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Schwartz: If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

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(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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By Peter Schwartz
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Here’s a guarantee that I feel pretty good about.

The Jets will not be AFC East Champions. There will be no changing of the guard and the focus is now on just keeping the status quo. For the Jets to make the playoffs, they will have to go through their familiar route of getting a wild card spot.

Under normal circumstances, we could spend plenty of time breaking down Sunday night’s 37-16 loss to the Patriots, but there isn’t much time to do that. The Jets have a quick turnaround to play the Broncos Thursday night in Denver.

So after looking at the film of Sunday night’s disaster, the Jets will get right to work preparing for Tim Tebow and company. Given their lackluster performance on Sunday night, its probably best that they direct whatever energy that they have left towards Thursday.

Sunday night was a huge letdown for the Jets and their fans. After following a three-game losing streak with a three-game winning streak, the Jets were in a position to seize control of the division away from their arch-rivals who had lost two in a row.

Things were set up even better for the Jets when the Bills lost to the Cowboys yesterday afternoon, but they couldn’t take advantage of the moment. The offense sputtered throughout the night and the defense came up small at the worst possible time.

There’s no question that Mark Sanchez made a huge error when he called timeout too quickly and wound up leaving too much time on the clock at the end of the first half. After he scored on a 2-yard touchdown run, there was 1:20 left on the clock and Tom Brady engineered a drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski with :09 left before halftime.

Where was the defense?

It’s true that Joe McKnight’s muffed punt and a Sanchez tipped interception led to ten Patriots points in the third quarter, but where was the defense to pick up the other side of the ball?

With all of the mistakes that they made, the Jets trailed 23-16 in the fourth quarter. Just like in Foxboro, the defense needed to make a stop to give the offense a chance.

And they failed … again.

It was an abysmal performance and it cost the Jets dearly. They now fall a game back of the Pats in the AFC East but they are really two games back since the Patriots capped off a season sweep.

Could the Jets still win the division? It’s not likely. If the Jets won their remaining games to finish 12-4, the Patriots would have to lose two games. That’s not exactly a likely scenario. The interesting thing is that Rex Ryan said before the season that the Jets were going to need other teams to beat the Pats for Gang Green to have a chance of winning the division.

The truth is that they got the help from the Bills, Steelers, and Giants. The Jets just couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

And that means a shift in focus to a wild card spot. The focus begins in Denver. The upcoming schedule suggests that the Jets can win most if not all of their games.

It would probably help the Jets if they just forget about the Patriots and stop talking about how it’s their time to rule their AFC East. Because time and time again, the Jets prove that they are not in New England’s class.

JET LINERS

The Jets lost at home for the first time this season. They are now 4-1 and drop to 9-4 during regular season play at New Meadowlands/Met Life Stadium.

This is the first time that the Jets have been swept by the Patriots since 2007.

You knew it was going to be a tough night when Nick Folk missed 24-yard field goal on the first drive. It was just his second missed field goal of the season. The other was from 50 yards.

Ladainian Tomlinson moved into fifth place on the NFL’s all-time scrimmage yards list as he passed Barry Sanders. Ahead of Tomlinson are Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Marshall Faulk. Tomlinson also suffered a leg injury on the Jets last drive of the game and will undergo an MRI today.

The Jets celebrated their 12th annual Military Appreciation Day. The National Anthem was performed by the U.S. Coast Guard Choir while members from each branch of the military displayed an American flag on the field. At halftime, there was a performance from the West Point Band.

Before the game, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Jets Chairman/CEO Woody Johnson addressed health and safety issues facing young athletes. The object was to promote player health and safety and discuss the ways that the NFL is making sports safer for all athletes.

The Jets held their annual food drive to benefit the Interfaith Nutrition Network. Non-perishable food donations were collected from fans as they entered the gates for the game. Wise Snacks donated 1,000 bags of potato chips.

Suzanne Johnson, Woody Johnson’s wife, hosted fans at the NFL For Her Lounge that ran from pre-game until halftime. Products for women were on display and there was a meet and greet with the Jets Flight Crew.

THE WEEK AHEAD

It’s a short one.

The Jets will practice on Monday and Tuesday before flying to Denver for Thursday night’s game against the Broncos.

Ten days later, the Jets will face the Bills on Thanksgiving weekend, November 27th at MetLife Stadium. The NFL will announce flex-scheduling for that weekend today. Right now, the Sunday night game for Week 12 is the Steelers visiting the Chiefs. Word is that NBC wants to opt out of that game and a switch of the Bills/Jets game to Sunday night is possible.

That’s all for now. Check back on Thursday for a Jets/Broncos preview!

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