Jets 'have to be better' on game-deciding play
Even as Tom Brady was marching the Buccaneers down the field, Robert Saleh felt good about the position the Jets were in.

They had managed to hold up defensively for most of the afternoon. They limited Brady and Co. to a field goal on their previous drive in the red zone. Only 20 seconds remained and the Buccaneers still were 33 yards from the end zone.

"We had an opportunity," the Jets' coach said. "We just needed to tackle them in bounds one more time and we would have been looking at a last-play effort to win it."

But the Jets didn't tackle them. Elijah Riley took a bad route and whiffed on the play. Brady had another comeback in a career full of them, a 28-24 victory over the Jets at MetLife Stadium after his 33-yard scoring strike to Cyril Grayson.

"Unfortunately, the last play, the touchdown, we have to be better from a coverage standpoint," Saleh said. "They shouldn't be getting explosives in that situation. We're basically in a two-shell and he still managed to catch a fade ball. It's not good."

It ruined what was otherwise a fantastic effort from the Jets and their 32nd-ranked scoring defense. The unit contained Brady and the explosive Buccaneers. But when the Jets failed to convert a fourth-and-2 deep in Tampa Bay territory with just over two minutes remaining, Brady got one last chance. Of course, he made the most of it, producing the 53rd comeback victory of his Hall of Fame career and improving to 31-8 lifetime against the Jets.

"What it really comes down to is I just need to make that play," Riley said. "There's not much more that needs to be said about that when it comes down to it. In the final seconds, against a team like this, I've got to be able to make that play."

Just two weeks earlier, Riley had suffered what initially appeared to be a serious neck injury when he was carted off the field in Miami. The 23-year-old safety, picked up by the Jets on Nov. 9 off the Eagles' practice squad, ended up suffering a concussion, but missed only one game. On Sunday, he was back on the field and produced six tackles and a tackle for loss. But he couldn't make the play that led to the Jets' 12th loss of the year. "It was close," Riley said. Just not close enough.

Zach Brazillier, The New York Post, published 3 January 2022