Dustin Keller #81 of the New York Jets reacts after...

Dustin Keller #81 of the New York Jets reacts after a play against the Baltimore Ravens. Credit: Getty/Jim McIsaac

The fallout from their season-opening debacle has caused more than a few snickers.

Detractors are openly pointing at the Jets and laughing, all because they spent months talking about their talent level and how this is a Super Bowl season.

A futile performance against the Ravens with a national audience looking in already has the naysayers out in force, causing many to scrape their knees jumping off the bandwagon throughout the week.

"That's fine," veteran Jets fullback Tony Richardson said. "That's OK. I guess it's human nature because there was a lot of hype and lot of buildup coming into this season with all the new people coming in and everything else. But I understand. I've been in this league long enough to understand that you don't win championships and you don't make the playoffs in Week 1.

"So the bottom line is, you've got to get some wins and when it's all said and done, you've got to count 'em up and see how many you get. And hopefully you've got enough to get into the tournament."

Still, a loss to the rival Patriots Sunday surely wouldn't make that an easy task, even though the air isn't totally crisp at the moment and the leaves have yet to change colors around here. With Tom Brady & Co. coming off a season-opening victory over the Bengals as they make their first regular-season visit to the New Meadowlands Stadium, the Jets are facing a major challenge and need a strong bounce-back effort.

Last thing they can afford to do is fall to 0-2 on the heels of a week where they lost in undisciplined, conservative-like fashion and saw their Pro Bowl nose tackle's season come to an end with a torn ACL.

Only 7 of 69 teams that have started 0-2 have made the postseason. Just don't call Sunday a must-win game, though.

"This early, I definitely think there's such a thing as a crucial game," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "Must-win? I don't know about that. But crucial, especially confidence-wise and the things we're trying to do here."

Jason Taylor said: "I'm not really big on the must-game thing. I think every game in this league is a must-win. It's not like baseball or basketball where, if you drop one or two here it's not that big of a deal. In this league, there's 16 games and they're so important.

"What happens in September can really cost you in December and January, so every game's a must-win. And this one for a lot of reasons: we want to win at home, obviously. We want to get that first win of the season; it's a division game - one of three in a row. So there's a lot of reasons to win this game."

If that's going to happen, they Jets are going to have to stop the Patriots' potent offense. New England raced to a 31-3 lead against the Bengals and rolled up 376 yards.

"The Patriots are still the reigning leader in our division," defensive end Shaun Ellis said. "It goes through Foxborough. So we've really got to put a stamp on this game, like, 'OK, the Jets are for real, things can really go our way.' "

But again, don't call it a must-win scenario.

"I don't know how believable that is in Week 2," Rex Ryan said. "We need a win in our stadium. That's the way it is. That's how I feel. That was the thing about last week. The fans were there, we had it going and we never found a way to get it done.

"It's going to be a huge challenge. Yes, I want to win. Is it a must-win where you absolutely have to have it? No, but it kind of feels like it."

All thanks to Monday's meltdown against the Ravens, which quarterback Mark Sanchez believes is something that won't be repeated this afternoon.

"We're ready to go," he said. "We're ready to have a breakout game. No better week to do it. We'll get a win in our new stadium and get things rolling again."

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