By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
FOXBORO New York Jets coach and resident loud mouth Rex Ryan is not all that different than most NFL coaches.
When the game is over and he's back in the locker room with his team, he takes a good look at the game's final statistics. Sometimes coaches will sense during the game that a certain part of their team's play was really bad, only to find the statistics tell a different story.
Ryan was not so fortunate.
During the game, he knew his team wasn't doing well on third downs and the final tally proved him correct. For all that didn't go the Jets way in New England's 30-21 win, New York's woeful play on third downs really stood out.
"You gotta convert on third down," a clearly dejected Ryan said afterward. "They Patriots were 50 percent on third downs."
A pitiful 3-for-11, or 27 percent.
"We have to convert on third downs," he said.
Making matters worse for the Jets was that many of the third-downs they faced were short-yardage situations.
In the first half, New York failed to convert on four of their five third-down situations. Of those four failed opportunities, three of them required New York picking up two yards or less.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez wasn't surprised that third-down play was such an important part of Sunday's game.
"I knew we were going to need some big plays on third down, and that's where we lost the game," he said. "What were we, 3-for-10? You can't win like that; not against these guys. You gotta keep them off the field and make it easier on your defense."
New York's struggles on third down Sunday were indicative of how what they have been doing on third downs all season, having come into Sunday's game converting just 33 percent of their third-down attempts which ranked No. 23 (out of 32 teams).
And while there were plenty of reasons and places for the Jets to place the blame for Sunday's loss - their third in a row, mind you - without question the inability to convert third-downs sticks out.
"That's the only stat I judge from this game," said Sanchez.