BRONCOS 34 - JETS 17
By Douglas Bonjour
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
November 30th, 2008
"One thing we try to talk about all week long is not taking the gas that everybody tries to give us, 'oh the Jets are great, we're the best team to ever play this game,'" Leon Washington said.
Today the Jets didn't need anyone to make any declarations. They received their own wake-up call in an embarassing 34-17 defeat to the Broncos at the rain-drenched Meadowlands.
Rather than appear like a team that was ready to make the jump to AFC supremacy, the Jets looked only like pretenders.
"We had strung together some big wins. I think this team is feeling good about ourselves, as we should, or should have. I think it's a wake-up call," Brett Favre said.
The Broncos were the ones who delivered that ringing blow to the Jets. They had heard their doubters throughout the week and they allowed their peformance to speak for itself today.
"Ninety percent of the guys and coaches said what they are supposed to say about the Jets, but there were some things that rubbed us the wrong way," wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. We heard that when we got here that we should just stay on the plane."
Running back Peyton Hillis, who threaded the Jets' third-ranked run defense for 129 yards held similar sentiments.
"The team was really motivated today. Especially with all the commentators saying we shouldn't even get off the plane. That kind of fired up me and the team," Hillis said.
These Jets were supposed to be different than those Jets teams of the past, the ones that waited for 'the other shoe to drop.' But for one afternoon, they were the same old Jets.
"I'm really disappointed with the way that we played today," head coach Eric Mangini said. "We've established a certain way to play football around here, we've established a certain identity and it was nothing close to that today."
After the defeat, there were no man-hugs nor smiles in the Jets' locker room. The only compliments were directed toward the Broncos and quarterback Jay Cutler, who threaded the Jets' secondary for 357 yards passing and two touchdowns.
"I thought he played well. I thought he played outstanding. He made a lot of throws," Favre said of Cutler. "I told him after the game he played outstanding, and if you play like that it's hard to be beat. He was the better man tonight."
Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan provided his own opinions on Cutler's big day.
"Jay played very well under some tough conditions," Shanahan said. "There's nothing that seems to bother him. We know he had to protect the football and not make the mistakes that will lose you a football game. He led the football team very well."
The Jets had only themselves to blame today, as two key turnovers led to 14 points for the Broncos. The first mistake came early for the Jets, when wide receiver Brad Smith lined up in the 'wildcat' formation and pitched the ball to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. The ball bounced out of Cotchery's arms, and Broncos safety Vernon Fox picked up the fumble and scampered 23 yards for a touchdown.
After Thomas Jones responded with a career-long 59-yard touchdown run to knot the score 7-7, the Broncos responded with another long touchdown to give themselves the lead. Jay Cutler hit rookie wide receiver Eddie Royal for a 59-yard touchdown pass as he tiptoed along the sidelines and into the endzone. The Jets challenged the touchdown, believing that Royal had stepped out of bounds, but the play was upheld.
Jones burned the Broncos with a 29-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter to cut Denver's lead to 17-14, but that was as close as the Jets would get. Matt Prater booted a 25-yard field goal and Hillis added a one-yard touchdown run to extend the Denver lead to 27-14 at halftime.
After getting threaded on defense, the Jets have next week to look forward to. But will this loss serve as motivation?
"I'm not really looking for a motivator or a silver lining here," Mangini said. "I'm looking for good football. I'm looking for consistency and that's what the group, collectively, should all be looking for."
Jones Puts Loss in Perspective
With Jones' 59-yard touchdown run, he recorded his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. The run marked the longest of his career. Following the defeat, Jones explained that the Jets obviously can learn from today.
"You don't want to feel like this again. It's a tough feeling to lose like this at home. We didn't take advantage of a lot of situations. We didn't take advantage of our red zone opportunities, we didn't take advantage of our turnover, and we put the ball on the ground a couple times," Jones said.
Rhodes Knows Where the Focus Lies
After two great wins, today's loss put the season in perspective for the Jets. While talk of a Giants-Jets Super Bowl surely is exciting, Jets safety Kerry Rhodes explained the Jets are only focused on right now.
"If people in this locker room are worried about the talk it's not good for us anyway. We still have a long season. (We have) four games left to right the ship from this game," Rhodes said. "We just have to move on from here."
Practice Makes Perfect
One theme that was discussed in the Jets' locker room was last week's practice. Mangini explained that the practice "could have been better" while Rhodes responded "I guess you could say that" when he was asked if the Jets' practice wasn't as crisp this week.
Grading the Jets
Entering today's game, the Denver defense was anything but a brickwall. The Broncos allowed 31 points to the lowly Raiders last week and were without Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey. While the Jets managed 383 total yards on offense, they only turned those into 17 points. Favre (23-of-43, 247 yards, one interception) had trouble connecting with his receivers all day. The botched reverse gave the Broncos the early lead and a boatload of confidence. The lone brightspot was Jones (16 carries, 138 yards), who rushed for two touchdowns.
The Jets' passing defense continues to be a weakness. Cutler continued his solid play by throwing for 357 yards. The Broncos' offensive line lived up to its strengths, as the Jets rarely even knocked down Cutler. Missed tackles bit the Jets in the foot, especially on Royal's 59-yard touchdown catch and Brandon Stokley's 36-yard scamper into the endzone. Ty Law was invisible throughout the afternoon.
Jay Feely connected on his lone field goal attempt (30 yards) while replacing Nugent. Reggie Hodges averaged a respectable 41 yards on his four punts. The Jets kick coverage was stout, as Royal was limited to only ten yards per return.