Darrelle Revis had the game-changing interception, Jim Leonhard chased down Jason Witten to prevent a Cowboys touchdown, and even Bart Scott earned praise from Jets coach Rex Ryan.
But none of them got a game ball this week.
“We’re not giving a game ball to any defensive players, even though Bart Scott played tremendous,” Ryan said. “But when your defense is not consistent and we don’t play to our standards, no game balls.”
Ryan is making a point by giving out game balls on offense and special teams but not on defense -- the part of the game he loves best.
“There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement on the defensive side,” cornerback Antonio Cromartie said. “Just for us, we gave up too many yards.”
The Jets allowed Dallas quarterback Tony Romo to throw for 342 yards Sunday night. Witten exploited the weakness the Jets have traditionally had in guarding tight ends, with 110 yards on six receptions.
It didn’t help matters that across the field Rex Ryan’s brother, Rob, the Dallas defensive coordinator, was giving his offensive line a panic attack each time the ball was snapped. The Cowboys pretty much shut down the Jets' running game, forcing quarterback Mark Sanchez to throw the ball.
“The little that you have been hearing about (Dallas) is that they want to become more aggressive on defense and that’s the Ryans' playbook,” Leonhard said.
On the other side of the ball, Cromartie seemed to struggle next to Revis Island. After Dez Bryant scored on the first Dallas series of the game while being covered by Cromartie, the Jets switched Revis onto the young wide receiver.
Later, Cromartie and Miles Austin grabbed a jump ball in the end zone, but it was ultimately a touchdown.
“He’s frustrated obviously, he felt like he made a great play,” Leonhard said. “From my vantage point it looked like he did most of the work catching it, Miles did a great job of sticking his hands in there late and tying it up. And that's the rule, simultaneous catch goes to the offense.”
After the play, Cromartie was visibly frustrated on the sideline, and didn’t think he was having a very good game after an offseason when his name in free agency was eclipsed by Nnamdi Asomugha. But even Ryan said that Asomugha wouldn’t have been able to stop a player like Witten.
“In the beginning I thought I played pretty bad,” Cromartie said. "But going back and looking at the film and seeing how everything broke down I feel like I did a pretty good job.”
And if the whole cornerback thing doesn’t work out for Cromartie, he can always ask for more time at wide receiver, where he was put for one play against Dallas. When asked about moving to the offense, Cromartie laughed.
“I think I can be a great vertical threat,” he said.