Jets' defense plays well but allows winning touchdown late in loss to Lions
D.J. Reed wasn’t pouring sugar on what had just happened to the Jets’ defense. This hurt.
The unit basically held up its end against the Lions on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, with the exception of one late fourth-down play.
That mistake came with a big price tag — a 20-17 loss to the Lions in a winnable game for a franchise hoping to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season.
With the Jets holding a four-point lead, no one covered tight end Brock Wright on the first play after the two-minute warning. Jared Goff hit Wright for a 51-yard catch-and-run touchdown with 1:49 remaining for the first and only TD allowed by the NFL’s third-ranked defense.
“Obviously, we’re all devastated,” Reed said. “You give credit where it’s due. That was a good play. But as a defense, we put that on us because we want to be in those situations. We have a top defense in the NFL . . . We put that on our chest. We take that to the chin.”
The knockout blow came with the Lions facing fourth-and-1 at the Detroit 49. Goff faked a handoff, looked right briefly, then looked left to Wright. He caught the pass at the Jets’ 47 with no defender remotely in the neighborhood.
“We were in man, so somebody was supposed to have him,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “I was on the other side, so I didn’t see. I really wish that when I turned to go run that I saw him leak out.”
Wright raced along the left sideline, then took a slight right approaching the 10. Reed finally got over to make contact around the 2-yard line, but it was too late. The Jets had been fooled.
Reed said he hadn’t seen the play in his film study.
“They gave the ball to the tight end, who normally doesn’t get the ball in those situations,” he said. “We were playing aggressive defense. It’s fourth-and-1 and you have to play aggressive. If we stop the run, we win the game.
“He blocked whoever he blocked for about one or two seconds. If you see a man block, you’re going to naturally trigger for the run. He kind of just squared out to the opposite side of the field and was wide-open. The receivers ran deeper-developing routes on the other side of the field. Once he caught the ball, everybody else was on the other side of the field.”
And the Jets (7-7) are still on the outside looking in at the AFC’s postseason picture.
The Jets, who were without injured tackle Quinnen Williams and his 11 sacks, failed to sack Goff. They didn’t have a takeaway for the third straight game but did make a goal-line stand and held the Lions to two field goals before the late score.
“Without that last moment,” Reed said, “I thought we played great.”