That they did not only serves to highlight the role luck played in the Sunday, not that anyone was willing to acknowledge as much. The Jets’ perception is that they closed out the , just as Coach Rex Ryan had been preaching, because they did not let Buffalo score.
In reality, the Jets did not stop Buffalo. Buffalo stopped Buffalo, with Johnson’s unfathomable drop at the Jets’ 25 with 31 seconds remaining the pivotal play on a series that exposed, if not confirmed, the Jets’ defensive shortcomings. A Buffalo team that the Jets had crushed just three weeks earlier — on the road, against an offense at full strength — dismantled their vaunted secondary.
“Was that our best effort? No, it wasn’t,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said, adding: “It’s getting to be December. We can’t be making these mistakes this late in the season like this.”
As the Jets understand, the what-if game works both ways. Had they stuffed Tim Tebow at any time during the on Nov. 17, questions about their ability to finish off opponents would have ceased. But they did not that night, nor did they fluster Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick or lock down his receivers on that final drive.
“That’s a trend that you can see that happens,” defensive tackle Sione Pouha said. “We’re well aware of that trend, that we’ve got to finish drives.”
When the Bills took possession at their 27 with 54 seconds remaining, the Jets fell into a prevent defense, a cover-5, that they have not had much reason to play during games. When they sought to protect their lead in Denver, the Jets guarded against the run. When they aimed to stop New England on Oct. 9, the Jets flooded the box with defensive backs, daring the Patriots to run, which they did.
As a unit, the Jets’ defense on Monday watched film of Buffalo’s drive, and linebacker Aaron Maybin said he felt “a sense of frustration.” The defensive coordinator Mike Pettine preached consistency, bemoaning several small mistakes that created bigger problems.
On Johnson’s route, a post pattern, the Jets were playing zone coverage. Revis said he should have played Johnson tighter, not letting him cut outside, then in, to find space to roam. Revis also said that Brodney Pool, the safety on his side of the field, should not have allowed Johnson to move inside on him.
On Sunday, Revis did not think Johnson, had he caught the ball, would have scored. After watching film, he changed his mind.
Pool said, “He did a good job of just getting open, but he didn’t do a good job catching the ball.”
On Fitzpatrick’s next pass, which sailed a few inches behind Johnson in the back of the end zone, Revis faulted Pool for drifting toward him, for not maintaining his coverage.
Maybin said, “If we’re going to really consider ourselves one of the best defenses in the N.F.L., we can’t have those inconsistencies.”
Ryan said that some of his defenses in years past could preserve leads by shutting out opponents. This group, he said, is not there yet, but he vowed it would be. If so, it must happen soon. The Jets have five games left, of which they must win at least four to have a chance of making the playoffs.
Another lapse like Sunday, and the Jets’ chances could disappear.
“I hope we continue to be lucky,” Ryan said after initially dismissing the suggestion. “We’ll take that. The old saying, you’d rather be lucky than good? I’d rather be both. And I think we are.”
Stevie Johnson’s , in which he mocked Plaxico Burress by pretending to shoot himself in the thigh, was panned among Jets who did not see it until after Sunday’s game. Rex Ryan called it ridiculous, and Darrelle Revis called Johnson “young and immature.” Sione Pouha seemed more bothered that Johnson fell to the ground after spreading his arms and pretending to fly, suggesting that it was a reference to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “The airplane thing was kind of a dagger,” Pouha said. Burress told “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio on Monday that Johnson left him a voicemail and texted him an apology. … Ryan said defensive lineman Mike DeVito would miss Sunday’s game at Washington after injuring the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. … Safety Emanuel Cook, who recovered Buffalo’s botched squib kick Sunday, was released for undisclosed reasons. Tracy Wilson will be promoted from the practice squad to replace him.