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Jets’ Ryan says he won’t forget OT loss to Vikings

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Rex Ryan’s tenure as the coach of the New York Jets will almost certainly end in 21 days. He will remember his 49th regular-season loss with the Jets for a far longer period of time.

An ashen-faced Ryan has become a common postgame sight as the misery and losses have mounted for the Jets. But rarely has Ryan looked or sounded as depressed as he did Sunday, when the Jets gave up an 87-yard touchdown off a screen pass in overtime to lose to the Minnesota Vikings, 30-24.

“Those have a tendency to stick with you a lifetime,” Ryan said of the sudden loss. “Just like this one will.”

The Jets’ entire season was summarized in the touchdown pass from Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to wide receiver Jarius Wright. The Vikings were facing a third-and-5 with 10:35 left in overtime. Ryan, eager to force Minnesota to punt from deep in its own territory in hopes of getting the Jets good field position to set up the winning field goal attempt, called a “cover zero” blitz that left no safety in the defensive backfield.

But Bridgewater, a rookie, sniffed out the blitz and changed the play call at the line of scrimmage. Even then, Wright should have been corralled for little to no gain by safety Jaiquawn Jarrett. But Jarrett whiffed and Wright went untouched into the end zone with defensive end Sheldon Richardson futilely giving pursuit beyond midfield.

“I came here to win the game, not just to play it close,” Ryan said. “So that’s clearly on my shoulder.”

Ryan’s self-flagellation act might win him some points with some of the general managers and/or owners searching for coaches following the season. But the Jets’ 11th defeat, like most of the first 10, was the result of a team with no margin for error making way too many mistakes.

The Jets finished with five field goals and no touchdowns in five marches into the red zone. Quarterback Geno Smith’s first pass of the game was intercepted and returned for a touchdown — his eighth pick-six in 24 NFL starts. And running back Chris Ivory cost the Jets at least three points, and as many as seven, by fumbling inside the Vikings’ 5-yard line in the second quarter.

“Chris is doing a great job for us,” Ryan said. “I thought he was going to get in the end zone. And then, all of a sudden the ball gets knocked out. But it’s been that kind of year for us …”

NOTES: WR Percy Harvin (ankle) was injured in the fourth quarter and was on crutches after the game. Coach Rex Ryan said the Jets believe Harvin suffered a low ankle injury, which means he might be able to return this season. Harvin is not expected to play Sunday, when the Jets visit the Titans. … S/CB Antonio Allen suffered a broken hand Sunday. However, coach Rex Ryan said Allen has been fitted for a cast and is expected to practice this week and play against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

REPORT CARD VS. VIKINGS

–PASSING OFFENSE: C — The day for QB Geno Smith started in the worst fashion possible, when his first pass was picked off by LB Gerald Hodges and returned for an interception. But Smith didn’t unravel and displayed some much-needed mental toughness during an otherwise solid performance (18 of 29, 254 yards, one touchdown). He had decent chemistry with top two wideouts Percy Harvin (six catches for 124 yards and one touchdown) and Eric Decker (six catches for 89 yards), though his 35-yard scoring strike to Harvin was underthrown and required an impressive effort by Harvin to turn it from an interception into a touchdown. Only two other receivers, Jeremy Kerley (two catches for 17 yards) and Chris Owusu (one catch for seven yards), had receptions. The Jets didn’t score a touchdown on five trips inside the red zone, but Smith wasn’t the culprit. He was 2 of 5 inside the Vikings’ 20-yard line and had a potential touchdown catch dropped by slumping TE Jeff Cumberland. Now, of course, the task for Smith is to build off Sunday instead of immediately regressing.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C — The numbers look pretty good — 168 yards on 42 carries — but RB Chris Ivory (16 carries for 73 yards) committed the costliest mistake of regulation when he fumbled inside the Vikings’ 5-yard line midway through the second quarter. It was the first fumble for Ivory since 2010. He split carries evenly with RB Chris Johnson (16 carries for 53 yards), who didn’t display any of the elusiveness or explosiveness he showed against the Miami Dolphins six nights earlier. Ivory and Johnson combined for 17 runs of three yards or less, including a 2-yard loss for Ivory on a first-and-goal from the Vikings’ 3-yard line on the Jets’ first series of the second half. Smith had 33 yards on six carries, including an 18-yard scramble to set up the tying field goal in the final minute of regulation.

–RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus — It was a typically stout effort from the Jets, who took advantage of a Vikings run game missing suspended superstar Adrian Peterson and injured rookie big-play threat Jerick McKinnon. The Jets limited the plodding Matt Asiata to 54 yards on 19 carries. He got 18 yards on three carries on the Vikings’ second touchdown drive. The longest rush of the day for the Vikings was a 23-yard gain by WR Jarius Wright out of the Wildcat. The Jets are now allowing opposing teams to rush for 3.5 yards a carry, tied for second-best with the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

–PASS DEFENSE: F — It was the story of the season for the Jets, who generally contained Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater except for a handful of costly breakdowns that were the difference between victory and defeat. Bridgewater completed 19 of 27 passes for 309 yards, with 185 of those yards coming on eight completions of more than 10 yards. Those, of course, include the winning 87-yard touchdown to Wright off a screen pass as well as the 56-yard touchdown pass to rookie WR Charles Johnson in the first quarter. The two best players in a decimated Jets secondary this season have been CB Darrin Walls and safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, but Johnson roasted Walls on his touchdown while Jarrett missed a tackle on Wright’s score. Johnson got wide open for what should have been a 23-yard touchdown in the second quarter but fumbled at the 1-yard line (RB Jerome Felton recovered it in the end zone). The Jets also nearly allowed the Vikings to win it in regulation by allowing Bridgewater to eat up 40 yards on two completions in the final 16 seconds.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus — The Jets were almost as good on special teams Sunday as they were bad last Monday night. Kicker Nick Folk tied a career high with five field goals, which was pretty impressive for a guy battling a hip injury. Folk kicked away from dangerous Vikings kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson in the first half before WR T.J. Graham recovered a Patterson fumble forced by RB Bilal Powell on the opening kickoff of the second half. Harvin racked up 109 yards on four kickoff returns, two of which set up Jets scores. Kerley’s 13-yard punt return set up one of the Jets’ field goals, though his muff of a punt late in the fourth quarter almost cost the Jets their chance to tie the game. Punter Ryan Quigley averaged 40 yards on four punts, though that figure was bolstered by a 58-yard boot in the fourth quarter.

–COACHING: C — Ryan fell on his sword, over and over again, for the blitz that led to the winning touchdown, but it’s not his fault Jarrett couldn’t make a tackle. Ryan again did a solid job of getting a talent-starved squad to play a competitive game, this time on a short week. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg drew up a far more varied game plan that gave Smith the chance to do something other than hand off the ball. For the most part, it worked.


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