Little was working for the Jets' offense on a dank and dreary Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
Whether it was early "missed opportunities," as HC Robert Saleh said, turnovers or untimely and damaging penalties, the offense could not find a rhythm or the end zone in a 13-8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the fifth loss in a row for the Green & White (4-8) coming after a three-game winning streak.
With limited production from an offense directed by QB Tim Boyle, Saleh tried to animate the unit when he replaced Boyle (14 of 25 for 128 yards and an interception) with Trevor Siemian. Siemian had been signed to the practice squad in September and elevated to the 53-man roster on Nov. 21 as Boyle's backup when Saleh decided to bench Zach Wilson.
"I was just trying to spark the offense," Saleh said after the game. When asked about who the QB would be in next Sunday's game against visiting Houston, he said: "I'm not there yet with regards to next week."
Siemian is in his second go-round with the Jets, having appeared in one game for the team in 2019. He said he found out he would be going under center toward the end of the third quarter after a Boyle pass intended for Garrett Wilson (3 receptions for 50 yards) was intercepted by Jessie Bates at the Atlanta 32-yard line.
"I just tried to get loose, get a couple plays ready," Siemian said. "You're like let's try to win the game, that's all."
When the Falcons were forced to punt after burning a couple of minutes off the clock, Siemian entered with 13:06 to play. He quickly connected with TE Tyler Conklin for 16 yards. Two plays later, RB Breece Hall drew an unnecessary roughness penalty after catching a screen pass and the Jets were in business with a first down near midfield. The drive, however, stalled.
"It's frustrating for everybody," Siemian said. "You have to realize that the margin for error in this league is so razor thin. Things could be so close and could then go totally the other way. It's been good being around this group, they're wired the right way, we've got some grit. This week I just want to get better and get ready to play on Sunday."
For all the challenges (fumbles by RB Dalvin Cook and Siemian) plus 11 penalties for 71 costly yards and converting 2 of 15 on third down (13.3%), Siemian and the Jets were still alive as time on the clock continued to evaporate.
With 2:52 left to play and the Jets at the Atlanta 49-yard line after Siemian's 8-yard scramble, the QB was hit as he was about to release the ball. The officials initially ruled it an incomplete pass, but the call was reversed (Atlanta was successful on its two challenges in the game) and ruled a fumble.
Still, the Jets had another opportunity to mount a late drive for the victory after getting the ball at their own 7-yard line with 1:53 to play. A holding penalty drawn by G.Wilson kept a drive alive and then Siemian found rookie Xavier Gipson for 25 yards to the 37, but a pair of incomplete passes, another fumble (recovered by rookie OL Carter Warren) and a final incompletion sealed the defeat.
"I can't put the ball on the ground," Siemian said. "On fourth down, I was trying to do something ridiculous. I had the ball on the ground too many times. My job is to take care of the ball, for sure."
Saleh added: "I thought he [Siemian] did a good job. He got that first completion to Conk and I will challenge him when we go back to one to Garrett. There were a couple of protection breakdowns, but overall I felt he did fine. But it still wasn't good enough."
In difficult circumstances, Siemian completed 5-of-13 passes for 66 yards and was sacked 3 times as the Jets' offense tried desperately to drive for a score.
"We had plenty of opportunities to win," Siemian said. "We had a short field, got across the 50. It's frustrating. Yeah."
Siemian became the fourth quarterback to play for the Green & White this season, and Saleh was asked if he might consider going back to Z.Wilson against the Texans.
"He's always in consideration," Saleh said. "To what level ... I'm not there yet."
See the best game action photos during Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.