BY NICK ST. DENIS
Outside their own locker room, the New York Jets weren't given a chance in their cross-conference visit to the Carolina Panthers Sunday.
But the Jets gave themselves a chance, and they almost convinced the outsiders why. And in an ultimate team effort, they gave it right back.
Gang Green had three costly gaffes -- one on offense, one on defense and another on special teams -- en route to what will likely go down as a season-ending loss to the Panthers.
"Same old stuff here and there," linebacker Calvin Pace said after the game, via Newsday. "I always say it's tough to play against an opponent and yourself.''
The Jets went punch-for-punch with the Panthers early on but gave up a 72-yard touchdown to DeAngelo Williams on a screen pass in the second quarter. Carolina extended its lead with a field goal before the mid-game break.
Gang Green fought back and got to within three points by the end of the third stanza, but early in the fourth, New York's special teams unit pitched in with a back-breaking mistake of its own.
New York's punt unit failed to pick up a stunt by Carolina's rush, as Jason Williams burst through the line to block Ryan Quigley's boot attempt. The Panthers scored a touchdown on the ensuing series, and Captain Munnerlyn returned a Geno Smith interception for a score on the next possession to seal the deal.
"I feel as though I let Rex down today," Smith said, via NJ.com. "He had talked to me about not having a turnover, playing a game without a turnover, and I wanted to do that today."
The rookie turnover-machine Smith is right to feel that way, but he's far from the only one on the team to let Ryan down. And since Ryan is ultimately responsible for his team's output, he's feeling the pain, too.
Ryan has officially gone three seasons without eclipsing a .500 record following consecutive trips to the AFC Championship game. He and his players have two weeks to prove their worth for the upcoming offseason, though for many, the damage has already been done.
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