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Ugly loss 'hard to fathom' for Jets coach Rex Ryan

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Ugly loss 'hard to fathom' for Jets coach Rex Ryan

NEW YORK (AP) It was an embarrassing moment that has already been replayed thousands of times, and in many ways symbolized this increasingly awful season for the New York Jets.

There's Mark Sanchez running straight ahead on a busted play Thursday night - right into the backside of one of his offensive linemen. Sanchez lost the ball, the New England Patriots recovered it and took it into the end zone for one of three touchdowns in a 52-second span en route to a 49-19 thrashing of the Jets.

If you haven't seen it yet, it's all over YouTube - nearly 20,000 views in 15 hours - and will be included in pretty much every blooper reel from here on out.

``I'm not a big believer in luck,'' Sanchez said after the game, ``but that was pretty unlucky.''

That's the type of season this has been for the fading and fumbling Jets (4-7).

Rex Ryan was still trying to make sense of it all Friday morning, just hours after leaving MetLife Stadium following perhaps the worst loss in his nearly four seasons as Jets coach.

``It's still hard to fathom that one stretch,'' Ryan said during a conference call. ``I've never seen anything like it in all my years of coaching football or following football.''

Say this for Ryan, though: The guy is defiantly optimistic, no matter how silly or unrealistic it seems at the moment.

Sure, the Jets have lost four of their last five games and are barely holding on to their nearly impossible playoff hopes. But, Ryan believes his team might still be able to get this done, especially with their last five opponents all having losing records.

``I'm responsible for everything,'' Ryan said. ``I'm responsible for the 4-7 record and I'm responsible for how we play. But I will say this: I'll also be responsible for how we finish, and I'm confident that we'll finish.''

In reality, Ryan's bunch can forget about the playoffs for now. They'll have enough trouble even getting to .500 with the way they've played.

The heat has been turned up on Ryan, whose job appeared absolutely safe just a few weeks ago. Now, it could all depend on these last five games, and whether owner Woody Johnson regains confidence in him and general manager Mike Tannenbaum or decides to clean house.

Last season, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was the fall guy. Johnson might hold a few more people accountable this time around, Ryan included.

``I never thought we'd be in this position, but we are,'' Ryan said. ``I have to get better right now and we have to get better, and I'm confident we will. We have five games left in the regular season, and I think that we will get better. I know we'll get better.''

Ryan said he and Johnson spoke ``briefly'' but wouldn't elaborate on what was said. It surely wasn't positive, though. And, how could it be after the owner pushed to have his team showcased on Thanksgiving night for the second time in three years? Then, the Jets went out and allowed the most points to an opponent since giving up 52 in a season-opening loss to Miami in 1995.

Worse still, it came at the hands of the Jets' biggest rivals, the team Ryan appeared to have closed the gap on just two years ago. Now, it couldn't be wider - not that Ryan would acknowledge as much.

``They're an excellent football team,'' Ryan said. ``But to say we'll never catch them, that's ridiculous. There is no chance, there is absolutely no percent of a chance that I believe that in my heart. And I'll never concede that.''

This one was all about a few bad breaks, some unlucky moments and the Patriots taking advantage of them all.

``You turn the ball over five times, what do you expect the score to look like?'' Ryan said. ``That's it.''

Ryan again gave a vote of confidence to Sanchez as the Jets' starting quarterback, something compounded by the fact Tim Tebow revealed he has two broken ribs. And, despite all the mistakes, Ryan insisted there were positives.

``I saw us making strides up until this game and even in this game,'' Ryan said. ``I think our offense is improving, I really believe that.''

In another example of how bizarre this season has been, Ryan spent more than half the 19-minute conference call answering questions about the backup quarterback who never played a snap in the game.

Tebow was active, but remained on the sideline - cap on and hands in his pockets - throughout as the Jets bumbled their way through the second quarter and impatient fans chanted his name. Turns out Tebow was hurt not last Sunday at St. Louis, but the previous Sunday at Seattle.

Initial X-rays after the game against the Seahawks were negative, and Tebow played against St. Louis and continued to experience soreness. The soreness intensified Tuesday morning, but Tebow was a full participant in practice that day. An MRI exam and CT scan Tuesday night revealed the fractures, and Ryan was informed that night.

Ryan made Tebow active for the game against the Patriots after speaking with him and the quarterback undergoing a pregame evaluation. Tebow also refused any pain-killing injections before the game. He took no snaps on offense or special teams, and third-stringer Greg McElroy was inactive - leaving the Jets with just one healthy quarterback in their biggest game of the season.

``I know Tim was cleared to play,'' Ryan said. ``Obviously, if he was not cleared to play or if they thought he was in serious jeopardy to himself, then he never would have been activated.''

But, it was a curious decision considering that Ryan also told offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff that Tebow wasn't to be used unless it was an emergency. Apparently, 49-19 didn't qualify as such.

``People have played with cracked ribs,'' Ryan said. ``It was never told to me that he could not play. It was just the opposite, that he could play. It was me that said, `No, I'm not going to play him unless we absolutely have to.' Tim came to me, and he's like, `I can play. I want to play.'''

Ryan acknowledged that he ``considered'' making McElroy active against the Patriots, but decided Tebow would be the guy to go in if necessary. Tebow said after the game that he is unsure how long he might be hindered by the injury, and Ryan would only say that ``we'll see how the week progresses'' as to whether McElroy might be the backup in the team's next game against Arizona on Dec. 2.

``He absolutely, 100 percent,'' Ryan said of Tebow, ``could have played in that game.''

NOTES: Ryan confirmed that WR Clyde Gates suffered a concussion against the Patriots. He had no other injury updates, although WR Chaz Schilens said after the game that he also had a head injury. ... LB Bart Scott, still dealing with a hyperextended big toe, played in only 11 defensive snaps and Ryan acknowledged that ``we should have played him more.''

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

he win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

COLUMBUS — Alex Ovechkin confidently predicted earlier this week that the Caps were going to win twice at Nationwide Arena and take their first round series back to Washington knotted, two games apiece.

And, on Thursday night, that’s exactly what Ovechkin made sure his team did.

No. 8, who was playing in his franchise-record 101st playoff game, scored his third goal of the playoffs early in the final frame and the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 in Game 4.

Tarik’s Three Stars of Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4

1. Tom Wilson, Capitals

After a slow (and penalty-plagued) start to this series, Wilson has become a force. Yes, he took another minor, but the good is far outweighing the bad these days. Big Willy recorded a goal, an assist and a team-high seven shots. 

2. Braden Holtby, Capitals

Holtby had his best game in, well, a long time. He stopped 23 shots, including all eight he saw in a contentious second period.

The goal he surrendered was a nearly unstoppable tip-in by Boone Jenner.

3. T.J. Oshie, Capitals

Osh just plays the game so dang hard.

So it should come as no surprise that he delivered in his team’s biggest game of the season to this point. Oshie, of course, scored the game-winning goal on the power play midway through the second period.

It was No. 77’s second tally of the series. He also directed six shots at the Columbus net and made a couple of hits...all from a player who's been fighting through injury the past few weeks.

Agree? Disagree?

Let us know what you think in the comments.