MORNING AFTER REPORT: On the one hand…

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. — With a blue chip road victory in their sights after scoring 13 unanswered fourth quarter points against the New England Patriots, the Jets lost sight of who they were as they let the win — and the division lead — slip away in overtime.

The result was something similar to witnessing someone gasping for air after getting sucker-punched in the gut.

On the one hand … the Jets looked be the better team on the day — putting together four drives of 10+ plays while the defense forced punts on six of the Patriots’ 10 drives. Jeremy Kerley and Dustin Keller proved to be an effective and reliable tandem for Mark Sanchez — who, after three games, has a career QB rating 104.8 in Foxborough. The defense kept Tom Brady and his plethora of weapons in check — for the most part.

On the other hand … the Jets looked to be the team that everyone thought they were — inconsistent, costly miscues on both sides of the ball, the inability to stop teams on third down and lacking the tenacity to go for the jugular when victory is in sight. Sanchez, while effective, had two costly miscues — his interception on a vastly underthrown ball to Stephen Hill and his inability to tuck the ball in overtime that caused the game-ending fumble. The coaching staff failed to show any gusto when it mattered, looking scared — or worse, confused on how to use their personnel.  And, late in the game, the Jets defense couldn’t stop Brady and the Patriots when it mattered most — as he easily worked his way down the field with under two minutes left in regulation.

Look at it this way: The Jets had more total yards, higher time of possession, more passing yards, more completions, a higher yards per completion average, less punts and the same amount of first downs and third down efficiency rating.

And still lost. Simply gut-wrenching.

While the Jets did enough things to leave with a victory, it’s what the didn’t — or couldn’t — do that forced them to leave instead with a loss.

PASSING OFFENSE: B-

  • In his past three games at NE (including postseason), Sanchez has passed for 688 yards with 6 TDs, 1 INT and a 104.8 rating. He completed six passes for 20 or more yards — three of which went to Kerley.

First Quarter:                 Sanchez to Jeremy Kerley                            24 yds

First Quarter:                 Sanchez to Jeremy Kerley                            26 yds

Second Quarter:           Sanchez to Jeremy Kerley                            22 yds

Third Quarter:               Sanchez to Dustin Keller                               23 yds

Fourth Quarter:            Sanchez to Stephen Hill                                 21 yds

Fourth Quarter:            Sanchez to Dustin Keller                               21 yds

  • Kerley and Keller were a complimentary one-two punch combination for Sanchez against the Patriots. Chaz Schilens, however, was not complimentary to anyone. Targeted a handful of times, he ended the game with zero receptions.
  • The offensive line allowed four sacks and gave up a costly safety courtesy of Vince Wilfork.

Is it time to start questioning the play-calling abilities of Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

RUSHING OFFENSE: C

  • An average grade for an average performance on the ground. The net rushing totals barely eclipsed the 100-yard mark, despite Shonn Greene getting his fourth touchdown in two games. Credit Greene’s hard-nosed running style and his tenacity in the game. No play signified Greene’s toughness more than a colossal collision between himself and Brandon Spikes — who both left the field for a short time before returning.
  • The level of play that we’ve seen from Matt Slauson continues to drop. It was his inability to block Wilfork that allowed for the safety to occur.
  • Tim Tebow at running back. What a success that turned out to be. I’m convinced this coaching staff has no idea how to utilize him in the right way, but that will be addressed in the coaching section.

PASSING DEFENSE: D

  • The secondary played well … just not when it mattered the most. With  :32 remaining, the defense allowed Brady to go 54 yards down the field and set-up the game-tying field goal. He was able to pick up big chunks (completions of 12, 15 and 20 yards) and able to do so quickly.
  • Antonio Cromartie played a solid game, but came up short on what would have been two game-changing interceptions. He’s been able to be a difference maker the last few weeks, but it may be a lot to ask for him to keep up on a weekly basis.
  • LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell got burnt regularly by the Patriots duel-headed tight end monster. ‘Nuff said.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C+

  • Yes, they did give up 131 yards on the ground at 4.1 yards per clip, but allowed only six plays that gained 8+ yards — keeping the Patriots running backs out of the second level and open space.
  • Credit Demario Davis for some of that run stopping ability, posting six tackles as he continues to see his role expand on defense — particularly in nickel packages.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D

  • The return by Devin McCourty was the second-longest in Patriots history with his 104-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The longest came on 9/8/07 against the Jets when Ellis Hobbs returned a kick 108 yards. Mike Westhoff wasn’t happy then, and I’m sure he wasn’t happy after last night — where it was a clear miscue by Davis failing to stay in his lane on the coverage unit.
  • Nick Folk was good on all four field goals last night, bringing his season total up a perfect 11-for-11.
  • Two big penalties by Nick Bellore and Antonio Allen really hurt the positional battle against the Patriots, which proved to be a difference maker in a close contest.
  • Lex Hilliard continues to be a gritty, effective player for Rex Ryan. His blocking ability on offense and his strip on McCourty late in the game proved that.

COACHING: F

  • F is not paying homage to the amount of F-bombs that was coming out of Ryan’s mouth last night. Too many questionable calls to warrant a higher grade from the staff. Him and Tony Sparano were supposed to be one-in-the-same as far as philosophies. But as offensive play-calling goes they both seem to be very inconsistent at recognizing how to utilize their personnel.
  • Third & one from the three-yard line: Sparano elected to go empty backfield, shotgun formation. That is, with a quarterback who’s struggled throwing the ball and having (arguably) the best two short yardage runners in the league (Tebow and Greene) on the sideline.
  • Second & ten from their own 40-yard line in overtime: Ryan and Sparano elected to pass in what was known by everyone as four-down territory. Sanchez dropped back to pass and was strip-sacked by Rob Ninkovich ending the game. With plenty of time and an extra two downs to gain 10 yards, why feel the need to pass?

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