Running backs Ty Johnson and Michael Carter each scored on the ground for the Jets on Sunday, but it wasn't enough for Robert Saleh's crew in their 27-20 loss to the Falcons. Atlanta moved to 2-3, riding the arm of Matt Ryan as the 14-year veteran threw for 342 yards and 2 TDs. And rookie TE Kyle Pitts broke out (9-119) while Jets QB Zach Wilson endured a tough afternoon in North London at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Jets head into their bye week with a 1-4 record and will return to action in two weeks at New England against the Patriots.
Ryan fired TD passes to Pitts and Hayden Hurst as the Falcons scored on their first three possessions and took a 17-0 lead.
Ryan was terrific in the first half, connecting on 66.7% of his throws for 189 yards with the two scores. Atlanta totaled 251 yards of offense and had a 20-3 lead at the halftime. During their 1-4 start, the Jets have been outscored in the first half, 75-13 and they've yet to score a point in the first quarter.
"Speaking on the defensive side of the ball, they got us moving left and right, did a good job completing passes behind the linebackers," LB C.J. Mosley said. "We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes on the defensive side that kind of put us in a hole. In this league, you can't get down that early and come back with a win nine times out of 10. It's tough no matter who you're playing, no matter where you are. We have to figure out a way to start faster in the first half on the defensive side of the ball, not have penalties when we're in good positions that get us out of position. We have to be more disciplined."
The Jets actually looked like they had forced a three-and-out on Atlanta's opening possession but linebacker Quincy Williams was called for a roughing the passer penalty and that kept the defense on the field. A week after the unit lined up for 100 plays against the Titans, they were on the field for 42 plays in the first half.
"We'll see it in slow motion, but it looked like [Williams] had his head to the side," Saleh said of the penalty. "Obviously full speed, trying to get to a guy before he throws the ball and right when he lands, you can see him roll off. As of now, I disagree with the call, but we'll see when we get to the tape."
Second-year Jets CB Bryce Hall, who had 3 PDs against Tennessee, was a bright spot in the first two quarters with 2 PDs. Rookie CB Brandin Echols led the Jets with 9 tackles and he also had a PD.
The Jets were on the ropes in the first half, trailing, 17-0, and the Falcons were headed in for more points. Without a first down early in the second quarter, Wilson telegraphed a ball intended for WR Keelan Cole and S Jaylinn Hawkins intercepted it and gave the hot Ryan a set-up at the New York 34. But Mosley bailed out Wilson, delivering a left hook to a ball that was in Hurst's grasp. It came out and rookie nickel cornerback Michael Carter II came up with his first career fumble recovery inside the red zone. The Jets turned the takeaway into points, moving 74 yards before settling for a Matt Ammendola 31-yard field goal.
Then to start the second half, RB Tevin Coleman ripped off a 65-yard return to put the Jets in plus-territory. Seven plays later, Johnson picked up his first TD of the season on a 1-yard run. Matt Ammendola missed the extra point, but the Jets were within striking distance at 20-9.
With the Falcons threatening to put the game out of reach late in the third quarter, Williams got his hat on Mike Davis and the ball popped out. Shaq Lawson recovered for the Jets at the New York 20.
"We got a couple of turnovers," Mosley said. "But we have to find a way to get those interceptions."
The Rookie Ride
The London Eye is the most popular tourist attraction in the United Kingdom. And just like jumping on an enormous Ferris wheel, the Jets are on a ride with rookie QB Zach Wilson. Coming off a scintillating performance against the Titans, Wilson failed to get on track against a Falcons defense that had an uneven start to its season. Against a unit that ranked last in scoring (32 Pts/G), Wilson had completions to eight different receivers but the aerial game was largely quieted. His best throw was a 27-yard rope over the middle to Denzel Mims. Corey Davis had a fabulous grab late and led the Jets with 45 yards receiving. Of Wilson's 192 passing yards, 150 came in the second half, completing 14 of his 19 passes (74%) compared to 38% in the first half (5 of 13).
"It's a multitude of things," Saleh said of the slow start. "The first half, we had a couple of three and outs, couldn't get into a rhythm. When he did get into a rhythm in the second half, he shows that he's pretty good. We have to start faster and I put that on me to try to figure this out over the next week."
Spotting the Falcons a 20-3 lead at the half, the Jets charged back with a 14-point run. And after Carter's second professional TD and Wilson's 2-point conversion to Jamison Crowder, the Jets applied game pressure on the Falcons. But Ryan was cool as ice on the ensuing possession, hitting rookie TE Kyle Pitts for a 39-yard gain and then converting a third-and-13 with a 15-yard connection to wideout Olamide Zaccheaus. Davis' 3-yard TD put the game away with 2:26 remaining.
"Credit Matt Ryan, Arthur [Smith] and the gameplan that they had," Saleh said. "They got us into a couple of beaters. The 3rd-and-13 is disappointing. Those are the ones you have to win and to be honest, they called quick game that conceded for a field goal and they caught us in the perfect call. Credit to them, but when it's the fourth quarter, the game is on the line, close the game. Whether it's a coach making the perfect call, a player making the play, somebody on the team has got to make a play. That's something that a young team will grow into. You have to learn how not to lose and when you start to learn how to win, you have to learn how to close. Those are examples of learning how to close and things I think we'll get better at."
The Jets inactives were RB La'Mical Perine, WR Jeff Smith, TE Tyler Kroft, S Marcus Maye, S Adrian Colbert and CB Isaiah Dunn. … While the Jets converted 50% of their third downs (5 of 10), the Falcons were even more efficient at 64% (9 of 14) and they converted TDs on three of their four tips inside the red area. … With Maye out of the lineup, Sharrod Neasman and Jarrod Wilson started at safety, but Ashtyn Davis once again rotated in the lineup. Wilson was released from the active roster earlier this week, re-signed to the practice squad the following day and was elevated for Sunday's game. … Michael Carter got the start in the backfield and led the club with 38 yards on 10 carries. … Rookie CB Jason Pinnock started opposite Justin Hardee at gunner with Smith and Dunn inactive. … DL Tim Ward had two passes defenses at the line of scrimmage. … A week after racking up seven sacks of Ryan Tannehill, the Jets failed to get a sack on Matt Ryan. They did have eight QB hits, but the crafty veteran avoided big trouble …. Cordarrelle Patterson had 114 yards from scrimmage for Atlanta.