The Jets closed within 27-21 on a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes and simply needed their defense to make enough plays to get off the field and give Mark Sanchez a chance to make another last second comeback. The Patriots were willing to give them that chance by turning away from their passing attack and putting the ball on the ground, a matchup that should have favored Rex Ryan's defense.
It didn't work out that way. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran the ball for 59 yards, picking up first down after first down and milking more than six minutes off the clock before a field goal gave the Patriots a 30-21 victory.
You don't need a doctorate in coaching to understand that Bill Belichick was sending a message to Ryan with that final drive, and you have to imagine Ryan understood it without any translation: The Patriots are able to beat you at their game, and they are able to beat you at your game because there's nothing you can do about it.
That disheartening end ruined a few positive steps from the Jets after their two awful losses to the Raiders and Ravens. The offensive line's performance was much improved with Nick Mangold back in the middle of the line, the pass rush got to Tom Brady for four sacks and the running game made its first positive appearance of the season.
It wasn't close to enough to win the game, though. Wes Welker had 124 receiving yards, the two Patriots tight ends had nine catches for 87 yards and the Jets offense still failed to move the ball for long stretches of the game.
The Jets have to hope that the signs of life can be the foundation for better results in the weeks to come, but those results aren't going to come until Ryan puts the teeth back into this defense. They were run over with the game on the line, something that overwhelms everything that came before.
Almost everything, anyway. Those two losses that came before still resonate since the Jets are now 2-3 and losers of three straight games after the biggest boy on the block totally steamrolled them.