The Jets' 30-0 loss to Miami on Sunday bore some similarities to their 34-13 Black Friday home loss to the Dolphins.
But the impact seemed far greater. Three weeks ago, the Jets were 4-6 and on a three-game losing streak. Sunday, the Green & White were feeling good after their strong closing-kick 30-6 win over the Texans the previous week, and they were about to take on their AFC East rivals with wide receiving great Tyreek Hill sidelined by an ankle injury.
The combination of all those elements left head coach Robert Saleh in a somber mood in the Hard Rock Stadium visitors' interview room.
"Yeah, credit to them. They obviously won the battle up front right from the get," Saleh said of his offense. "It made it hard for us to get anything going running or passing.
"They deserve a lot of credit. ... It just wasn't good enough."
The defense was in some ways better in this game than on Black Friday, at least in yards allowed (290 allowed to 395) and third-down performance (6-of-15 to 11-of-16).
"With the exception of the go-ball, double-move, whatever it was to Jaylen, I thought they fought," Saleh said, referencing the 60-yard strike from Tua Tagovailoa to Jaylen Waddle midway through the second quarter to open Miami's lead to 17-0. "We need to be better on third down. There were a lot of short fields. But overall they fought their tails off."
Even the special teams, which had been effective on fake punts this year, came up short when, on fourth-and-4, upback Ashtyn Davis, who had one conversion on a fake this season, lost a yard. The Dolphins' field position at the Jets 41 set up their second score.
"We never got a chance to call it in the Black Friday game," Saleh said of the play. "We felt we had the look we wanted, but it didn't work out the way we wanted."
The same could be said about much of this season, from Aaron Rodgers' injury early on opening night against the Bills through the 5-9 record after Sunday's loss that ensured no better than an 8-9 season. But Saleh kept his focus ahead, not looking behind but ahead toward Sunday's final home game against Washington, followed by road matches at Cleveland and New England.
"It's disappointing, starting from the first series of the year all the way to now. It's been a constant battle,": he said. "I do appreciate the heck out of our guys. We've still got three games left to finish strong. As bad as we feel now, we've got to remember that we felt pretty good last week, too. And we've got a good Washington team coming in licking their chops. So we've got to go take care of business and take care of that one."
Saleh also remained upbeat that the development of some outstanding young players will not be sidetracked by the way this season has unfolded. Second-year wideout Garrett Wilson, for instance, wasn't targeted until the third quarter and finished with three receptions for 29 yards, all on the same third quarter drive that ended on an interception thrown by backup QB Trevor Siemian after their best penetration of the day to the Dolphins 33. The CBS cameras offered the frustration Wilson was feeling with the unfolding game.
"Garrett's an emotional young man. His competitive spirit is going to be on tilt, always. There isn't as good a teammate in football as him," Saleh said. "It's a week-to-week league. He's fine. He knows everyone's working, everyone's trying to put their best forward. Obviously it didn't work out today."
See the best game action photos during Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins.