Rex Ryan started to speak, then stopped himself.
For a coach with so much pride and so much passion, there was no logical explanation for his players' performance. Ten seconds of dead air filled the small news conference room at MetLife Stadium before he pardoned himself and his profanity.
Latest Jets stories
"We got our asses kicked," he said bluntly.
For a guy with such an affinity for hyperbole, Ryan's curt assessment of Sunday's 34-0 beatdown by the 49ers couldn't have been more eloquent. It was the perfect summation for a miserable effort by a team that inexplicably is defiant in the face of criticism.
"Here's the recipe: 2-for-13 on third down -- that's 15 percent -- four turnovers, a blocked punt when they rushed one guy, and giving up 245 yards rushing,'' Ryan said. "How's that for a recipe?''
It was the third-worst shutout loss at home in franchise history, behind 43-0 to Miami in 1975 and 37-0 to the Bills in 1989. And the 245 rushing yards were the most the Jets (2-2) have allowed under Ryan.
But the blowout wasn't the worst loss of the day. The sight of Santonio Holmes being helped off the field -- unable to put any pressure on his bent left leg -- was a blow the Jets can ill afford. In a week they've lost their best player, cornerback Darrelle Revis, to a torn ACL and now their best offensive weapon to a foot injury.
After catching a 4-yard pass from Mark Sanchez (13-for-29, 103 yards, three sacks), Holmes fell untouched and tossed the ball forward -- into the hands of cornerback Carlos Rogers. He ran 51 yards for a touchdown that made it 24-0 with 14:46 left.
Though it first was announced as a knee injury, the team later clarified that Holmes hurt his left foot. According to multiple outlets, an X-ray revealed no fractures. But the Jets, who began the day without tight end Dustin Keller and rookie wideout Stephen Hill, now must wait on the results of an MRI scheduled for Monday.
In the meantime, they'll have ample opportunities for some much-needed soul-searching, said Ryan, who gave his players Monday off in addition to Tuesday's mandatory rest day. Several said, however, that they plan to go to the facility Monday to study tape. "We're going to have to eat this one," safety Yeremiah Bell said.
Ryan challenged himself and his coaching staff to do a better job. For weeks they've preached the importance of football fundamentals, especially tackling. But again the Jets came up short.
"They dictated the tempo of the game to us, they ran the football, they controlled the clock," linebacker Aaron Maybin said. "We didn't do anything to stop it. As a defense, that's pretty embarrassing."
For several minutes, safety LaRon Landry sat in front of his locker, still wearing his pads. "I wish I could start over," he said.
Landry said defense is a "mind-set,'' that guys must "want to hit and make plays.'' He said the key is how the Jets will respond this week. "We could put our tail between our legs and curl up,'' he said. "But we've got to hold each other accountable. And the guys who want to roll, they're going to be out there. And the guys who don't -- the coaches will handle that."
Back-to-back sacks of Alex Smith by Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace were the lone bright spot for a defense that had no answer for a team that averaged 5.5 yards a carry, and a Wildcat starring Colin Kaepernick (five carries, 50 yards, one TD).
Sanchez's passer rating was a dismal 39.9, and questions about his decision-making and issues with ball security filtered into the news conference.
"I'm not ready to make a quarterback change," the visibly irate Ryan said, adding that much of Sanchez's struggles are related to "the kind of duress he's under.''
But knowingly or not, Ryan left the issue door open.
"I think Mark is the answer," he said. "Again, time will tell."
Sanchez's teammates defended him.
"Mark didn't lose that football game," guard Brandon Moore said. "There were 11 guys out there that didn't play well. Quarterbacks take a lot of undue hits and sometimes they take a lot of the praise. It's a world he lives in. It's a world a lot of quarterbacks around this league live in."