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C.J. Mosley: 'We've Just Got to Find a Way to Get Off the Field, Find a Way to Cause Turnovers'

Cowboys' Third Down Efficiency Took Its Toll on Jets' Defensive Engine


The Jets defense, a powerful engine in their opening-night home win over Buffalo, thought they could be the driver of the Green & White fleet following Aaron Rodgers' Achilles injury.

And the D may still be all that. But it may not be able to make the difference in every game this season. Sunday's 30-10 loss at Dallas was a case in point.

"We just couldn't get off the field on third down," head coach Robert Saleh said. "Give them credit. They were efficient ahead of the chains, and when we did catch them in third-and-long, they were still able to capitalize. When you're racking up plays — I think we saw 90 today [actually 83] — you run out of gas."

The turnover pump, from which four takeaways flowed in the Bills win, went dry with no takeaways at Dallas, even though CB Sauce Gardner came close twice.

The first missed opportunity, late in the first quarter, wasn't for Gardner's lack of trying. It came at the end of CeeDee Lamb's first big backbreaker of a catch for 31 yards to get Dallas away from its own 3. Lamb fumbled at the end of the play when Sauce ripped the ball from his grip after a spin, but Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz, hustling upfield behind the play, fell on the loose ball and the home team was on its way to its first field goal and a 10-0 lead.

The second miss stung more because Gardner said he was focused on coming down with more than the two picks he had in his sterling Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign. And he dropped a pick-six of 55 yards or so that likely would have given the Jets a 14-10 lead with under six minutes left in the first half.

"I dropped a pick today. I don't like that," Gardner said in the locker room, assessing his first road game of his second pro season. "I played pretty solid, I don't think I gave up many yards today. I gave up a couple of tackles, and I've got to make those."

"We didn't get turnovers this game," defensive captain and MLB C.J. Mosley said, adding with a smile, "Sauce almost had one. But we've got to take advantage of our opportunities. ... We've just got to find a way to get off the field, find a way to cause turnovers."

Gardner shouldn't be viewed as a scapegoat just because Lamb roared like a lion in this game. Different Jets DBs covered him, but the Cowboys' fourth-year wideout turned the coverage into so much Swiss cheese with his 11 receptions — tied with a number of others for the ninth-most receptions in a game by an opposing wideout in Jets history — for 143 yards from Dak Prescott.

"CeeDee's a heck of a player," Saleh said. "I have to go look at the tape on that. I know he caught us in a double move early. And they did a nice job in that regard, in terms of taking what we gave them. Like I said, they stayed ahead of the chains and we just couldn't get off the field on third down."

The last great example of not getting off the turf came on one of Lamb's last catches, in the third quarter. Prescott, facing third-and-14 from the Jets 39, rolled right and rifled a completion to the wideout as he headed out of bounds, in front of Gardner and past Mosley, for 15 yards. From the QB's perspective, that was Prescott and the Cowboys' eighth conversion in their first11 third-down situations. (They finished 9-of-18). The Pokes rode that conversion to their next field goal and a 21-10 lead.

See the best game action photos during the Week 2 matchup against the Cowboys.

Suffice it to say the Jets faced a Dallas buzzsaw in a bad place. They were on a short week on the road, the Cowboys were at AT&T Stadium on less short of a week for their home opener. The Jets thought, especially before Rodgers' injury but even after with their strong defense and team approach, that they might be one of the AFC's best teams. And of course they still can be.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, look to be solidly one of the NFC's best, after beating the Giants and Jets by a combined 70-10.

But Saleh softly but firmly said Sunday's defeat it won't take the wind out of the Green & White's sails.

"It's not going to snowball," he said. "Dallas played a really good game and that's a good football team, too. They played, I feel, about as good as you could. I tip my hat to them. When you can't get off the field on third down, you're adding plays onto your legs and eventually you're going to run out of gas."

But this week, the defense and the Jets as a whole have that extra day in a regular week to gas up and get their legs back under them. And there's no opponent to help them come out firing on all cylinders back at the home garage than the Patriots.

"There's a lot of plays on everybody's body," Mosley said. "Tomorrow we've got to come in, get our work in, get our mind right, and get ready for next Sunday."

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