Seahawks DB Josh Wilson celebrates after intercepting Jets QB Brett Favre and clinching a Seattle 13-3 win over NY.
Just one month ago, the Jets hammered the previously undefeated Titans 34-13 and appeared set to take off among the conference's elite teams. Quarterback Brett Favre resembled the youthful gunslinger that carried the Packers to greatness in Super Bowl XXXI and head coach Eric Mangini was once again "Mangenius." The Jets were bound for a return to the playoffs and only the Jets themselves appeared capable of stopping such from happening.
Oh how the mighty have fallen.
The Jets are now on the brink of a crash landing after today's 13-3 loss to the Seahawks sent the Jets spiraling out of first place in the AFC East and toward a late-season collapse.
"If we could play like we did against New England and Tennessee every week we would be hard to beat," Favre deadpanned following the defeat. "I don't have all the answers...Every guy in that locker room is disappointed."
Even Favre, who played some of his most memorable games while mastering the frigid conditions in Green Bay's Lambeau Field, could not save the Jets from the mess they found themselves in. A wintry mix of snow and freezing rain hovered over Seattle's Qwest Field and limited the future Hall of Famer to his worst afternoon as a Jet. Favre completed just 18 of 31 passes for 187 yards and two interceptions as the Jets were held without a touchdown for the first time since Dec. 16, 2007.
The Jets entered with a sense of urgency after losing their previous three West Coast trips, but even the 3-11 Seahawks sent the Jets scrambling for answers. Now with just a rematch with the Dolphins (10-5) and quarterback Chad Pennington at the Meadowlands on Sunday remaining, the Jets must beat Miami and hope the Bills (7-8) defeat the Patriots (10-5) if they hope to extend their season.
"There's no shoo-ins, there's nothing guaranteed. The only thing guaranteed is you have the opportunity to play good football each week," Mangini said. "That's what you have the opportunity to do. You have the opportunity to control your destiny, to play good football, to execute in all three phases and when you do that good things happen. When you don't, you leave things to chance."
The Jets never hoped to reach such a horrifying scenario, but a suddenly disappearing run defense and a share of costly interceptions sent them slumping toward the vistor's locker room as the clocked ticked zero.
"We're all extremely disappointed with the way it went today," Mangini said. "We had plenty of opportunities to do positive things and to continue drives and stop drives and we didn't do it well enough."
The Jets began the game looking like they were set to make their fourth trip to the West Coast the charm as they traveled 78 yards in 12 plays and faced a fourth-and-one at the Seattle two-yard line. Fullback Tony Richardson carried the ball three times for 28 yards on the drive and Favre completed five-of-six passes, but Mangini opted to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Jay Feely instead of trying for the touchdown.
The Jets defense held strong for much of the half as consecutive fumble recoveries by cornerbacks Dwight Lowery and Ty Law deep inside Jets' territory helped maintain the 3-0 lead, but Seattle slowly nibbled away. Quarterback Seneca Wallace connected on a two-yard touchdown pass with rookie tight end John Carlson to hand the Seahawks a 7-3 lead with 36 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The Jets never got any closer as Seattle added a 31-yard field goal by Olindo Mare with 2:46 left in the third quarter to take a 10-3 lead.
The Jets had a prime opportunity to put points on the board early in the fourth quarter, but Mangini made another questionable decision that left Feely shaking his head in disagreement. Trailing 10-3 with 13:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, Feely easily nailed a 45-yard field goal that was nullifed by a delay of game penalty. However, instead of attempting the kick, Mangini chose to pin the Seahawks deep with a punt. The decision ultimately backfired, as the Jets were unable to reach scoring position again.
Mare nailed a 38-yard field goal with 1:52 remaining to give Seattle a 13-3 lead and boot away the Jets' hopes. The Jets received the ball with no timeouts and after a 30-yard completion to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, Favre was intercepted by safety Josh Wilson.
