FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Kacy Rodgers challenged the Jets’ defense to show up in the season finale in New England and not let the Patriots embarrass them again.
The defensive coordinator doesn’t often say much, but on Thursday, he directed some pointed words at his unit, reminding the players how the Patriots ran all over them in a 27-13 loss at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 25. The Patriots racked up 498 total yards, including 215 on the ground on 36 carries.
“I felt like we should have been embarrassed, some of the runs we gave up,” Rodgers said after describing how his unit was manhandled. “It was just really unacceptable.”
Rodgers didn’t seem as upset when last week’s Packers game was mentioned. That was another bad look for his defense.
The Jets (4-11) gave up 540 yards of offense and numerous chunk plays as the defense melted down in a 44-38 overtime loss. The Packers had eight plays of at least 20 yards, including four in the fourth quarter, when the Jets squandered a 15-point lead.
“You ain’t going to win many games giving up 500 yards total offense,” Rodgers said after a chuckle. “But you got to bounce back and go back to work.”
The defense was a strength early in the year but has let down since the middle of the season. In the last four games alone, the Jets have lost three times after leading late in the fourth quarter.
In the loss to New England, the Jets were dominated the last three-plus quarters, getting outscored 27-6 in the final 46:11.
The Patriots have been running the ball more this year. They’re ranked seventh in the NFL with an average of 127.1 rushing yards per game. The 215 yards was the Patriots’ biggest rushing output of the season until last week, when they ran for 273 yards in a win over the Bills.
Patriots rookie Sony Michel rushed for a season-high 133 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. He had two runs of at least 31 yards and James White had two of at least 24.
Rodgers said he doesn’t need to remind his defense of what happened.
“Those guys have been a pretty prideful group,” he said. “They saw it. We addressed it the Monday after we watched every play. They whooped us at the point of attack.”
When Rodgers was asked if he’ll bring it up before Sunday, he said, “They should know. They have good memories.”
Defensive end Leonard Williams said the Jets are thinking of redemption Sunday. He probably is, too, after being ejected from the Packers game in the second quarter for throwing a punch.
Williams compared the New England loss to the humiliating 41-10 loss at home to the Bills. The Jets got their mini-revenge in Buffalo earlier this month when their defense played well in the second half in a win.
“It’s similar to what happened with Buffalo,” he said. “Buffalo came in here and beat us pretty good. We had a bad taste in our mouth and wanted to go back up there and do it to them.
“The Patriots came down here and ran the ball really well against us. It’s something that we take pride in, stopping the run and having a good defense. We definitely see it as a challenge — especially seeing how well they’ve been running the ball lately — going up there and stopping the run and getting a win in their home.”