Green Bay, Wisconsin- In what can only be described as a tough and bizarre affair the Jets blew an early 21 to 3 lead and lost to the Green Bay Packers by the final score of 31 to 24.
The Jets appeared to tie the game on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith to Jeremy Kerley but the touchdown was negated when a timeout was called on the Jets sideline.
The timeout was apparently called by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg but according to NFL rules only a head coach or player can call a timeout. Head coach Rex Ryan was dumbfounded on the sideline as he was informed that the tying score did not count.
One thing is for sure, Ryan did not call the timeout.
“I just know for a fact that I did not call the timeout.” Said Ryan, “Of course that would be our fashion that we would score the touchdown and there would be the timeout.”
The “fashion” that Ryan is referring to is the pattern of excruciatingly painful losses the Jets have suffered over the years.
“This is a rough one to say the least” Ryan said on the loss. “We thought the game was really going the way we expected it to go. And then obviously to Green Bay’s credit they made a lot of big plays against us and I think that was the difference in the game obviously.”
You couldn’t script a more perfect beginning to the game for the Jets. On the first play of scrimmage, the Packers rookie center Corey Linsley had a miscommunication with quarterback Aaron Rodgers resulting in a fumbled snap, recovered by Sheldon Richardson.
The Jets capitalized when quarterback Geno Smith was able to scramble for a one-yard touchdown run.
After the touchdown, the Jets defense continued to look dominant sacking Rodgers twice and forcing a quick three and out. Of Green Bay’s first four offensive plays, the Jets had two sacks, a fumble recovery and a deflected pass—can’t get much better than that.
The Jets were able to embark on a six-play 84-yard drive resulting in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Smith to wide receiver Eric Decker. During that drive, Smith looked like a completely different player than the rookie who struggled at times last year, especially on the touchdown pass to Decker.
Facing a blitz, Smith stepped up into the pocket, stared down the blitz, absorbed a clean hit and hit Decker in stride for the touchdown.
After holding the Packers to a field goal, with their bend but don’t break mentality on defense, the Jets, again, were able to march down the field and put seven on the board. This time on a four-yard run by running back Chris Ivory which capped off the 17 play, 80 yard drive.
The Jets offense scored touchdowns on their first three possessions. They were executing perfectly and showed how good their offense can be.
“We can be as good as we want to be.” Said Smith, “It’s all about execution like I always say. We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the guys that want to do it… we think if we execute the way that we should, we can be one of the best there is.”
After two Mason Crosby field goals, the Jets recovered a failed Packers onside kick attempt setting them up with great field position. The Jets seemed poised to put at least three points on the board and head into halftime with a commanding lead.
That’s when Gang Green began their epic collapse. Guard Brian Winters was beat badly by Packers defensive end Mike Daniels, who leveled Smith as he threw a wobbly pass intended for tight end Zach Sudfeld but was intercepted by cornerback Tramon Williams at the Packers 3-yard line.
“I got to get the ball out faster, I got to get the ball out faster.” Said Smith, “I got hit as I was throwing, the ball flew up, I was praying that someone knocks it down (or) it falls to the ground. In hindsight, looking back on it like I said I got to get the ball out faster. The guy was open, I had a good shot at him, I thought I was going to hit him but unfortunately we had a turnover.”
Rodgers then led the Packer offense on a 10 play, 97 yard drive which narrowed the Jets lead to 21 to 16.
“Give those guys credit, that’s a heck of a football team and they made some plays there (on that drive)” said Ryan.
The Jets offense failed to recover and regain the momentum that they had in the first half. Green Bay took their first lead of the game at the 5:45 mark of the 3rd quarter on one-yard Aaron Rogers’ touchdown pass to receiver Randall Cobb.
Green Bay then successfully attempted a two-point conversion to make the score 24 to 21 which is when things escalated. All-Pro defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was thrown out of the game after throwing a punch at Packers guard Josh Sitton.
Wilkerson than egged on the Lambeau Field faithful by smiling and waving his arms up and down.
After the game both Ryan and Wilkerson acknowledged that what happened was wrong and can’t happen again.
“First off nobody feels worse than Mo does.” said Ryan, “He’s apologized to the team about it. He feels bad that he let his team down. It’s an emotional game but having something like that, taking a swing is not acceptable and Mo would be the first one to say it.”
“I lost my cool and I let my emotions get the best of me.” said Wilkerson, “I can’t do that (throw a punch). I let my teammates down. We’re a family here, I let everybody down, I apologized to everybody in the locker room and my actions, I can’t do that.”
The Jets rebounded from relinquishing the lead and Wilkerson’s ejection to tie the game on a Nick Folk 52-yard field goal. The Packers quickly regained the lead on their first play of the next drive when Aaron Rodgers connected with wide receiver Jordy Nelson for an 80-yard touchdown pass.
On the play, cornerback Dee Milliner, was badly beaten and faked out by a Nelson double move. In total, Nelson accounted for nine catches and an astronomical 209 yards receiving.
The Packers clearly looked to take advantage of the Jets holes at secondary with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball 42 times, completing 25 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns, one to Nelson and two to Cobb.
Milliner, who is coming off an ankle injury was clearly not 100 percent healthy. It especially showed on the 80-yard touchdown pass to Nelson. After he was beat on the double move he had trouble chasing Nelson down the field and appeared to run with a slight limp.
Earlier in the game, Milliner looked sharp but he clearly wasn’t healthy enough for anything more than a limited role.
Either way, the Jets secondary struggled and Ryan says the team has to improve in that aspect.
“Clearly it (the secondary play) wasn’t good enough.” Ryan said, “(The play) wasn’t to our standards. Again it has to get better, our play has to get better and it starts with the 100 percent understanding with what’s called and how it’s played.”
Ryan specifically singled out the 80-yard touchdown pass to Nelson, “The double move should be doubled off a boot and it wasn’t. So again that’s obviously a mistake.”
While the secondary struggled today, Ryan said the secondary needs to improve because the schedule doesn’t get any easier.
“We got to get it (the secondary play) fixed because it doesn’t get any easier.”
The fourth quarter was relatively uneventful until the botched timeout call. Smith said that he did not understand why a timeout was called in that situation.
“I haven’t talked to Marty about that yet. It would be better for you to ask him about it but I don’t know why (the timeout was called) as of right now.”
Defensive end Sheldon Richardson claims that he was responsible for why the timeout was ultimately called.
“That’s all on me” said Richardson, “I saw Marty calling the timeout and I was into the game I knew it was clutch time, so I didn’t know if he wanted a timeout or not I just know he called it and I helped him out a little bit and I whispered in the referee’s ear “timeout” and he called it before the play was dead. Before the ball was thrown.”
Whoever, called the timeout, it was not the sole reason the Jets lost this game. The Jets converted on 4th and 4 but failed to convert on a subsequent fourth down and Green Bay was able to run out the clock and secure the win.
The point being is that one timeout call, although it was clearly a mistake and devastating to the team, did not decide the game. After jumping out to an 18-point lead, the Jets were outscored by a 28 to 3 margin.
The Jets look to rebound from this excruciating loss when they take on the Chicago Bears next Monday Night.
For now though, the Jets have a long flight back to New Jersey to think about all that went wrong this afternoon.
NEWS AND NOTES
Wide Receiver Eric Decker was forced to leave the game with a hamstring injury.
Ryan did not have an update on Decker’s condition saying, “No (I don’t have a further update) I just know he left with a tight hamstring.”