FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Rex Ryan saw mistakes on the film, lost opportunities that still frustrated the New York Jets coach 24 hours later.
There were also some positives, and Ryan made sure to share those, too.
What he didn't see was a team that played too conservatively in key spots in a 29-26 overtime loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday. And to anyone who thinks they were, Ryan's got something to say.
"Saying we played scared is somebody who has probably never played the game in his life," a testy Ryan insisted Monday. "I mean, that's a ridiculous comment, because that's certainly not the way we do things. Everything we do is to play to win the game."
There were moments, however, where some fans and media might beg to differ.
The Jets had third-and-2 at the Patriots 3-yard line, trailing 16-10 early in the third quarter. It appeared to be a perfect opportunity to run the ball, a ready-made situation for Shonn Greene or to bring in do-it-all backup quarterback Tim Tebow. Instead, New York lined up in the shotgun and Mark Sanchez threw a quick slant to Chaz Schilens that fell incomplete. The Jets settled for a field goal.
"That's exactly what I'm talking about," Ryan said. "You get one perspective here and one perspective there. If one's effective, we're having a completely different conversation. If it doesn't work, we can question everything and I understand that. That's part of the beauty of being a football fan. Obviously, I wish the result was different, but it wasn't."
With the game tied at 23 with 2:01 left in regulation, the Jets had just recovered a fumble on a kickoff and had the ball on the Patriots 18. Rather than be aggressive, New York had a somewhat head-scratching sequence:
— First-and-10: Tebow takes a direct snap up the middle and gains 2 yards.
— Second-and-8: Joe McKnight gains a yard off right guard.
Ryan got defensive when he was asked why the perception is that the coaching staff might not have faith in Sanchez, who was 16 of 20 after halftime, to make a big play in that situation.
"We always do what we think is in the best interest of our team to be successful," Ryan said, "whether it's run or whether it's pass."
— Third-and-7: Sanchez takes a sack that loses 10 yards.
So, Nick Folk kicked a 43-yard field goal that gave the Jets a 26-23 lead — but they also left Tom Brady plenty of time to march the Patriots down the field for a tying 43-yarder by Stephen Gostkowski as time expired.
"When you look at it, we had some success running the ball in the previous series and really, we had Joe McKnight who had some big runs on them and we felt good about running the football or else we wouldn't have called it," Ryan said. "We knew we needed 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 and, you know, to their credit, they made some plays."
Including the final one of the game when Rob Ninkovich recovered a fumble by Sanchez, who was trying to lead the Jets to at least a tying field goal. Instead, the Jets walked off the field frustrated and knowing they had let one slip through their fingers.
And, in at least one case, literally.
Rookie Stephen Hill dropped a third-and-4 pass from the Patriots 25 that would have been a first down — if not a touchdown. Folk ended up kicking a 43-yarder that tied it at 23, but the Jets could have potentially taken the lead if Hill had been able to hold on.
"In hindsight, when you lose a game, you can say, 'Well, I wish I would've called this or this,'" Ryan said. "That's always going to be there, but at the time, I felt good with what we called. When you look back at it, sure, you can point to a million different things now."
There was also the botched handoff in the second quarter when Sanchez kicked the ball out of bounds, putting New England up 16-7.
The defense also appeared to play conservatively late, putting little heat on Brady as he got the Patriots in scoring position for the tying and winning field goals.
The special teams unit wasn't without a major miscue, either. After New York swung the early momentum in its favor with an efficient 11-play touchdown drive on its second possession, New England struck back seconds later on Devin McCourty's 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"We're not in the business of moral victories," left guard Matt Slauson said. "We have to get real ones."
Then, there's always the Tebow factor — or non-factor. Despite constantly saying how much of a part of the offense he will be, the Jets have not used him nearly enough to satisfy the fans or critics. Tebow was in on five offensive plays and finished with 12 yards on four carries — hardly making an impact.
"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've got to get better. We'll definitely work. 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 have to look at everything we do and find ways to get better."
Ryan pointed out that the offense rolled up 403 yards on the Patriots, and ran for 106 — and knows that with one more big play, the talk would be very different right now. Instead, the Jets are preparing for another division showdown with Miami, a team New York has never swept in Ryan's three-plus seasons.
"It's very important," Greene said. "We win this game and we'll be right back where we were before this past game. That's how messed up our division is. We could still be sitting pretty."
NOTES: McKnight went past the locker room and to the showers on crutches with his left foot heavily wrapped. He sprained his ankle last week against Indianapolis, but still played against New England. Ryan had no word on his availability for the game against the Dolphins. ... TE Jeff Cumberland said an MRI exam confirmed that he has a dislocated right hand, but thinks he'll be able to return after the bye week break in two weeks. ... Ryan was impressed by Sanchez, who was 28 of 41 for 328 yards, a TD and an INT. "Most of the game, he was outstanding," Ryan said.
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