Well, it had to happen sometime. It happened to the once undefeated Steelers, when the Washington Football Team pulled a fast one and defeated Pittsburgh after opening with 11-straight wins. The Jets, winless through 13 games, saved face by shocking the highly favored Rams (-15.5), keeping them from clinching a playoff spot Sunday, beating the locals 23-20 at SoFi Stadium.
I’m not normally a betting man, and I probably would never bet a spread over 9.5, so I didn’t really care if Los Angeles covered. But, when you are favored by that much, people are pretty much assured the favored team is going to win. I would have even settled for a win in overtime, which could have been possible Sunday, more on that in a moment.
However, this is the NFL. Hollywood didn’t make the movie “Any Given Sunday” because they thought it was a good story. It reflects the very issue teams like Pittsburgh and L.A. lose games like they did in 2020. Sports, in general, all have the same aspect: Anyone can get got, at any time! Just look at Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson. How about the New England Patriots defeating the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI? The Houston Astros defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017. You get where I am going with this.
I have tried to find a different adjective other then the “E-word” that players, fans and other media types have used since game’s end. My word is “confounding!”
Four specific things made this game even more inexplicable to me than the other losses (see Miami): 1. Penalties. 2. Coaching decisions. 3. Defense. 4. Jared Goff. 5. Special Teams.
I cannot remember a game this season where offensive penalties purely destroyed the offensive flow of the game for the Rams. Austin Corbett’s fourth quarter holding call on Cam Akers’s 18-yard touchdown run was the end all be all in this game. It was a true momentum buster for L.A. But if that wasn’t salt in the wound, a poor illegal block by Tyler Higbee with 4:53 left in the game was certainly the tetanus shot near the wound when the team was most pained. Akers had just rushed 22-yards to New York’s 17-yard line, and the team down by three points. Kicker Matt Gay has been strong since his arrival, and he surely would have tied the game giving the team a great look at overtime.
What confounds me the most about this game is head coach Sean McVay’s play calling in the team’s last drive. Facing third and fourth down with four yards to go to get a first down (remember Akers has been running well), he decides to throw the ball deep twice and Goff misses on both.
I had to ask myself, “What are we doing here?” Even if Akers gets two or three yards on third down, that leaves a hundred plays to choose from with only a yard to gain.
Yes Sean, you have to do better and be better for your team. You say it all the time.
How many of you sat back looking for that defensive “splash play” to hand over the momentum to the offense, or even score themselves? I for one expected total dominance, sacks, interceptions, turnovers (there were none), and another three-to-10 point Jets production level. Instead we get a flat-footed defense who can’t get their “spikes in the ground,” according to John Johnson III after the game.
It seems like there were several large plays given up by the defense. In looking back, we are able to see three Jets receivers have 20+ yards on their largest gains of the day. A fourth receiver had an 18-yard gain. Then, there is big-footed, slow as molasses QB Sam Darnold who had two carries of nine and 12 yards. This was not the production we would come to expect from a defense that has had its way with teams most of the season.
Giving credit where credit is due, a special teams turnover and a Goff interception gave the Jets the ball at the Rams’ 27 and 22-yard line, respectively. All the Jets could muster were two field goals from those gifts. But, first drive touchdowns in the first quarter and after the half doomed the defense and the Rams.
When was the last time you saw Johnny Hekker have a kick blocked? It just doesn’t happen. Yes, last year one time, but before that he hadn’t had a kick blocked since 2014, and only three in his career. And what about Nsimba Webster? For a brief moment, I had plans to show Webster as a turning point with great kick returns of 19 and 34 yards, which gave the Rams a spark on their last two drives. The team scored a touchdown on the first drive, and we have already discussed the second. It was an up-and-down day for special teams.
Finally, Goff was not his typical self. How many times have we seen him come into a game firing on all cylinders. Not in this one! He was simply not the same quarterback at the start of the game. He only had 63 yards at the half and seemed handcuffed by the play calling. When your QB only averages 6.1 yards per throw, something is not going right, not by a long shot.
This Sunday is a different day. The Seattle Seahawks await the Rams, which now is playing in the biggest game of the season. It already was going to be a must-win for the team, np matter a win or loss to the Jets. But now for the division title, the Rams control their own destiny and must win in Weeks 16 and 17 to capture the crown.
Is there something to worry about at this point in the season? Yes. For some reason the team can’t seem to string together some wins, and that is never a good thing heading into the playoffs. Stay tuned!