Jets mistakes prove costly in loss to Patriots

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Jets mistakes prove costly in loss to Patriots

FOXBORO -- Rex Ryan walked slowly to his postgame press conference and stepped up to the microphone, full of regret.

"Well, ah, you know, ah, I think you, ah, have to, you know, give New England a ton of credit," Ryan said, wiping his face. "That's a heck of a football team. You know, we made too many mistakes to beat them. I think that's it."

The Jets had their chances to win on Sunday but lost to the Patriots in overtime, 26-23. If not for their own self-inflicted errors, they thought, it could be them sitting atop the AFC East at 4-3, not the Patriots.

"You have to learn from the things we messed up on," said Jets defensive end Mike DeVito. "We have to watch the film and bounce back. It is still within our reach, and we control our own destiny. We just have to bounce back and get ready for next week."

The Jets miscues started with Devin McCourty's 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter. The Jets were up a touchdown early, and just seconds later they allowed the special teams equalizer to a team that has struggled this season to get its return game firing. Strike one.

"We just over-pursued," said Jets safety Antonio Allen. "Through the whole week we were reading the wedge and seeing where it was going. It was a special teams breakdown."

Then in the second quarter, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and running back Shonn Greene botched a handoff when Vince Wilfork drove Jets guard Matt Slauson into the backfield. Sanchez kicked the resulting fumble out of the back of his own end zone for a safety. Strike two.

"We had some unfortunate errors," said Jets tackle D'Brickshaw Ferguson. "The whole game was a fight. When you're playing an opponent like this and it is a tough game, it's the small things that become really big."

On the Jets' next possession, Sanchez drove the Jets 56 yards before another hiccup. With New York on New England's 36-yard line, rookie receiver Stephen Hill was all alone in the front right corner of the end zone. Sanchez lobbed a fluttering pass through the air and into the wind toward Hill. It died and landed in the hands of another rookie, Patriots corner back Alfonzo Dennard, who was able to camp under the ball for his first career pick.

"It looked like the ball never came out of his hand right," Ryan said of Sanchez's throw.

Strike three. And the Jets hadn't yet made it out of the first half.

The Jets trailed by just six at halftime, somehow. Mostly because the Patriots were not error-free themselves. Nor would they be perfect in the second half. But the Jets continued to screw up at a pace that wouldn't allow them to move ahead on the scoreboard.

They allowed the Patriots to drive 83 yards on their first possession of the second half, including a two-yard touchdown catch by Rob Gronkowski on a play that Ryan said his team practiced defending all week.

At the end of the fourth quarter came the real stinger, when Hill dropped an easy first down deep in New England territory. The Jets had to settle for a game-tying field goal with 2:11 left instead of running off more clock -- and maybe coming away with more points.

"It was just a catch I should have caught," Hill said. "Other than that, that's it."

Fittingly, the Jets finished the game with one final misstep. With the Patriots up three in overtime, Rob Ninkovich got a beat on Mark Sanchez, knocked the ball loose and recovered the fumble.

Jets linebacker Calvin Pace was on the sideline when the Jets made their last, costly error. The play was under review, but he and the rest of his teammates knew what had happened. They had messed up. Again. And though the game was tight, over the course of the day, they had messed up more than the Patriots. Certainly too often to head home with a win.

"They are not the type of team to beat themselves," Pace said of the Patriots. "It just wasn't good enough . . . We missed a golden opportunity. Too many 'should ofs, could ofs, would ofs.' We just didn't get it done."

NFL Draft picks No. 25-31: Broncos move up to grab QB Lynch

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NFL Draft picks No. 25-31: Broncos move up to grab QB Lynch

No access at Gillette? No first-round pick unless the Patriots make a swap into the latter stages of the round? No problem. We're all over it from the palatial offices here in Burlington. We go pick-by-pick through the first round.

Steelers: Artie Burns, CB, Miami

Mike Tomlin had to be a little bit miffed when he saw the Bengals take Williams Jackson III with the No. 24 pick. The Steelers needed a corner in the worst way, and their division rival took the top available player at that position one slot ahead of them. Credit Pittsburgh for sticking with its plan if it works out, though. Burns is a corner who has all the traits you could ever want -- length, athleticism, ball skills -- but he's going to need work on his technique if he wants to slow down AJ Green twice a year. 

Broncos: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

He may not be ready to start right away, but the Broncos knew what they were doing when they traded up. Lynch is a big-armed quarterback who at 6-foot-7 has enough athleticism to be able to roll out and make throws on the run -- something that will be asked of him in Gary Kubiak's offense. Mark Sanchez still may be Denver's best bet in Week 1, but if Lynch even approaches his potential in Year 1, he could see some starter's snaps. 

Packers: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA

He's not built like BJ Raji, but Clark will help fill left the void Raji left behind when the veteran defensive tackle walked away from the game this offseason. A strong player who hasn't yet turned 21 years old, Clark has all kinds of upside to offer Mike McCarthy's defense. 

49ers: Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford

The Niners traded up to this spot, leading many to believe that they'd go after a quarterback. Connor Cook, perhaps? Instead they made the oh-so-flashy move to lock up a guard. Garnett had a lot of success in Stanford's pro-style offense playing alongside left tackle Kyle Murphy. Garnett is a machine in the running game and should be a longtime starter. 

Cardinals: Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss

Arizona came into the draft pretty well-set offensively so adding an explosive presence on the interior like Nkemdiche helps make them a more well-rounded roster. He has plenty of off-the-field concerns, but if he can keep his head on straight, this will represent great value for coach Bruce Arians and Co. The Patriots offensive line will have its hands full Week 1 with Nkemdiche, Chandler Jones and Calais Campbell to worry about. 

