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Baumbach: Win overshadows defense's poor fourth quarter

Houston's Joel Dreessen scored this touchdown late in

Houston's Joel Dreessen scored this touchdown late in the fourth quarter after a blown assignment by the Jets' defense. (Nov. 21, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

You're starting to get the sense that stunning last-second victories for the Jets are becoming old hat, especially considering that Rex Ryan began yesterday's postgame news conference by addressing what went wrong with the defense rather than celebrating what went right with the comeback.

And it was a Jets fan, of all people, who lured the coach into doing that.

As the coach made his way to the podium after his team's improbable 30-27 victory over the Houston Texans, he received a boisterous ovation from the fans whose tickets allowed them to attend the question-and-answer session from behind glass walls.

But one fan's voice carried above the rest, and the conviction he displayed in asking Ryan what went wrong with the defense not only caught the coach's attention but garnered a response. "It wasn't very good," Ryan said of his defense, "but it was good enough."

Many of his defensive players, however, wouldn't even say that much. After blowing a 16-point fourth-quarter lead by giving up 20 unanswered points, only a handful of players were willing to admit the obvious: that the defense did much more to lose this game than win it.

For a unit many pegged as one of the league's best coming into the season, that admission hurt.

"We're not happy for how we won," cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "We were up by a bunch of points and one thing we've got to learn is once we have a team down, to keep them down and finish the game strong. We need to point the fingers at us."

Against the Browns the previous week, the Jets also allowed a 59-yard drive capped by a tying touchdown with 44 seconds left in regulation before winning in overtime.

Nobody in an otherwise jubilant locker room could pinpoint exactly why Texans quarterback Matt Schaub picked apart their secondary so easily in the fourth quarter. Schaub compiled 163 of his 254 passing yards in the final quarter, and most maddening of all is that the Jets knew he was going to throw most of the time.

The closest anyone came to offering an explanation for the defense's demise was safety Jim Leonhard, who suggested they should have been more aggressive in switching their defensive schemes in anticipation of Schaub's passing attack. Instead, they stuck mostly with the zone coverages they had been using most of the game.

"You get a big lead like that and you have to change the way you're calling a game and you have to change how aggressive you are playing it," Leonhard said. "We didn't do that and it should have got us beat."

Leonhard seemed most frustrated by Schaub's 43-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joel Dreessen that pulled the Texans within 23-17 midway through the fourth quarter. Dreessen, a former Jet, was wide open thanks to what Revis and Leonhard described as a blown coverage. "We were in a zone coverage and somebody didn't cover their man," Revis said, refusing to identify who it was.

But Schaub's performance on the next drive was the killer. With the Jets clinging to a six-point lead, the Texans took over at their 27-yard line with 6:09 remaining. Schaub began the drive with four straight completions of 3, 25, 20 and 4 yards, leading to Arian Foster's 1-yard touchdown run with 2:18 left.

Ryan said he's concerned "with how we're playing mentally," citing his defense's failure to make stops in the fourth quarter with the game in the balance.

"That's the mark of a defense that I know we have here, that we're going to have here," he said. "We're definitely going to have it. But we're going to have to look long and hard at it because we need to fix it and we need to fix it in a hurry."

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