The Jets were missing their bearded battery. C Nick Mangold was deactivated for today's game against the Raiders at O.co Coliseum with his neck injury, and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick left after the sixth offensive play with an injured left thumb, to return only briefly in a fourth-quarter cameo.
Those weren't the only things that took the spark out of the Green & White attack. QB Derek Carr and the Raiders' suddenly awakened offense often moved at will against the No. 2 overall defense heading into Week 8. And despite a late rally generated by backup QB Geno Smith, the result was a tough 34-20 loss to the Silver & Black in the Black Hole.
"It's a blow," head coach Todd Bowles said. "We've got guys in this locker room that are mature enough. We've got to bounce back and get ready for next week."
But Bowles wasn't happy with the Green & White showing and neither were the players. As DE Sheldon Richardson said, the Jets came up "more than a little short. They outplayed us, outschemed us. Everything. From pillar to post."
Here are eight observations on today's loss, which dropped the Jets to 4-3 with their second road loss in two weeks and two home games against Jacksonville and Buffalo ahead:
1. On the Down Slide
Fitzpatrick showed why Bowles and the Jets coaches want him to slide feet first. On the sixth offensive play of the game, he scrambled for 12 yards, dived head-first — and came up with a left thumb ligament injury after the hit by CB Charles Woodson. While Fitz was getting the thumb wrapped, Geno Smith came on for his first action of 2015 and continued the opening drive to the Raiders 22, from where Nick Folk hit from 40 yards out for a 3-0 lead.
"We'll get an MRI tomorrow, but yeah, basically it got ripped off a little bit," Fitzpatrick said on ESPN New York 98.7 FM, seeming to refer to the ligament damage that Bowles said he got. "I just couldn't get it to go back to where it needed to go."
2. Carr Still Driving
Bowles and the Jets defenders were well aware of the danger of Carr and his array of offensive weapons. Carr last week became one of two QBs to direct seven consecutive scoring drives at the start of a game, and he came out still firing on all cylinders, leading TD drives of 78, 76 and 78 yards to start this one before Sebastian Janikowski missed a 52-yard field goal. For the day he completed 23 of 36 for 233 yards, four TDs, no INTs and no sacks.
Photos from Sunday's Game in Oakland
3. DBs on Their Heels
Carr wasn't alone in making the Raiders offense roar. His first TD pass was a blitz-beating 5-yard fade to 6'4" WR Andre Holmes over 5'9" CB Buster Skrine. No. 2 was some tackle-breaking midfield YAC by WR Michael Crabtree to complete a 36-yard score. No. 3: Holmes beat Antonio Cromartie down the right sideline for a 49-yarder. The yardage was getting longer and the tackling was getting worse...
4. The Jones Goes On
Taiwan Jones took a swing pass from Carr to the right side and proceeded to slice through four missed tackle attempts — by Demario Davis, Marcus Williams, Marcus Gilchrist and a late second-effort try by Sheldon Richardson — to complete a 59-yard TD jaunt to a 28-6 lead. It was the longest scrimmage play against the Jets' defense this season.
Nos. 3 and 4 had Bowles facing some hard questions about his secondary and his no-sacks pass rush.
"We didn't play well as a defense," the coach said. "Defensive line, linebackers, defensive backs, defensive coaches — we didn't play well. It's surprsiing, but I've got confidence in these guys. We'll move on, we'll get better, and we'll learn from this."
5. Offensive Sputtering
For the second straight game, Chris Ivory faced stiff resistance. He managed 15 yards on 10 first-half carries and finished with 17 yards on 15 carries.
RG Willie Colon credited Wesley Johnson, who stepped in for Mangold and "played a hell of a game for his first start." But, Colon added, "It was just an old-fashioned butt-kicking. They came out with more energy than us. Our spirits were up, we were battling, but we just didn't get it done."
6. First-Half O Is All Folk
Geno, filling in for Fitzpatrick most of the rest of the half, started slowly after the opening FG drive with two three-and-outs and a one-play out on a loaded-up throw for Brandon Marshall that S Charles Woodson ranged over to pick for his 65th career interception.
Then Smith engineered a late-first-half minimarch to Folk's second FG, from 38 yards out. Folk thus made it 30-for-30 in FG tries under 40 over the past two years. But that cut the Green & White deficit to 21-6. The 15-point hole was the Jets' first halftime deficit against the Raiders in eight games and the largest in their last 13 meetings with the Silver & Black. The last larger Raiders lead was by 21-0 en route to their 31-7 Sunday night win late in 2000.
7. Decker Stays on a Roll
Even a fine play, a Geno-to-Brandon connection for 28 yards to the Oakland 22, looked bleak when Marshall limped out of bounds with a right ankle ding. But Marshall shook it off and returned for Smith's first touchdown pass of the season, a 4-yarder to Eric Decker past CB D.J. Hayden for Deck's fifth TD catch in the six games he's played. That cut the Raiders' edge to 28-13 midway through the third quarter.
8. Geno Juice Runs Out
Smith did a good job of getting up to speed and at least putting the visitors back in the conversation. His rollout 1-yard TD toss to TE Kellen Davis (who doesn't catch a lot of passes but, with 14 TDs on 53 career receptions, makes them count) made it 17 points in a four-play span to get the Jets back to 34-20 down with 8:37 to play. Geno helped that drive with his 29-yard sideline scamper, the game's longest run.
"I thought his effort was awesome," Fitzpatrick said. "It's not easy coming off the bench, especially early in the game. He fought his tail off out there and i was proud of the way he played.
But Smith's fourth-and-3 pass fell incomplete from the Raiders 38 with 5:33 left, then on two desperation drives, Geno couldn't find a third-down target on one drive and a second-down target on another and took two sacks. A fourth-and-19 for 22 to Decker was interesting, but Marshall couldn't hold on to a fourth-down Smith pass at the goal line with 23 seconds left.