers was blanketed by a QB spy during most of the game, and in many cases that was his job, knowing that Rodgers has impressive scrambling ability. Going into the game he had three touchdown and 127 rushing yards, and though he was held to three runs for 5 yards on Sunday, he made just enough plays to best the Jets.
"Nothing feels good about a loss," Ihedigbo said. "We win and lose as a team. It's something that we just have to wear it this week. Despite how we played, offense-, defense- and special-teams-wise, we have to wear the loss and move forward. We have Detroit next week and have to get that W."
Facing the 2-5 Lions on Sunday will be an opportunity for Ryan's group to refocus and attempt to put together a top-shelf performance in all three phases. Returning to Detroit will be a homecoming for a number of Jets, particularly their linebacking corps. Scott and Harris both hail from Michigan, and even though he attended high school in Georgia, linebacker Calvin Pace was born in Detroit and is already intent on placing the team's concentration solely on their Week 9 tilt.
"The bottom line is we lost. As a team, we lost," Pace said. "You can't point fingers at any side of the ball, but you have to make more plays. Somebody has to step up. In past weeks, somebody different has stepped up. You have to look at the film, take the good and the bad and keep moving."