Now the Jets no longer are in control. It was almost unimaginable one month ago, but now they are in a situation they don't want to be in.
"You leave things to chance and you put your situation in someone else's hands and that's a situation you never want to be in," Mangini said.
Stumbling Against the Run
In the season's first 11 weeks, the Jets had to look back to Dec. 23, 2007 to find the last running back to rush for over 100 yards against them. However, in three of the last four weeks, Peyton Hillis (129 yards), Marshawn Lynch (127 yards) and Maurice Morris (116 yards) have all hit in the century mark against the Gang Green defense. Entering today, the Jets had allowed an average of 90.9 rushing yards per game (sixth in NFL), while the Seahawks had averaged 111 yards (17th in NFL) on the ground in their previous 14 games.
Searching for Sacks
After rebounding with three sacks last week, the Jets' struggling pass rush left the speedy Wallace to bounce around in the pocket and pick apart the Jets defense. The Jets recorded zero sacks on the afternoon against a Seattle offensive line that was without guard Chris Gray (back) and left tackle Walter Jones (knee) due to injury. Entering today, the Seahawks had allowed 35 sacks (18th in NFL) on the season.
Favre Winless at Qwest
In Favre's 18-year career, Favre has won in an NFL-record 32 different stadiums. However, with today's loss, Favre dropped to 0-2 all-time at Seattle's Qwest Field.
Clowney Active Again, Gholston Returns
Wide receiver David Clowney was active for the second consecutive week. Clowney led the Jets with eight catches for 222 yards during the preseason but he injured his collarbone and was inactive for the first 14 weeks. Clowney had a one-handed 26-yard reception last week, which was his first catch of the season. Rookie linebacker Vernon Gholston returned to the lineup after being listed as inactive last week. In 13 games, the sixth-overall pick in the NFL Draft has just 12 tackles. Mangini explained that Gholston had one of his best weeks of practice in which he displayed "explosiveness" on pass-rushing situations.
For the Jets, cornerback David Barrett, cornerback Drew Coleman, safety James Ihedigbo, kicker Mike Nugent, quarterback Brett Ratliff, safety J.R. Reed, linebacker Cody Spencer and wide receiver Chansi Stuckey were inactive.
Most surprising of these scratches is Stuckey, who had played in the Jets' previous 14 games and had recorded 28 catches for 309 yards and three touchdowns. Stuckey slowly developed into Favre's favorite target during the season's opening weeks as he caught 14 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns but his production has tapered off since. He has recorded just 14 receptions over the last ten weeks.
For the Seahawks, safety Jamar Adams, safety Jordan Babineaux, defensive tackle Red Bryant, kicker Brandon Coutu, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, linebacker LeRoy Hill, linebacker D.D. Lewis and quarterback Jeff Rowe were inactive.
Hasselbeck has only played in seven games this season due to lingering back and knee injuries. Hasselbeck has completed a career-low 52.2 percent of his passes and has thrown five touchdown passes and ten interceptions.
Grading the Jets
The wintry mix created sloppy conditions and difficult footing, but the Jets offense looked like it was stuck in the mud all afternoon. Only three points and 265 yards against the 3-11 Seahawks is inexcusable. The Jets rarely moved the ball downfield and Favre looked every bit of his age. AFC rushing leader and team MVP Thomas Jones only gained 67 yards and Leon Washington was a non-factor in carrying the ball just three times for 14 yards.
The Jets' greatest strength earlier this season has turned into a sore spot. Maurice Morris gained 116 yards on 29 carries behind a makeshift offensive line. The Jets' pass rush was also non-existent as Wallace was left too much time to search for open targets.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
The Jets kick coverage was stout, but Washington was clearly slowed by the slick turf. Punter Reggie Hodges continued to struggle as he averaged just 34.5 yards on six punts. Feely continues to be a pleasant surprise and he should have been allowed to attempt the 50-yarder in the fourth quarter.