When Geno Smith threw his third interception just 10 minutes, 20 seconds into the game against Buffalo on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, all the confusion and pressure the second-year quarterback was experiencing came crashing down on the entire Jets team.
Smith's teammates have suffered with him and supported his struggles, but this was a real KO punch.
Coach Rex Ryan had no choice but to insert veteran Michael Vick. Asked if Smith needed a timeout, guard Willie Colon took a deep breath and said: "I don't know, it's tough. When you start that rocky, it's a ripple effect. We feel it throughout the whole team."
Vick generated 17 first-half points and brought the Jets within a touchdown at halftime. But by the end of a 43-23 loss to the Bills, Vick had matched Smith's turnovers with two fumbles and an interception as the Jets lost for the seventh straight time after a season-opening victory.
At this point, there are no good answers for the Jets' offense, just a ton of uncertainty heading to the second half of the season and the future.
Rookie tight end Jace Amaro found it unfathomable that the Jets trailed only 30-17 when they committed their sixth turnover.
"It was just insane that we even had a chance with five turnovers already," he said.
Like Colon, Amaro indicated that the whole offense senses Smith's struggles and has reacted to the ripple effect. "Everyone is trying to make a big play," he said. "I've done it, too, with a couple of the drops I've had. It's not just Geno or Mike. It's really everybody, the line included.
"Everyone is putting a little too much pressure on themselves because we're on the brink of disaster."
Amaro traced it to the second game of the season when the Jets blew a 21-3 lead at Green Bay. "We've been unable to finish ever since the Green Bay game when we had that little collapse," he said. "We feel like we just took a tumble and never really got back up . . . We've had chances to take the lead in every single game, but we just haven't. That's the telltale of this season."
Wide receiver Eric Decker has gone from the sublime in Denver to the ridiculous with the Jets. "It's very difficult," he said. "You lose seven in a row in the fashion we lost today with turnovers, penalties and you name it. It's disheartening because we aren't a bad football team. We just do stupid stuff."
The positive impact Vick made early was evident to all.
"We started getting first downs," Decker said. "That gives a spark anytime. We moved the ball, we had some tempo, you drive and score. That's a momentum-changer."
But the Jets were fighting an uphill battle that went downhill quickly in the second half when Vick committed his second fumble and threw an interception. Was it rust, or should Vick's experience have enabled him to avoid those mistakes?
"He's getting mental reps, and he knows what the plays are," Decker said. "But when you're not given them physically during practice, working with the running backs or the receivers, it does make it more difficult, obviously."
Whatever decision Ryan and general manager John Idzik make at quarterback, Decker knows this much: "We can't have those mistakes, period. Whoever is going to be out there, whether it's him, whether it's Michael, whether it's me at receiver, it doesn't matter who it is. We can't do that."