You know how many times sports fans say they would rather see their team blown out, than lose in heartbreaking fashion? After last night, I can't agree with that sentiment. I would have much rather seen the Jets play with heart and effort before ultimately losing a hard fought game. Instead I saw the Jets humiliate themselves in front of the entire country, to a degree that nobody could have anticipated.
I wrote during the previous 10 days how last night was the type of game where the Jets could change the guard in the AFC East and have a defining moment in the young Rex Ryan era. Unfortunately, it went as far as possible in the other direction. The Jets only affirmed that they were still chasing the New England Patriots, who were better prepared, more focused, mentally tougher, and simply a better football team in every aspect of the game.
This was easily the worst game the Jets have played since Ryan became the head coach and it couldn't have come at a worse time. The Jets' gregarious head coach, who I still remain a big fan of, was out-matched and out-witted in a big spot, badly. He still has some major growing up to do. Mark Sanchez was uncharacteristically rattled and out of sync for a big game. Over the past two years, he has been inconsistent but always seem to play better when there was more on the line. Disturbingly, that wasn't the case last night.
The Jets defense is sadly a shell of their 2009 edition. They were pushed around, couldn't tackle, and worst of all quit in the second half. There was no demonstration of pride or heart from a unit that talks itself up on a weekly basis.
So, where do we go from here? The good news is that the Jets have a three-game lead for the wild card with four games left to play. It would take a meltdown of epic proportions for the Jets not to make the playoffs. Yet, right now can you really see this team finishing any better than 2-2? How can you expect a team that was so over-matched in New England to go on the road, in the freezing cold and beat the 9-3 Pittsburgh Steelers or the 9-3 Chicago Bears? If you even dare look past that, this team's road to a Super Bowl will ultimately have to go through New England at some point, which is a prospect that is currently impossible to feel confident about.
For now, be happy that it is a short week and that the ailing Miami Dolphins are coming to town. Right now, the Jets need a victory more than anything. They need to convince their home fans this Sunday, that 2010 isn't heading down the path of being a lost cause.