The New York Jets have made a habit of eating crushing losses on holidays over the past two seasons. Last year in a pivotal game for both teams, the Jets shot themselves in the foot on the way to a listless performance and a loss to the New York Giants on Christmas Eve. The Jets quickly followed that up with a season-ending loss against the Miami Dolphins on New Year's Day. Last night, in front of the nation as the primetime Thanksgiving game, the Jets were mauled by the New England Patriots 49-19.
When the New York Jets came away with a 27-13 win over the St. Louis Rams, they gave their fan base an opportunity to eye up an improbable run to the playoffs. A win against the New England Patriots, who the Jets lost to 29-26 in overtime earlier this season, coupled with some other teams losing on Sunday would leave the Jets right in the thick of the Wild Card chase. Many fans had faint hope in a wild run going into the game against the Rams and that win kept that hope alive.
That hope remained as the Jets played an even first quarter last night with the Patriots. The teams entered the second quarter scoreless, with both offenses putting together drives that ventured deep into their opponent's territory but came away empty after the teams traded three-and-outs on their respective opening possessions. A Stephen Gostkowski miss kept New England off the board, while a Mark Sanchez interception killed a promising Jets drive.
Even when the Patriots scored on the first play of the second quarter, a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Wes Welker on third and goal from the three yard line, the Jets offense put together what looked like an answer drive. Eight plays into the drive the Jets faced a fourth down and one on the New England 31 yard line. Shonn Greene was stuffed on the play, tried to stretch the ball out and lost it, with the Patriots recovering on their own 17 yard line. Truthfully, the fumble helped the Jets in terms of field position.
Then Tom Brady hit Shane Vereen on an 83-yard touchdown pass to go up 14-0.
On the second play of the next Jets drive Mark Sanchez forgot the play, turned the wrong way and tried to gain some yards by rushing the ball himself. He half-slid into Brandon Moore's backside and fumbled, which Steve Gregory returned 32 yards for a 21-0 Patriots lead.
And just like that the Patriots had scored three times in 52 seconds, turning a competitive game into a laugher. They scored against shortly thereafter, putting up five touchdowns in the second quarter despite possessing the football for just over two minutes.
The final score of 49-19 wasn't indicative of just how massive a disaster the game was for Rex Ryan and the Jets. There were multiple plays that could serve as a microcosm for the 2012 Jets regular season, but the combination of blunders that resulted in 21 Patriots points in 52 seconds probably serves best: lack of speed exposed on defense, an embarrassing turnover for Mark Sanchez resulting in a touchdown and a special teams turnover resulting in another. All three phases of the game contributing to a complete meltdown.
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