Second-half letdown upsets defense, Ryan

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Rex Ryan works on the sidelines during the

Rex Ryan works on the sidelines during the Jets' season opener against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Sept. 9, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty

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Kimberley A. Martin Newsday sports reporter Kimberley A. Martin

Since joining Newsday in November 2007, Kimberley A. Martin has covered everything from local news to high school

Amid all the talk of the offensive explosion at Buffalo's expense, Rex Ryan's defense sat in the locker room Sunday lamenting its missed opportunities.

The unit came into the preseason garnering most of the headlines for its improved speed and superior talent. But while the Jets' offense exhibited nearly flawless production in a 48-28 romp in the season opener, the play of the defense dropped off as the game wore on.

Nine of the 10 longest plays given up by the Jets Sunday came after they built a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Five of them were 21 yards or longer -- including a 56-yard touchdown run and a 49-yard gain by running back C.J. Spiller.

Against a potentially over-hyped Buffalo team, the Jets got away with it. But Ryan knows his defense can't let up this week in Pittsburgh.

"The tackling was poor to say the least late in the second half," Ryan said Monday. "Sometimes when you get up like that, you can't have any kind of lapse. I kind of felt that we did."

Make no mistake, tackling will be a "point of emphasis" this week in practice, several players said. There are, of course, challenges to doing so. Aside from a few training camp fights, Ryan's players aren't looking to tackle one another to the ground.

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"But you have to do drills, you have to emphasize it," said the coach, adding that he will put his players through a tackling circuit among other drills.

At its essence, tackling is all about focus, Demario Davis said. The rookie linebacker said it's not uncommon for players "to take things for granted" in practice and "tag off" on a tackle, rather than bending their knees and getting in a "football-playing position."

"When you put yourself in a bad position in practice, it kind of shows up on the field," Davis said. " . . . Coaches are always harping on that, that you have to finish the play in practice and simulate the game."

Of the 195 rushing yards the Jets allowed in Week 1, 113 came during the second half. At halftime, Spiller had 59 rushing yards -- 56 on his touchdown run -- and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had thrown for only 80. With help from the Jets' defense, however, they finished with 169 and 195 yards, respectively.

"The second half was pretty trashy," Jets linebacker Calvin Pace said with a laugh after the game, referring to the 21 points the Jets allowed after going up 41-7.

In order to improve the run defense, Ryan said his players have to get off their blocks, swarm the ball and keep their feet on the ground when tackling -- things they failed to do against Spiller, who shouldered the load for the Bills after safety LaRon Landry put Fred Jackson out of the game with a knee injury.

"That was not Jets defense," defensive lineman Mike DeVito said Tuesday on WFAN, adding that Ryan got on his players for taking their feet off the gas pedal. "We had [Spiller] stopped and we let him get out. We can't have that. Our defense has to be the rock."

Will Darrelle Revis be able to face the Steelers?

It’s too early to tell the cornerback’s status as he recovers from a mild concussion.

Linebacker Aaron Maybin offered the “next man up” slogan, expressing confidence in the rest of the defense. But he also admitted: “You can’t lose a player like Darrelle and say that you’re not going to see a dropoff in production. He’s the best cornerback in the league.”

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Are the Jets seeking revenge against the Steelers?

You betcha.

Rex Ryan may insist their Week 2 matchup is just another game, but we all know better. The last time the Jets visited Heinz Field was Jan. 23, 2011, when the Steelers ended up celebrating a 24-19 AFC Championship Game win.

The Jets won the past two regular-season meetings, in 2007 and 2010.

Who will claim Patrick Turner’s final roster spot?

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In a surprising move, the Jets announced yesterday that the wide receiver had been waived. General manager Mike Tannenbaum is always looking to improve his roster, but truth be told, Turner could end up back on the Jets by the weekend. Defensive back LeQuan Lewis also was released from the practice squad, and linebacker Ricky Sapp was added to it.

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