The Jets came to the city of Brotherly Love knowing that (a) they had never in their history beaten the Eagles, and (b) they would have to win here for the first time ever if they wanted to continue their roll toward the playoffs.
And they did a lot wrong in trying to achieve that win. The ultimate sin was not taking the home crowd out of the game. Instead they allowed the Eagles and their fans to climb to a 28-0 lead in the game's first 20 minutes.
The Jets never got back into it. Guilty of costly turnovers, a multitude of penalties and an inability to prevent big plays from RB LeSean McCoy, TE Brent Celek and QB Michael Vick, they fell to Philadelphia, 45-19, and saw their record also fall to 8-6, ending a three-game winning streak. Not to mention seeing their record to the Eagles dropping to 0-9.
"Obviously a horrendous performance by us," said head coach Rex Ryan.
"We're better than that," said QB Mark Sanchez. "We're much better than that."
"It was embarrassing," linebacker David Harris. "We got outplayed, outcoached, out-executed, out-everythinged. Any word you want to put after 'out,' it happened to us today. We didn't show up."
Yet if the Jets needed some consolation from this game in which they were outgained, 420 yards to 241, gave up 21 points after their three first-half turnovers, and committed 11 penalties, they got it in the playoff-scenario picture that they see now in front of them.
"Coming out of this game, we have to win all our games to control our own destiny," Ryan said, meaning wins against the Giants at home on Christmas Eve and at Miami on Jan. 1. "
"Two-and-oh and we're in," Sanchez said.
But with the Bengals beating the Rams, that muddies the picture some. If it comes down to Jets and Bengals for the sixth seed, both at 10-6, it's likely but not yet a lock that the Jets would get the tiebreaker. In that case both teams would have the same conference record (7-5) and vs. common opponents (3-2), which would take them to the strength-of-victory tiebreaker. At the moment the Jets hold a five-win lead in that category, but that advantage could melt if the "wrong" opponents win and the "right" opponents lose the next two weeks. We'll have more on the Jets' tiebreaker situation as we get that information from the NFL.
Even after their shaky first half, there was a sliver of a glimmer of hope for the Jets. They had scored the last 13 points of the first half and got the ball to start the third quarter. But they couldn't move, and then Vick and Celek moved the ball a lot — 73 yards on one catch-and-run to the Jets 1.
Harris said giving up the catch was on him, but for Celek it was one more of a game full of big plays after the catch. Said CB Darrelle Revis: "I think this is a position that can hurt you and we need to make some changes in many phases to stop this position from scoring. If the tight end makes a big play, it's not on one guy usually but on the whole defense. We just need to play better as a defense."
From there Alex Henery kicked a 28-yard field goal and Philly opened a 25-point lead with 19:21 left in the game.
And then in the first 20 seconds of the fourth quarter McCoy swept around an open right end for a 33-yard touchdown, his third of the day, making him the first three-TD rusher against the Jets since the Bengals' Kenny Watson had the trifecta at Cincinnati in 2007.
The Jets finally struck again with 9:40 left when Sanchez hit Plaxico Burress with a 9-yard fade. Burress made a tremendous one-hand grab but was initially ruled out of bounds as he came down on the side of the end zone. However, Ryan challenged the call and ref Clete Blakeman reversed the call, saying Burress had possession and got his knee down first.
So it was a touchdown, but it sliced the Eagles' lead to a mere 45-19. That's the kind of game it was. Too many firsts and bests by the opponents, not enough for the Jets. And as a result, the pressure that didn't seem to be able to get greater than facing six must-win games just to get into the playoffs just lurched into the red zone — and this time we don't mean inside the opponents' 20.
It all starts again with the home game against the "away" team, the Giants, at MetLife Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"It's going to be ridiculous," Ryan said of the atmosphere of the week of hype and then at the game. "That's a war. Whoever loses probably is out. We're both fighting for our playoff lives. To say there won't be any extra incentive, that's not right. We know what this one's all about. If you want to own your town, you've gotta win this game. Everybody's going to put all their chips in and we'll see what happens."
"Both of the teams are really going to want the game because they need it," said FB John Conner. "We'll see in the end who wants it more."
