FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Rex Ryan stepped to the podium and looked like a guy who hadn’t had much sleep.
It would be tough to blame the New York Jets coach, whose team had a chance to take control of the AFC East against its bitter rivals but instead came up with one big clunker.
“Today, I don’t even want to talk about the game,” said Ryan, his eyes appearing tired and his mood somber Monday.
There was still plenty to talk about, though, after the Jets were routed 37-16 by the New England Patriots on Sunday night. First place was there for the taking, and New York couldn’t take advantage. Now, the Jets (5-4) are a game behind the Patriots (6-3) in the division after being swept in the regular-season series.
“I still think it’s doubtful,” Ryan said of the possibility of winning the AFC East, reiterating his comments from Sunday night. “I look at New England as an excellent football team. They’re a game ahead of us, and they might as well be two games ahead of us.”
The Jets’ locker room was quiet, and the players who filtered in acknowledged that they blew a terrific opportunity.
“Our destiny now lies in New England’s hands,” guard Matt Slauson said. “But we feel very confident about the wild card, so we’ve just got to take care of business.”
They won’t have much time to dwell on their loss to the Patriots. The Jets have a short turnaround with a game at Denver against the unpredictable Tim Tebow on Thursday night, and some players thought that might be exactly what they need.
“There’s plenty of football left to play,” center Nick Mangold said, putting a positive spin on things. “We’re excited about the opportunity to get out there Thursday night and, you know, right the wrongs.”
There were plenty of those Sunday night, a surprise considering how well the Jets had been playing leading up to the game. They had won three in a row, got their offense in gear and the defense was looking dominant again.
It took four quarters against the Patriots to change all that.
“We can’t focus on what just happened,” Ryan said. “We know what happened. We made enough mistakes that you play against a good team, they’ve got no chance to beat them if you make the mistakes that we made.”
There was a muffed punt, a missed field goal and a handful of silly penalties. New York also blew some assignments and had the wrong personnel on the field in certain situations.
There was also an ill-advised timeout by Mark Sanchez that had an infuriated Ryan telling NBC that it was “the stupidest thing in football history.” Ryan was still smarting from that call, which resulted in Tom Brady marching the Patriots down the field before halftime to take the lead, and he yelled an obscenity to a fan who told him Bill Belichick was better than him.
“Sometimes,” Ryan said, “my emotions get the best of me.”
As they did on the sideline after Sanchez called the timeout, and Ryan ripped off his headset and was clearly animated as he spoke to his quarterback.
“I might have said a few things,” Ryan said, without going into specifics.
Still, Ryan took full responsibility for the timeout call, although the explanation for what happened was confusing.
“Yeah, OK, he physically called the timeout,” Ryan said, “but my communication wasn’t clear enough to Mark, so that’s why it was my mistake.”
Ryan said he was having a conversation about when to take a timeout with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh that Sanchez overheard in his helmet headset. Sanchez then called for a timeout, even though he had plenty of time to run a play.
“Brian was going to make the call,” Ryan said. “I said, ‘No, let’s take the clock down and use all the clock and then call a timeout.’ I think Matt Cavanaugh said, ‘What’s going on? Are we going to take a timeout?’ We said, ‘Yes.’ I think that’s what happened there. You’ll have to ask Mark, but I think that’s what he heard: ‘We are going to take a timeout.’”
Sanchez scored on a 2-yard run after the timeout, but Brady had 1:20 left on the clock to execute a scoring drive that shifted the momentum back in New England’s favor.
“I was basically saying that about myself,” Ryan said of his comments to NBC. “When I talked about the emotions that I was feeling (when he yelled at the fan), I was still feeling that, obviously. Because I know how difficult it is. You’re facing a great team, they don’t need any help and we just gave them a huge help.”
Ryan and the players acknowledged that they could put all of that behind them quickly if they can go to Denver and win.
“We’re still a playoff team,” cornerback Antonio Cromartie said. “We still have a chance at being in the playoffs. We have the guys and the coaching staff that can get us there. For us, we just have to go out every single week and just do what we’re supposed to do.”
Notes: Ryan had no update on the status of RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who left with a left knee injury in the fourth quarter. “I think he’s going to be OK,” Ryan said, “but I’m not real sure yet.” Tomlinson was scheduled to have an MRI exam Monday. … WR Patrick Turner said he’s fine and never felt pain even though he was removed from the game with a kidney problem. He urinated blood at halftime, but passed all tests Monday and hopes to play. … WR Jeremy Kerley was still limping after suffering a left knee injury. He said he probably wouldn’t practice Tuesday, but wouldn’t rule himself out for the game.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.