Several different areas were worth examining for why the Jets went from a 16-0 lead to a 26-22 loss at Tennessee on Sunday.
The offense, for instance, produced only 124 passing yards, had five 3-and-out drives and scored no touchdowns, including in three red zone opportunities. The defense yielded 99 yards on two long completions from Marcus Mariota to WR Taywan Taylor (and turned him loose for another long incompletion) with each catch leading to a field goal to fuel the Titans' comeback.
But several Jets expressed strong feelings about what they felt hit their team in the solar plexus in this loss: 11 penalties for 96 yards (with two others not marked off).
"It's tough, man," said S Jamal Adams. "I don't like losing, period, but I don't like giving up a game. We gave that game to them by us not doing the job, us making penalties in the end and just not finishing the ballgame."
"We beat ourselves," said DL Leonard Williams. "We have to give them credit, they stayed strong and finished. But we had them beat all game and we let them get back in because of foolish penalties."
WR Quincy Enunwa suggested a metaphor that was popular among head coach Todd Bowles and the most outspoken players in the locker room.
"Guys have got to look in the mirror," Enunwa said, "and see what they're doing wrong and find out how they can stop getting penalties or MEs [mental errors], that kind of thing."
The infractions were fairly evenly spread out by quarters, but six jumped out, three in the first half and three on the Titans' late game-winning drive:
■ In the first quarter, CB Morris Claiborne's defensive holding wiped out a third-and-5 sack of Mariota.
■ WR Robby Anderson was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the sideline after his 16-yard third-down reception to the TEN-41. Net gain after the markoff: 1 yard.
■ T Kelvin Beachum's holding wiped out a 28-yard Josh McCown completion to TE Chris Herndon to the TEN-47 as the visitors never got to try a FG at the end of the first half.
■ On the first play of the Titans' big drive, from their 14, RT Jack Conklin's hold looked like it would negate a Mariota first-down scramble and set the home team back to its 7. But Claiborne also held on the play and the penalties offset.
■ Two plays later, on second-and-10, Mariota was sacked for a yard loss. But LB Jordan Jenkins was called for illegal use of hands. First down, Titans.
■ On the next play, Mariota got loose on a scramble, fumbled near midfield but recovered the loose ball. Then 15 yards, from Trumaine Johnson's facemask call at the start of the play, moved the ball to the Jets 39 with 1:11 to play. Four plays later the Titans scored the go-ahead TD.
All of the above players mentioned a lack of discipline on the players' part but were not singling out any teammates and were not going at their coaches.
"On those third-down situations or those two-minute situations, when their offense needs a first down, the coaches are not the ones jumping offside," Williams said. "The coaches are not the ones getting holding calls, getting PI [pass interference] or any type of penalties. We are. That's clearly what this game came down to was discipline and having all those penalties, and the coaches were on the sideline, they didn't make those."
"It's not the coaches, man. That game right there was simply on us," Adams said. "We've got to do a better job of being smart football players and knowing that we can't give the opposing team free yards, not in the two-minute situation. It just cannot happen."