EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Jets became a national laughingstock, falling apart in every imaginable way -- and some unimaginable -- in an embarrassing 49-19 loss Thursday night to the Patriots at MetLife Stadium.
What it means: The Jets (4-7) blew a chance to save their season. A win over the Patriots (8-3) would've vaulted them back into distant playoff contention, but they imploded in all three phases. They allowed 35 points in the second quarter with a series of slapstick plays straight out of the Rich Kotite era -- including 21 points in a span of 52 seconds. All told, they committed a season-high five turnovers. This was the kind of performance that gets people fired.
Cream rises: A short week highlights a coaching staff's ability to rest its players, and get them mentally and physically prepared in a condensed period of time. The Jets weren't into the game, mentally or physically. There were blown assignments on both sides of the ball and they got smacked around by the Gronk-less Patriots, who played without four starters and still schooled their AFC East rival. The Jets played as if they were bloated after a big turkey dinner. This was their fourth loss by at least 21 points, their most lopsided defeat since 45-3 against the Patriots on Dec. 6, 2010.
Tebow Time?: Will Ryan replace Mark Sanchez with Tim Tebow for next week's game? Better question: Does it matter? If Ryan benches Sanchez -- the guess here is that he won't -- it'll be perceived in the locker room as a white flag.
Clearly, the Jets' problems extend beyond Sanchez (26-for-36, 301 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but he has to take his share of the blame. He wasted a scoring opportunity in the first quarter, throwing an interception from the Patriots' 23. The Patriots baited Sanchez with a zone-coverage trap, and he fell for it. He threw for WR Jeremy Kerley on an in-cut, never seeing S Steve Gregory. That's when things started going south for the Jets.
No Tebow: Tebow, who suffered a rib injury two weeks ago, didn't play at all -- not even on the punt team. The Jets downplayed the injury all week, but listed him as questionable on Wednesday. Why even dress him? Why didn't they dress the No. 3 QB, Greg McElroy?
Second quarter from hell: History probably won't remember that it was a scoreless game after one quarter. The Jets committed three turnovers in the second quarter -- an interception and fumble by Sanchez and a fumbled kickoff return by Joe McKnight. The fumbles were pure folly.
Because of a busted assignment by FB Lex Hilliard, Sanchez ate a handoff and slid for a 1-yard gain. On his slide, he crashed into RG Brandon Moore's rear end (seriously) and coughed it up. It was returned 32 yards for a TD by Gregory. McKnight fumbled the ball straight into the hands of Julian Edelman, who returned it 22 yards for a TD to make it 28-0.
Atrocious offense: The Jets were utterly clueless on offense. They tried to run the ball on the Patriots, who own the 30th-ranked pass defense. Coordinator Tony Sparano kept hammering away. They squandered two short-yardage situations, the latter at the goal line, stubbornly trying to run inside against mammoth NT Vince Wilfork. Clearly, Sparano has no faith in Sanchez. How 'bout another draw play, Tony?
Defense exposed: QB Tom Brady (18-for-28, 323 yards, 3 TDs) did a masterful job of exploiting the weak links in the Jets' pass defense. He victimized nickel back Ellis Lankster on a 3-yard TD pass to WR Wes Welker and he picked on slow-footed LB Bart Scott, who got torched on an 83-yard TD pass to RB Shane Vereen. Scott got "picked" by Welker on the play and couldn't close ground fast enough, allowing Vereen to turn a short pass into a score. S LaRon Landry also got beat on a 56-yard scoring pass to Edelman.
What's ahead: The benefit of playing Thursday night is a mini-bye week. The Jets have nine days off before facing the Cardinals (4-6), who host the Rams on Sunday.