During the week-long buildup to Sunday's AFC East showdown between the New York Jets and New England Patriots Jets coach Rex Ryan kept talking about how he thought his team had improved since a 30-21 Week 5 loss to the Pats. He kept talking about how the Patriots were the measuring stick for the Jets, saying things like "You want to see where you stack up with them ... We'll see who the better team is now."
The answer to that was pretty obvious. In a game the Jets had built up a make-or-break one for their season, they did not measure up. In fact, they did not come close.
"I thought we'd play a lot better. I thought we had really improved, I really did," Ryan said. "I think we did improve, but when you make those types of mistakes - you fumble a punt, you have a poor timeout...(our) time management was (an) absolutely critical error. That's my responsibility. I own that one. You make that many mistakes against that team, there's no chance."
The Jets had won three straight games entering Sunday. The Patriots had lost two straight and coach Bill Belichick was actually beginning to hear some criticism. Playing at home at MetLife Stadium, things seemed set up perfectly for the Jets to take control of the AFC East.
Ryan's team could not seize the moment, however. At 5-4 with seven games remaining the Jets head to Denver for a Thursday night game against Tim Tebow and the Broncos' 1940s offense (eight passes Sunday). The Jets have seven games remaining, and Sunday's loss puts them in the position of once again fighting for their playoff lives.
"What am I going to say? Maybe I should guarantee the fact that we're out of it," Ryan said. "The last time I did that, we made the playoffs. Yeah, we don't have a chance."
Of course the Jets have a chance. Still, though, in a game Sunday they desperately wanted to win they showed they still don't measure up.