Jets' defense finally runs out of gas

Jets defender DeMario Davis trails Seattle Seahawks running

Jets defender DeMario Davis trails Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch during the first half. (Nov. 11, 2012) (Credit: AP)

SEATTLE -- For 45 minutes, the Jets' defense did what it could to cover for its pop-gun offense, bottling up running back Marshawn Lynch, harassing quarterback Russell Wilson and generally keeping things respectable.

The unit even did what the offense never got around to doing: It scored. Muhammad Wilkerson returned Wilson's fumble 21 yards for a tying touchdown.

Pretty good for a guy who predicted on WFAN on Friday that the Jets would "rattle" the precocious rookie.

Alas, as tackle Mike DeVito -- who forced that fumble by Wilson -- said after the Seahawks' 28-7 victory at CenturyLink Field: "The toughest thing is it wasn't four quarters, it was three quarters."

Sure enough, the defense came apart down the stretch, apparently through a combination of exhaustion and a desperate desire to make something happen.

In the final 15 minutes, Seattle scored 14 points, had the ball for 12:05, recorded eight first downs and managed the remarkable feat of having two players record perfect passer ratings of 158.3 in the same period.

Wilson was 3-for-3 for 55 yards and a 31-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice. And wide receiver Golden Tate was 1-for-1, completing a 23-yard scoring pass to Rice that put the Jets out of their misery.

Lynch? He rushed six times for 60 yards in the final quarter after carrying 21 times for 64 in the first three.

The good start was not nearly enough to make coach Rex Ryan feel better about his defense's awful finish.

When he was asked about the unit's strong points, he initially paused, then said, "Um, I thought we had a good plan."

Soon, though, he was saying this: "The fourth quarter, that's not acceptable to tackle the way we did. I understand we were trying to make plays, but it starts with fundamentals. It's no different than a quarterback forcing the ball."

Ryan's complaint was that in an effort to create turnovers, the defenders lost sight of their primary mission: tackling. He compared it to a baseball player trying to hit a three-run home run with nobody on base.

"You have to get the guy on the ground," he said. "Forget about getting the turnover. We have to get the guy on the ground first."

Said safety Yeremiah Bell: "We're a good football team, but when you give teams plays and help them out in situations you shouldn't, you make it hard on yourself."

Wilson gave the Jets credit for doing a good job in the first half. "And we did a good job of stopping them in the second half," he said. "We did a great job of that."

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