Jets doomed by inability to cash in on turnovers vs. Saints
By GUERRY SMITH
Dec. 18, 2017
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Just call them the unopportunistic Jets.
New York forced three turnovers in quick succession against the Saints and scored a total of three points off of them on Sunday. The 31-19 loss — their seventh in nine games — officially eliminated them from the playoffs.
"When you get three turnovers, normally you win the game," Jets coach Todd Bowles said. "We fought, but we just didn't make enough plays."
The offense and third-year quarterback Bryce Petty, making his first start of the season in place of the injured Josh McCown, really came up empty when the defense gave them a boost.
When defensive lineman Leonard Williams returned Drew Brees' interception to the New Orleans 11 with 1:19 left in the first half, the Jets responded by gaining zero yards in three plays, settling for a 29-yard field goal that cut their deficit to 17-10.
When Jets defensive backs Jamal Adams and Buster Skrine forced fumbles from Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman on back-to-back drives in the second half, New York's offense went three-and-out the first time and picked up one first down on the next possession. Even the first down came on an unnecessary roughness penalty on Saints cornerback Ken Crawley.
New York's longest gain on any possession after the turnovers was a 6-yard run by Matt Forte.
"We couldn't have asked for a better opportunity," Petty said. "We just have to capitalize."
Petty improved a week after going 2 of 9 for 14 yards in relief of McCown during an ugly 23-0 loss to Denver. Still, he completed fewer than half of his passes, going 19 of 39 for 179 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
In a meeting of quarterbacks who wear No. 9, he came up short in his matchup with Saints quarterback Drew Brees despite having a 3-inch height advantage. New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan knocked down four of Petty's throws_three times on third down.
"I feel like I'm a little bit taller than their No. 9," Petty said. "It's just one of those things. The defensive linemen are good at reading that kind of stuff. It's just little things like moving your head right or left or arm angle, that kind of stuff. It comes with being in there."
Even his best possession __ a 12-play, 75-yard drive in the first half that ended in a 2-yard touchdown run by Bilal Powell __ was aided by back-to-back penalties on the Saints.
"He was high on some balls and low on some others," Bowles said of Petty, but added that he'll start again next week.
"The plays we needed to make to win the game, he didn't make them, but he'll get better."
New York was unable to overcome a slow start defensively. The Saints scored 17 points on their first three possessions, going ahead 17-7. After holding New Orleans without a point on its next seven series, the Jets still trailed 17-13.
New Orleans regained a double-digit lead on Mike Thomas' 4-yard touchdown catch with 7:39 left in the game and sealed the victory on Mark Ingram's 50-yard touchdown run with 1:33 to go.
Before that play, the Jets had held the Saints to 81 yards rushing on 27 attempts despite missing benched defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.
"It's very frustrating when you get off the field after a turnover and it feels like things should be different when you are in that position," cornerback Morris Claiborne said. "But coming out of the gate, we gave up two touchdowns on the first three drives. It's hard to beat those type of teams when you do that."