At the end of a short bus trip down the New Jersey Turnpike, the Jets were presented with a golden opportunity to increase their stranglehold on the AFC Wild Card race. Instead, they returned to Florham Park dejected after a dizzying 45-19 beatdown at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles.
"We got outplayed, outcoached, out executed, out-everythinged," said LB David Harris. "We didn't show up."
The scoring started early and lasted throughout, as the Jets surrendered the most points in a game since a 45-3 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 13 of 2010. The lopsided defeat left many Jets in disbelief after the game.
"I don't know what happened," said Harris. "It happened so fast. Before we looked up it was 28-0. When you get in a hole that deep, it's hard to come back."
The Eagles scored on three straight offensive possessions in the first and second quarters, opening an huge lead before the Jets were able to tally any points. A late-second-quarter rally cut the halftime score to 28-13, leading many to have visions of a historic comeback. In the end, it was not to be.
The Jets defense focused on slowing QB Michael Vick all week. Sometimes all the preparation in the world still isn't enough. Playing with a nagging rib injury, Vick turned in a vintage performance.
"I've gone against Vick a few times, but he's never had that kind of day against our defense, not even close," said head coach Rex Ryan. "He had it today."
Vick finished the game 15-for-22 passing for 274 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He added another 32 yards on five carries, including an 11-yard touchdown run. As defensive captain Darrelle Revis noted after the game, it's hard to stop what you can't catch.
"He's just a great player," said Revis. "We were right there in the midst of tackling him, and he somehow unbelievably escapes like it's nothing. We played an unbelievable quarterback who just beat us in all phases."
Despite the disgust that was left in the locker room, the Jets knew how capable the Birds were of posting a big offensive number. While their record stands at 6-8, the Eagles are undeniably full of talent, and on Sunday it was painfully obvious.
"Their record doesn't speak for the players they have on that team," said Revis. "They're a great team. We knew this was going to be a tough game for us, especially in this environment. They got on us fast and they beat us. They straight-up beat us."
In addition to Vick, RB LeSean McCoy ran roughshod through the Green & White defense. McCoy ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. With his three scores, McCoy became the Eagles' all-time single-season leader with 20 total touchdowns and leads the NFC with 1,274 rushing yards.
After the game, S Eric Smith was left to analyze the defense's performance against the run.
"Not very good," said Smith. "He scored three times. He did a good job finding holes, especially on the touchdown where he started one way and cut it back for 33 yards. He did a good job making us miss and breaking tackles."
Smith credited the Eagles for their preparation, noting their offense was communicating the Jets coverages before the snap. He said Philadelphia was keen to the Jets' disguises, more so than other teams this season.
"It's frustrating," said Smith. "Guys are down right now. We have no choice but to put this one behind us. We have two games left, and we have to win both of them to get into the playoffs."
The loss sets up a Christmas Eve showdown against their MetLife Stadium roommates, the Giants. Big Blue also dropped their Week 15 matchup to Washington and is in a similarly desperate situation. Players on both sides know what's at stake, and there will surely be no Christmas cheer on Saturday.
"We dug ourselves into a deeper hole, but we have to show up next week to play the Giants," said Harris. "Loser gets eliminated. We have to approach it that way."