Jets defense had no answers when it mattered most
SEATTLE — It took quite a scrimmage game for the Jets defense to lose on Sunday.
Touted all year, ranked top five in the league in yardage and points going into a win-or-out game against the Seahawks and there was Kenneth Walker, bursting through a hole and running for 60 yards . It was a punch in the mouth, followed by an uppercut two plays later when tight end Colby Parkinson caught an uncontested ball in the end zone. And in an eventual 23-6 loss to the Seahawks that eliminated the Jets from the playoffs, the defense didn’t leave the mat until it was too late.
There was Walker, fighting for and getting an extra push on seemingly every carry. There was Seattle’s Tyler Mabry, brought up from the practice squad for that game, catching another easy touchdown as covering tight ends in the red zone proved too difficult for the Jets. There was, of all people, Geno Smith – left for dead by the Jets in 2017 – taking a flamethrower for a season that once looked so promising.
Smith, who could lead the Seahawks 8-8 to the playoffs, finished with 183 yards on 18 of 29 passes with two touchdowns.
Walker, for whom the Jets had no answer, had crossed the 100-yard mark at the nine-minute mark of the third quarter and finished with 133 yards.
For the first half, at least, the Seahawks made it easy, as if they were facing last year’s Jets, who finished last in the NFL in defense in yardage and points. Those Jets looked different, and for much of this season, they did. But at the end?
The defensive line lost the ball. Quinnen Williams barely touched the stat sheet. Quincy Williams’ most notable contribution was missing a tackle on Walker. Kwon Alexander was overplaying Smith when the pocket broke down early in the game, allowing him to return the ball to Deejay Dallas for 41 yards and set up Mabry’s touchdown. Bryce Huff, earlier on that same ride, jumped offside to negate a third save.
Sauce Gardner came in to play, with four pass breakups, and the second half was much better than the first as the defense opened the door for Mike White. But those silver linings will mean nothing to the Jets as they try to figure out how this season went so badly when it started so well.
The defense that made a name for itself by beating Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen earlier in the year couldn’t do enough against a cast of players whose biggest name, DK Metcalf, was silent the entire game. The group that led the Jets to a 7-4 start with a virtual lock on a playoff berth found itself partly responsible for the final, unceremonious collapse.