Rex Ryan defends Jets' play calling

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan got defensive with reporters on Monday after being repeatedly pelted with questions over his team's perceived "scared" play calling late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 29-26 overtime loss to the New England Patriots.

"Saying we played scared, I think that's somebody that probably never played the game in his life," Ryan responded. "I mean, that's a ridiculous comment, because that's certainly not the way we do. Everything we did was to play to win the game.

"If you lose, people can write any opinion they want ... but to say we were scared, that's not even close to being accurate."

After the Jets recovered a Devin McCourty fumble on the New England 18 with 2:01 remaining in regulation and the score tied at 23, they elected to insert Tim Tebow at quarterback instead of starter Mark Sanchez on first-and-10. A direct snap to Tebow resulted in just a 2-yard gain.

On second-and-8, the Jets got only a 1-yard run from Joe McKnight before Sanchez was sacked on third-and-7. Kicker Nick Folk drilled a 43-yard field goal with 1:37 left to give New York a 26-23 lead, but there was enough time on the clock for Tom Brady & Co. to tie the game as time expired -- and then win it in overtime.

"When you look at it, we had some success running the football in the previous series," Ryan said. "Joe McKnight had some big runs on them. ... We felt good about running the football, or we wouldn't have called (those plays), obviously.

"We knew we needed a first down. We were trying to get a first down. It wasn't like we were trying to burn their timeouts. We were trying to get a first down to win the game. To their credit, they made some plays."

Asked why he didn't allow Sanchez, who went 16-for-20 after halftime, to throw on first or second down, Ryan responded, "We always do what we think is in the best interest of our team to be successful, whether it's run or whether it's pass."

Ryan said that he has "faith" in Sanchez but also in the running game.

Nevertheless, his moves backfired.

On New England's final two drives, the Jets played conservative defense, rushing only three on many downs while playing a lot of zone coverage.

"In hindsight, when you lose a game, you can say, 'Well, I wish I would've called this or this.' That's always gonna be there," Ryan said. "But at the time, I felt good with what we called. But when you look back on it, sure, you can point out a million different things."

While Sanchez finished up 28-for-41 for 328 yards, one touchdown and one interception, Tebow was on the field for just five offensive plays -- one of which resulted in a penalty. Tebow finished with four carries for 12 yards.

"Again, right now, we're at 3-4 with the entire football team. Tebow. Everybody," Ryan said. "That's not good enough. We understand that. We gotta get better. And that's what we'll definitely work on. To say that teams aren't preparing for him, I think is wrong.

"Would I like to see him get things going and all that? Absolutely. But again ... we gotta look at everything we do, and find ways to get better."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.