A Bad Start to the Day
After the Jets defense stalled the Eagles on the game's first possession, the offense took over and moved toward midfield. But disaster struck in the form of a Santonio Holmes fumble after a reception. Philadelphia's Juqua Parker picked up the loose ball and rambled 47 yards to the end zone for a 7-0 lead by the hosts just 6:07 into the proceedings.
The Green & White got a break after their first punt of the day when the Eagles' Curtis Marsh, bothered by Isaiah Trufant, ran into the bouncing T.J. Conley kick, with Ellis Lankster falling on the ball just inbounds at the Eagles 14.
But almost as quickly, the Jets gave it right back, and Holmes again was the culprit. Sanchez's pass bounced off his hands near his helmet and right to CB Asante Samuel. That broke the offense's prodigious streak of 12 consecutive red zone drives with a touchdown.
And the Eagles showed the Jets what to do with such a present, driving the field to Vick's toss, just before getting crushed by Calvin Pace (for which he was penalized), to Celek, who brought in the ball one-handed and fought his way across the goal line for a 26-yard TD and a 14-0 lead.
Clearly the Jets' work was cut out for them. On the other hand, this has been the season in the NFL of wiping out large deficits. Which way would the Jets go?
At the top of the second quarter, that direction was not upward. Vick — with the aid of a second personal foul, this one on Marcus Dixon — led the Birds' third TD drive of the half, and Vick did the honors with an 11-yard bootleg left, diving for the pylon ahead of Kyle Wilson's tackle attempt. That made it 21-0 with 12:18 left in the first half.
Then it went to 28-0 when Sanchez on what seemed like a busted third-down play, scrambled into a fumble forced by DT Mike Patterson and recovered by CB Joselio Hanson at the Jets 21. Two plays later, McCoy stormed right through the middle of the Jets defense untouched for a 9-yard score with 9:57 left in the half.
Dustin Keller reeled in a 41-yard bomb from Sanchez at the Eagles 20, finally a promising play for the offense. But the Jets couldn't do much with the field position, so Nick Folk came on to put the visitors' first points.
But then the Jets capitalized on an opponent gift. On the ensuing kickoff, Lewis fumbled and Lankster came up with his second ST recovery of the game at the PHI-24. In three plays, Sanchez threaded a TD pass to Holmes from 25 yards out and it was suddenly 28-10. But Holmes, who made a great play, then committed his third error of the game with a "Fly Eagles Fly" taunt in the end zone.
Yet that goof didn't hurt because three plays later, the Eagles turned the ball over again when Mike DeVito, playing in only his fourth game in the last eight due to his knee issues, punched the ball out of McCoy's grasp, with Brodney Pool picking it up and running 30 yards to the PHI-27.
A touchdown would have been nice here but the Eagles stymied the offense and Folk came on for a 28-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 28-13 with 46 seconds left. Philly tried to mount a scoring drive in those remaining ticks of the clock but on the last play of the half, with Kyle Wilson rushing and expertly refusing to be faked out by Vick, the Eagles QB heaved up a ball that David Harris intercepted to end the first 30 minutes.
Sanchez finished 15-for-26 passing for 150 yards, two TDs and two INTs. ... Shonn Greene ran for 73 yards on 18 carries. ... Harris led the defense with seven tackles and Mo Wilkerson, Bart Scott and Marcus Dixon each had a sack of Vince Young, who replaced the unsacked Vick. ... The last time Keller had a longer reception than his 41-yarder today was on his 45-yard TD catch-and-run at Cincinnati in the 2010 AFC Wild Card Game. ... Lankster's the first Jet to recover two ST fumbles in a game since at least 1983.
Coincidence that in consecutive seasons, in the game after S Jim Leonhard suffered a season-ending injury, the defense gave up 45 points? ... DE Jason Babin had three sacks of Sanchez. ... Only one TE ever had more receiving yardage in a game against the Jets than Celek did today. That was Ozzie Newsome, the current Ravens GM, who had 14 catches for 191 yards. The Colts' Ken Dilger also had 156 yards on seven catches in the Jets' 1996 home opener.