NEW ORLEANS — On paper, the Jets’ defense did about what you would expect in a road game against a high-powered offense with a star quarterback.
The Saints racked up 416 yards in a 31-19 victory at the Superdome on Sunday. But when it was over, it was the offense making apologies for the result, because the defense did its part.
After a terrible start in which the Saints scored 17 points on their first three possessions and appeared headed for a blowout victory, New Orleans’ next seven possessions produced no points and three turnovers.
“That’s tough,” coach Todd Bowles said. “When you get three turnovers, normally you win the ballgame.”
The Jets had not had a single takeaway in their previous three games combined. But the offense was unable to make enough plays to take full advantage.
The worst of it might have been when Leonard Williams intercepted a pass that gave the Jets the ball at New Orleans’ 11-yard line with 1:14 left in the first half. Three plays and no yards later, the Jets settled for a 29-yard field goal.
“There’s where it’s tough for us, for me, to swallow,” quarterback Bryce Petty said. “That’s what you want out of a defense is to force turnovers . . . Our defense played their butts off.”
Defensive players noted that the early troubles centered on a few big plays and added that once they settled down, they were able to contain the Saints.
Linebacker Darron Lee said there were communication problems early on in the loud stadium. “We came back, and that’s all that matters,” he said.
Jamal Adams and Buster Skrine forced fumbles and Williams had the lone interception.
Skrine said coaches had noted that the Saints receivers carry the ball loosely and urged them to go after it.
“We talk about it every day, and this week we really emphasized turnovers because we haven’t had them in a while,” he said.
Said Adams, “We preach it in practice and we preach before the games: Just create turnovers to help our offense. That’s what we should have been doing this whole year. We haven’t been creating those turnovers. We got three and we definitely have got to finish those plays and those opportunities for us.”
With the score 17-13 in the fourth quarter, Skrine forced and recovered a fumble by Brandon Coleman. The offense got as far as the Jets’ 41-yard line before punting the ball away. On their ensuing possession, the Saints made it 24-13.
“[The defense] was helping us out, they’re creating turnovers, getting stops, giving us chances,” receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “We have to help them out.”
Said cornerback Morris Claiborne, “We didn’t do enough. We were able to get off the field, but they converted on some big plays. We gave up the first couple of drives. We gave up two touchdowns in a row, and to beat those types of teams, you can’t give those guys that.”