Linebacker Calvin Pace said about all he needed to yesterday on the Jets’ 16-13 overtime loss: “It’s one situation where you keep letting them hang in there and they keep building confidence. They made more plays than us. We definitely had more than enough chances to pull that out, but we didn’t.”
Yes, the Jets let one slip away. A career-day for running back Thomas Jones (24 carries, 159 yards), a solid contribution from wide receiver Brad Smith (four carries, 59 yards…four catches 29 yards) and 14 Oakland penalties for 85 yards were not enough to beat the 1-4 Raiders. In the NFL, ‘good losses’ do not exist, but Sunday’s debacle reaches completely to the other end of the spectrum. For a team which invested $140 million this offseason, then added one of the most prolific passers in NFL history, this loss had to bite Eric Mangini like none other. As pretty as Mangini tried to paint the defeat in yesterday’s press conference-crediting Oakland’s endless pressure on Favre to “uncommon” pressure schemes-losing to the Raiders is inexcusable. The Jets have another very winnable game this Sunday (home against the 1-5 Kansas City Chiefs) but it will be a while before the Jets lose the taste of the Oakland defeat.
Brett Favre called it “one of the toughest losses of my career.” That is saying alot for a 18-year veteran who came within one win of his third Super Bowl appearance last season and fell short in Super Bowl XXXII to John Elway’s Broncos. But at Sunday’s conclusion, it was Favre who was beat up all too often. Oakland sacked Favre three times and pounded him into the turf on many more occasions. With that said, Favre looked his age (39). Mangini preaches turnover-free football within his offense and Favre threw two costly interceptions. The first came inside the redzone, as Favre tried to fit a ball into tight coverage to wide reciever Jerricho Cotchery. The second came when Cotchery seemingly broke off his route, but Favre sailed his pass deep. Favre also fumbled three times and was neutralized by an aggressive Oakland defense.
Running Back: A
The Jets had been waiting for Jones to have his breakout performance, but it just so happens it was overshadowed by the painful defeat. Jones was every bit the Jets hoped he would be, as he displayed the power to run inside and the elusiveness to run outside. It was Jones’ first 100-yard rushing performance since Week One in Miami (22 carries, 101 yards) and his highest single-game total since he ran for 173 yards on Sept. 15, 2002 as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. Leon Washington (three carries, 19 yards, one touchdown) made the most of his limited action in the offensive gameplan.
Wide Receivers: C
Minus Smith, who proved effective through reverses and quick slants, the wide reciever unit had its toughest day of the season. Cotchery (one catch, zero yards) was limited in the second half with an undisclosed injury and Laveranues Coles (four catches, 51 yards) was a non-factor throughout. Chansi Stuckey (two catches, 48 yards) was an effective target on the final drive of regulation leading to Jay Feely’s game-tying 52-yard field goal.
Tight Ends: B
Chris Baker was a favorite target of Favre’s early, as he caught four passes for 30 yards on the opening drive. However, Sunday’s key moment for Baker came in overtime, when he was unable to reach a Favre pass because he fell to the field. Other than Baker, the only other tight end to record a catch was Dustin Keller, who caught one pass for six yards. Bubba Franks spent most of the game on the sidelines after leaving early in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury. While the unit’s contribution through the air was limited, a lot of credit has to go to its blocking in the running game.
Offensive Line: C
Favre was only sacked three times, but the 18-year veteran was pummeled all too often. At times it seemed as though Favre was getting hit or hurried on every dropback, limiting the Jets’ play-selection to five-yard routes. For a unit that was expected to stabilize the offense, they were clearly out-played by the Raiders. After receiving criticism for its run blocking in recent weeks, the line paved the way for 242 yards on 7.2 yards per carry. Such a high total should have been enough to grab a win.
Defensive Line: C
Perhaps the most overlooked statistic of Sunday’s loss was the fact that the Jets sacked Raiders’ quarterback JaMarcus Russell just twice. Defensive end Shaun Ellis brought down Russell on a meaningless dropback with ten seconds left in the first half, while the second was recorded as a team sack. They gave Russell too much time to roam around the backfield and fire darts to open targets. The second-year quarterback easily had his most effective outing of the season, completing 17-of-30 passes for 203 yards and one touchdown. The Jets proved serviceable in limiting an Oakland rushing attack to 153 yards on 38 carries (4.0 average). Oakland entered Sunday averaging 141 yards per contest and 4.6 yards per carry.
Eric Barton and David Harris combined to lead the linebacking core with seven tackles apiece. The unit helped limit the Raiders to just 16 points, but in the process, no big plays were made. Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas were non-factors in the pass rush.
Where are the big plays? Through six games, the unit has totaled just two interceptions. Russell entered the afternoon with a measley 73.2 quarterback rating, but that rating jumped to 88.6 in the defeat. Wide receiver Javon Walker (five catches, 75 yards, one touchdown) had his first noteworthy day of the season. Kerry Rhodes’ blitz during the second half failed, leaving tight end Zach Miller open for the long completion. Abram Elam was whistled for an inexcusable 15-yard facemask penalty in the fourth quarter.
Similar to the safety position, Dwight Lowery, Darrelle Revis and Hank Poteat were non-factors. Russell looked like a cool and collective quarterback, rather than his usual jittery self. Perhaps it was because too many receivers were left open.
Special Teams: C-
Washington’s muffed punt in the first quarter was costly. The Raiders recovered the ball at the Jets’ 16-yard line and tied the game up with a field goal. Raiders’ punter Shane Lechler had the better afternoon than Reggie Hodges, booming five punts inside the 20-yard line. The Raiders’ fake punt was a back breaker for the Jets’ as a stop would have handed them prime field position. Feely’s 52-yard field goal was clutch.