The Jets defense had a chance to make a stand. The unit had forced the Colts into a fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line midway through the third quarter, and while the Jets trailed by 10, the game was not yet out of reach.
The result summed up how Sunday went for the Jets: just another whiff.
Rookie Jonathan Taylor got the handoff. Safety Bradley McDougald came across the line of scrimmage to meet him and went low. But Taylor juked, McDougald tackled the air, and Taylor stepped into the end zone for the touchdown, giving the Colts a 17-point lead on the way to a 36-7 thrashing of the Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“We knew what they were going to run. At the end of the day, we have to execute, and that’s everybody,” defensive lineman and captain Steve McLendon said.
“Execution and finish making the plays that are there to be made. That’s the biggest thing. It’s not play calling. Like I told the guys, it’s totally up to us. You have to make up in your mind that you are tired, and you are absolutely tired of the outcome. Once you make that up in your mind, that’s when the change will come.”
The 36 points scored by the Colts weren’t all on the Jets defense — 16 came from their offense, with Sam Darnold throwing a pair of pick-sixes and then getting sacked for a safety — but Gregg Williams’ unit didn’t do much to help the cause.
Philip Rivers was barely touched all day, facing little pressure as he picked apart the Jets on 17 of 21 passing for 217 yards and a touchdown. He was not sacked and was only hit once, even getting to put his feet up early, as backup Jacoby Brissett entered the game with 9:35 left and the Colts leading 31-7.
McDougald, who called out the Jets after last week’s loss for their sluggish practices, later left the game with an injury.
Even when the Jets got their hands on the Colts’ receivers, tight ends and running backs — who often had plenty of space to operate — they struggled to wrap them up on the first try as they were gashed for 353 yards.
“We just have to keep working on it,” coach Adam Gase said of the missed tackles. “We’re three games into the season. I don’t know, maybe at the end of the year, you look at it and say preseason was that big of a deal. That’s where you get most of your tackling experience for the year, where you’re hardening up and getting used to doing that. Unfortunately, we’re going through this in-season.”