New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (22) celebrates an interception...

New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (22) celebrates an interception during the second half of a game against the New England Patriots at MetLIfe Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

It was one of those games in which the official statistics weren't going to be of much use to anybody.

In their agonizing 17-16 loss to the Patriots on Sunday, the Jets outgained their rivals 307 yards to 231, sacked New England quarterback Tom Brady four times and held him to 182 yards passing, with one touchdown and one interception.

But no one on the Jets' defense seemed to take any pride in any of that.

"There's no silver lining to me," defensive end Leger Douzable said when asked about the defensive effort. "No matter how well you played, or think you played, if you don't get the win, to me, it doesn't matter."

The frustration for the Jets was even greater because this was the second tight game they had played against the Patriots. They lost, 27-25, on Oct. 16.

"People say that's the best team in the league, and we went toe-to-toe with them," defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. "Shoulda, coulda won it. But we didn't. Kudos to them."

The Jets pressured Brady throughout the first half, attacking him with a four-man rush that they practiced all week. The plan, they all said, was to make the future Hall of Famer uncomfortable and force him to move off his preferred spots. What helped them do it was a quality performance from the secondary, which had five pass breakups on the day -- three by rookie cornerback Marcus Williams, who also had a fourth-quarter interception.

"We had a feast out there, man,'' said Richardson, who admitted he thought the Jets were going to win the game after Williams intercepted Brady and the Jets had the ball at the Patriots' 30-yard line with 7:18 left. "I thought we had them there. Put some points on the board and hold 'em off, hold 'em off till the game was over."

But after two runs advanced the ball to the 24-yard line, Geno Smith was sacked for a 10-yard loss and Nick Folk's 52-yard field-goal attempt was partially blocked.

The defense got a boost from the return of defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who had missed the previous three games with turf toe. He said the toe did bother him some, but the loss clearly bothered him more.

"I mean, it's tough," Wilkerson said. "We just missed a few plays and they made more plays than us."

Linebacker David Harris had 10 tackles, including a half-sack of Brady on the Patriots' first offensive series that was Harris' 1,000th career tackle. But in a demoralized locker room afterward, Harris said: "It really doesn't mean much right now. I'd rather take the win."

It was suggested to Harris that the defense had done everything it could, holding Brady and the explosive Patriots to 17 points. What more could the defense have done?

"Hold them to 15 points," he said.

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