EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – If one word could describe Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, it would be: sloppy.
There were bad snaps, missed field goals, slick fumbles, head-scratching penalties, rain and a whole lot of wind. The elements plus the events that transpired on the field proved to be the backbreaker for the New York Jets in Sunday’s 25-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and possibly their season.
JetsInsider.com Editor In Chief Chris Nimbley and Staff Writer Joe Barone recap the Jets 25-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, live from MetLife Stadium.
If the Jets wanted any hope to save their season and dream about the playoffs, a win had to occur. You can resume the tank. Though New York’s young players like Robby Anderson (six receptions, 104 yards, TD) continued to show development, when matched toe-to-toe with some of the league’s best teams, their warts will come to the forefront.
“We played hard, it’s disappointing not to win, not to close it out,” head coach Todd Bowles said after his team dropped their third straight game. “Too many mistakes in the fourth quarter. Can’t have those timely mistakes. Everyone has to play their brand of football.
“We just have to win. The effort is there. Everybody’s on the same page, for the most part. We can’t make key mistakes. We just have to win a ball game.”
After the game, Bowles ran off a grocery list of things his team needed to do better on Sunday and in the future to win more games. It’s woulda, coulda, shoulda. In reality, this team isn’t ready to win more games. They lack that fourth quarter gut punch. They’re missing the fire in their bellies to keep their foot on the gas. They don’t capitalize when an opportunity is presented in front of them. Because of those traits, the Jets season is spiraling downwards, losers of three consecutive.
“We’re 3-5,” Bowles said. “Frustrated, not discouraged… We have to stop taking body blows and start delivering them.”
Week after week, the Jets are taking more blows to the chest than they could handle. It’s a matter of one or two missed chances that separates a 3-5 team from a 5-3 or 6-2 record. On Sunday, you can point your finger to a Jeremy Kerley muffed punt. You can point your other finger at two missed field goals from Chandler Catanzaro. Regardless, the Jets dropped Sunday’s tilt because they beat themselves more than the Falcons beat them.
Like the previous three weeks, the Jets offense came storming out of the gate. An 8-play, 75-yard drive that took 4:27 off the clock resulted in a 20-yard touchdown reception for tight end Eric Tomlinson. The rain-soaked sparse crowd drowned out the noise Atlanta fans made prior to kickoff. However, like the previous three weeks, the positive vibes ended quickly. Despite a Matt Ryan fumbled snap, the Jets failed to capitalize as Catanzaro’s 46-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. Here they were again.
On cue, Ryan marched the Falcons downfield, connecting with tight end Austin Hooper three times, the last being a one yard touchdown reception.
After a 44-yard punt from Lachlan Edwards on a quiet New York drive, Ryan fumbled his second snap of the rainy afternoon setting up the Jets in plus territory once again. This time, however, the green and white cashed in, converting a 43-yard field goal to put them ahead 10-7 starting the second quarter.
Atlanta responded after the Jets put points on the board. A 12-play, 75-yard drive ended with a Matt Bryant 23-yard field goal to tie things at 10. However, the Falcons manufactured their points without incorporating wide receiver Julio Jones in the action. With Morris Claiborne lining up against him, Jones was held without any receptions, though being targeted three times. Claiborne left the game early with a foot injury and X-rays came back negative.
After back-to-back punts followed Atlanta’s scoring drive, McCown came back and connected with Bilal Powell and Anderson with less than five minutes remaining in the first half. The signal caller then found a streaking Anderson down the sideline for a 24-yard score, his third in as many weeks, to put the Jets ahead 17-10.
“It was just in man-to-man coverage, saw him out there,” McCown said about Anderson’s touchdown. “Because of his speed, they were bailing on him and was able to push the ball down there to him. Given these conditions, those guys made unbelievable catches.”
Atlanta drove downfield thanks to some help from a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty on Darryl Roberts and trimmed the deficit at the intermission to four points, 17-13.
New York failed the get anything off the ground in the second half, which has been the primary issue the last several weeks. Three punts, a missed 48-yard field goal and impactful penalties allowed the Falcons to storm back into the game and score 12 unanswered points to pull ahead, 22-17. Though Catanzaro drilled a 46-yard field goal to inch closer, a muffed punt from Kerley crippled the Jets chances of coming back in Sunday’s contest.
What did we learn?
- The tank is back on. Losers of three straight, the Jets now are 3-5 and still have to face Buffalo, Carolina, Kansas City, Denver, New Orleans and New England. It’ll be tough to win any of those games listed.
- Muhammad Wilkerson came to play again. Back-to-back weeks, Wilkerson was a factor on the defensive line, grabbing the unit’s first sack of the season, on Matt Ryan. Maybe he shouldn’t practice during the week at all.
- Josh McCown has been everything as advertised. He’ll do enough to compete but he won’t do enough to win. You can’t ask for much more than what McCown has given the Jets this season. He had another strong game, finishing 26-of-33 for 257 yards and two touchdowns.
- Chandler Catanzaro was broken in the locker room afterwards. He knows he left six points off the board on Sunday with two missed field goals. Since the Jets lost by five, he shouldered the blame.
- Do not try to make an over-the-shoulder catch on a punt in the rain. Jeremy Kerley knows better. He’s a veteran in the league. He has to let that ball bounce elsewhere. If the Jets don’t fumble, they have the ball with plenty of time remaining, down by two points.
- In general, the Jets had another fourth quarter lead taken away from them on Sunday. It’s part of the growing process. Leonard Williams said: “What’s really frustrating is that we put so much emphasis on finishing games. Even in our meetings, we say: ‘Let’s put together a complete game.’ We need to put together a complete game. We either start fast and don’t finish or start slow and try to finish last minute at the end.”
- This team will compete. They’re in every game. Even though they lost for the fifth time this season, it has been a one-possession ballgame the last five weeks.
Joe Barone is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28Joebarone) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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