Sometime it takes an opponent to beat oneself in order to get a victory. For the Jets they have to thank the Jacksonville Jaguars for being the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 28-23 win at the Meadowlands on Sunday. New York had almost no energy, no offensive thunder power, and their defense was once again a sieve, yet against the Jaguars, a great effort wasn't needed.
If only the Jets could play the Jaguars, or the AFC South every week.
While the Jets didn't commit a number of crucial turnovers, the Jaguars did that for them, they allowed the Jaguars to hang around the entire day, and never made the bone crushing play to knock the Jaguars out of the game. Perhaps it was the blatant fact that the Jets are beaten up physically, as a supporting reason behind the Jets sluggish effort, or perhaps it is the fact that this Jets team is not really as deep as many thought coming into the season.
Whatever it might be, the Jets looked like the walking wounded on Sunday. Ryan Fitzpatrick was unspectacular as he played the entire game with a protective glove on his injured left thumb. Chris Ivory was a non factor for third straight game, and the offensive line was again banged up. Nick Mangold (knee) spent part of the game on the bench, and Willie Colon was inactive. In addition the team had to rely on Ryan Quigley to kick field goals. In short, it was ugly.
The Jets jumped out to a 14-3 lead thanks to two straight long touchdown drives by New York that culminated in touchdowns by Eric Decker and Chris Ivory, but soon after that the Jets offense went into a proverbial funk and never really came out of it.
As a team, New York managed only 33 yards of total offense in the second quarter, and wound up punting five times in the second half as the Jaguars hung around and made an attempted comeback.
A big reason for the Jets failure to do anything substantial offensively was the ineptitude of Ivory, who had only 26 yards on 23 carries. While the Jaguars have a very underrated rush defense, they aren't this good. The fact that the Jets beat up offensive line, and a beat up Ivory played a pivotal role in preventing the Jets from establishing any mental edge during the middle part of this contest.
Meanwhile the Jets defense allowed Blake Bortales to look brilliant at times for Jacksonville. Just before the half, Bortles completed two huge passes, including a 30-yard touchdown to Allen Hurns to make it 14-10 Jets at the half.
In the third quarter, after an early Jets' three and out, Bortles hit Allen Robinson for 17 yards to the Jets 26 yard line for a first and ten. Three plays later the Jets caught a huge break when Bortles pass to Bryan Walters was called incomplete, even though it was obvious that the receiver had both feet in bounds. Instead of it being first and ten for the Jaguars, Jacksonville had to settle for three to cut the Jets lead to 14-13.
That turned out to be huge, because the Jets answered very quickly. Fitzpatrick hit a streaking Jeff Cumberland down the middle of the field for 44-yards to move the chains into Jacksonville territory. Fitzpatrick would then complete passes of 10 and 16 to Brandon Marshall and Ivory respectively to move the chains to the goal-line. Ivory would plunge in for six, handing the Jets a 21-13 lead.
However, it was the buffoonery of the Jaguars late in this game that helped the Jets the most. Jacksonville was in prime position to take the lead with the football at the Jets 10-yard line, but an offensive holding penalty pushed them back 10-yads. On the next play, Bortles was stripped of the football and Jets' defensive end, Calvin Pace fell on it to get the ball back to New York.
Later in the quarter, the Jaguars muffed a punt return that the Jets also recovered at the Jacksonville 25. Three plays later, Fitzpatrick found Brandon Marshall in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. It was lucky touchdown too, because it looked like Marshall trapped the football, as it was squirming around in his arms, yet the officials gave the wide-out the TD.
The Jets (5-3) are very fortunate to come away with a win against the Jaguars. They came into the game beaten up, and played like it as well. In addition, the emotion needs to be taken up a notch, as the Jets played slow the entire afternoon. The Jets need a much better performance next week if they want to have any shot at beating their old coach, Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills.