So, this is what full strength looks like for the Jets.
How’d you like the look, Jets fans?
You know, with your starting quarterback playing his second consecutive game for the first time this season and with your best defensive player back in the lineup for the first time since Week 1?
Was 33-0 Patriots what you were expecting Monday night at MetLife Stadium, a week removed from what looked like an inspiring, season-saving upset victory over the Cowboys?
That win over Dallas now looks like a mere interruption to what appears to be devolving into a season of ineptitude — a belch in the midst of a long dinner.
The Jets had not been as close to full strength as they were for Monday night’s game since the third quarter of the season opener, right before linebacker C.J. Mosley was knocked out of the game with a groin injury and quarterback Sam Darnold came down with mononucleosis.
“You have high expectations when you get your best players back,’’ defensive lineman Steve McLendon said.
“This isn’t something we expected to happen. We didn’t expect to lose like that,’’ linebacker Jordan Jenkins said.
Darnold, playing his second game since returning from his three-game forced hiatus, played more like Luke Falk, the third-stringer who played in his place and is no longer with the team, than the No. 3-overall pick in the 2018 draft.
A week removed from elevating everyone’s play around him against the Cowboys, Darnold threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. It was his worst game as a pro, possibly his worst at any level.
On the sideline after throwing the second of his four picks — to Patriots safety Duron Harmon in the second quarter — Darnold, mic’d up by ESPN for the game, was heard to mutter, “I’m seeing ghosts.’’
He finished 11 of 32 for 86 yards, the four interceptions and a 3.6 rating (no, that’s not a misprint).
How damning was this performance? The Jets, with Falk at quarterback, were more competitive against the Patriots in New England three weeks ago, losing 30-14.
Mosley, quarterback of the Jets defense, made zero impact Monday night, clearly still not fully recovered from his groin injury.
So much for being at full strength.
“It definitely hurts, because the first time we played the Patriots we didn’t have those key components, and we thought that the big reason why we lost that bad,’’ defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “Having those guys back, having a full roster and coming off a big win last week against the Cowboys, we thought we had some momentum going into this game.
“We were at home playing on the big stage, we were coming off a big win, we had Sam and C.J. back and at the end of the game there was nothing but Patriots fans in the stadium and we had no points on the board. It was bad.’’
Safety Jamal Adams, fuming after the game, used the word “embarrassing’’ more than once in his brief chat with reporters.
The Patriots make inferior teams pay for their mistakes. The Jets, forever inferior to their AFC East daddy, obliged so readily on this night that it had the feel of the infamous “buttfumble’’ game in 2012 — that 49-19 New England destruction of the Jets in front of a Thanksgiving night national TV audience.
The only things missing Monday night were Mark Sanchez’s head and Brandon Moore’s butt.
We’d count the ways the Patriots made the Jets pay for every mistake they made, but we don’t have enough time.
After the Jets won the coin toss and deferred, giving New England the ball first, the Patriots drove 78 yards on 16 plays in 8:47 to take a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard scoring run by Sony Michel — the first of his three rushing TDs. The drive looked like it could have gone all the way up I-95 to Foxborough without the Jets defense stopping it.
On the Jets’ second offensive play, Darnold threw an interception to Patriots safety Devin McCourty. Four plays later, the Patriots took a 10-0 lead on a 34-yard field goal by former Jets kicker Mike Nugent.
“I didn’t expect that at all,’’ Jets coach Adam Gase said. “That was brutal. We didn’t do anything right. We defer and they go nine minutes [and then] we throw a pick. Not really an ideal start. Nothing went right early and we couldn’t regroup. It was just one bad thing after the other. We couldn’t get out of our own way.’’
The Jaguars in Jacksonville are next for the Jets in six days. The Jags must be licking their collective chops.
“When you put out tape like that, you’re going to see it again,’’ Gase said. “You’re going to see it until you stop it.’’
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