Panthers: Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech

The Panthers could've used a corner or a receiver. A defensive end might've made sense, too. Instead, they went after this big-bodied monster. Weighing in at over 320 pounds, Butler handles his weight well and should be able to help collapse opposing offensive lines at the next level. A defense that was already very good just got a little better up front. 

Seahawks: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M

The Seahawks (and quarterback Russell Wilson) can breathe easy as they escape the first round with some much-needed offensive line help. There are some questions as to where Ifedi will play on the line -- is he a guard or a right tackle? -- but his length and overall athleticism should help him turn into a building block in the trenches.

Who could the Patriots have had at No. 29?

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Who could the Patriots have had at No. 29?

Had their first-round pick not been confiscated by Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent, who might the Patriots have selected with the 29th overall pick?

A very good football player. And that’s where the sting is. Yeah, it sucks if Tom Brady sits four games and that’s going to put the Patriots a couple steps back in 2016.

But players like Reggie Ragland, Myles Jack, Sterling Shepard, A’Shawn Robinson, Derrick Henry, Kevin Dodd or Jarron Reed all could have been Patriots and instead fall to the teams behind them

On the bright side, the Patriots can now partake in the 2016 NFL Draft.

On the down side, there were so many options. Jack, seen as a top-five talent, has injury concerns that caused his red-flagged posterior to slide tragically down the board. The UCLA linebacker is way, way, way deeper in his free-fall than anyone expected.

For safe picks, there were a fleet of Alabama players sitting there. The linebacker Ragland is a classic two-down inside linebacker who could thump. Kind of a better Brandon Spikes. Robinson’s a penetrating defensive lineman that gets the job done with power and athleticism. Henry was the Heisman Trophy winner at running back, Dodd is a destructive edge rusher from Clemson who is on the rise and Reed was a classic nose-tackle also from Alabama.

Then there was my guy, wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Plus a few good corners. None of whom will be in New England.

Said NFL Network host Rich Eisen as pick 29 came up and a picture of a cascading fountain was broadcast, “It would have been lit up Patriots colors. But we all know why it isn’t.”

NFL Draft picks No. 17-24: Texans, 'Skins, Vikings make run on WRs

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NFL Draft picks No. 17-24: Texans, 'Skins, Vikings make run on WRs

No access at Gillette? No first-round pick unless the Patriots make a swap into the latter stages of the round? No problem. We're all over it from the palatial offices here in Burlington. We go pick-by-pick through the first round.

Lions: Taylor Decker, OT, OSU

Former Patriots personnel man Bob Quinn plucks a 6-foot-7, 310-pound mass of humanity and bad humor. The skinny on Decker is that he’s a Sebastian Vollmer-type according to NFL.com. He can play either tackle spot, strength, size and toughness are not an issue so it’s a low-risk selection which is a bright way to begin one’s GMing tenure.

Falcons: Keanu Neal, S, Florida

Following on the heels of Quinn, the Scott Pioli-Thomas Dimitroff grabbed a big-hitting safety who can play up in the box in run-support and also cover the tight ends and backs. Regarded as one of the best hitters in the draft.

Colts: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama

Ryan Grigson could screw up a one-car funeral when it comes to the draft. But, knowing he couldn’t butcher yet another first-round pick, he must have had someone put in the sensible selection for him. Kelly won’t mess anything up. And he could be devastating if the Colts ever run that long-snapper and Griff Whelan play again. (I know. Whelan is a Dolphin now…)

Bills: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

The Bills add a 6-3, 269-pound edge rusher whose forte is ripping into backfields and will be a big personality for the Bills. Alongside Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes, Lawson steps right in to the vacancy left by the disinterested Mario Williams. Lawson is more of a strength rusher like Jabaal Sheard than a long angular guy like Chandler Jones.

Jets: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State

Kind on an undersized linebacker but a tremendous athlete who can cover at the second level with his 4.47 speed. Also had the best vertical and broad jump at the Combine. He’s 6-1, 232 pounds and will probably need some help from his scheme to get the best out of him. The Jets outstanding defensive front could afford head coach Todd Bowles with the bodies to do that for Lee.

Texans: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

Very fast, outstanding athlete, has hands like feet. Anyone that watched the BC-Notre Dame game at Fenway Park witnessed just how bad Fuller’s hands are. Taking him with LaQuon Treadwell on the board still seems a monumental misstep by head coach Bill O’Brien and GM Rick Smith.

Redskins: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

Washington somewhat reluctantly gave quarterback Kirk Cousins the franchise tag because they had no other options and wanted to see what he could do before anteing up huge for a long-term deal. At least he’s got a real good young weapon at his disposal to help him make his dough. A 6-1, 202-pounder with excellent hands and the ability to go and get the ball in the red zone, smart pick.

Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi

A 6-2, 221-pounder who slid because of his 4.64 40 but is a physically dominant player because of the size, strength, smarts combo. Just a really, really strong player who works hard, blocks fiercely and goes to a good NFC team on the rise. You look at all the burners who get drafted in the 20s and flame out, taking a player like Treadwell who may be a half-step slow but can use his body to win is a smart play.

Bengals: William Jackson III, CB, Houston

Long corner who has very good ball skills and makeup speed. He’s not exceptionally strong so while he’s willing to be physical he gets jostled a little bit. In the AFC North, he’ll be fine against everyone but the Steelers who will give him all he can handle. The Senator says, “He’s better than Eli Apple, as far as I’m concerned.”