OAKLAND -- This time, there was no celebratory hot dog for Mark Sanchez. The Jets returned to the Black Hole for the first time since the quarterback’s hot-dog episode, which irked the Raiders, and they fell apart in the third quarter for a 34-24 loss.
What it means: The Jets lost their first non-divisional AFC road game under Rex Ryan (6-1) and fell one game behind the Bills -- yes, the Bills -- in the AFC East. The Jets dropped to 2-1.
Run DMC: The problem, we all figured, would be the offensive line, featuring first-time starter Colin Baxter (for injured All-Pro Nick Mangold). We were wrong. The defense, Ryan’s pride and joy, couldn’t stop a nosebleed. Darren McFadden rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns, the fourth 100-yard rusher in the Ryan era. The Raiders rushed for 234 yards, the most against the Jets in 41 games under Ryan.
Loss of poise: The Jets lost this game in the final two minutes of the third quarter with three brutal plays in a row -- a 27-yard run by McFadden (a keeper on a halfback option), a 23-yard TD run on a reverse by rookie Denarius Moore and a fumble by Antonio Cromartie on the ensuing kickoff return. That set up the go-ahead TD.
The collapse was a shocking loss of poise by the Jets, a veteran team that usually can handle crowd noise and momentum swings.
Air thud: The Raiders made the Jets’ passing game look horribly overrated. The wide receivers talked all week about how they were eager to face the Raiders’ man-to-man coverage. Well, guess what? They couldn’t get open, unable to gain much separation at all. And, remember, the Raiders don’t have star CB Nnamdi Asomugha anymore.
Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes combined for only two receptions through 3½ quarters, and that included a completion to Burress on the Jets’ first play. Sanchez’s passing was limited to underneath stuff to Derrick Mason and LaDainian Tomlinson, their best weapon out of the backfield. Tomlinson, a career Raiders killer, set up the first TD with a 74-yard catch and run and he scored on a 18-yard pass out of the backfield.
When Sanchez (369 yards, 2 TDs) had somebody open, he couldn’t get the ball to him. He seemed jittery in the pocket all day, throwing a horrible interception in the first quarter in Raiders territory. He perked up late, hitting Burress for a 16-yard TD, but it was too late.
Oh, no, Cro: The Raiders coveted CB Antonio Cromartie in free agency. After watching him up close, they’re probably glad he didn’t take their offer. He committed four penalties for 46 yards and he fumbled a kickoff return late in the third quarter that set up the Raiders’ go-ahead touchdown. To make it worse, he left the game with a rib injury. Cromartie, who last week said he’s a better playmaker than Asomugha, received a huge helping of humble pie.
Nick of time: Baxter held up reasonably well in his first NFL start. There weren’t any botched snaps or bad exchanges and the line had only one false start. At times, the Jets ran the ball better than they had all season. So, no, you can’t pin this on Baxter.
What’s next: The Jets’ three-game road swing continues next Sunday night in Baltimore, where Rex Ryan will face his former team for the second straight year -- but the first meeting in Baltimore.