EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Just as they did two weeks ago in Baltimore, the Broncos capitalized off an opponent's mistake to take a first-quarter lead. Just as they did in Baltimore, the Broncos struggled and lost their advantage before halftime.
That doomed them to their most resounding defeat of the season to date, a 34-16 loss that dropped them to 2-3 and extended their losing streak to three games.
"We come out, we start strong, just like the Ravens game," said defensive end Adam Gotsis, who forced and recovered a fumble on the Jets' second play from scrimmage.
"We're out there; we've got all the momentum in the world. We can put away a team before the half, and for some reason, we don't. I think everyone feels like that. Their whole crowd knew it, as well -- just like the Ravens game. We came out strong, and that little middle area -- who knows what's happening?"
What happened in that middle doomed the Broncos. After they capitalized on Gotsis' big play to take a 7-0 lead on a Case Keenum-to-Courtland Sutton touchdown connection, the Jets went on a 34-3 run before the Broncos had an answer that was too little, too late.
"We have no excuses today," Head Coach Vance Joseph said. "We played Monday night; it's a Sunday game. We didn't play good and it showed up. And that team wanted it more than our football team today, and it obviously showed.
"But we have no excuses. None."
Why did the Broncos fall to the Jets?
Because the Jets gashed the Broncos on the ground
With significant gaps at or near the line of scrimmage, the Jets' runners feasted, rampaging for 324 yards -- the most allowed by the Broncos since they surrendered 328 rushing yards to the Oakland Raiders in a 59-14 loss on Oct. 24, 2010.
Even when taking Isaiah Crowell's 77-yard touchdown gallop out of the equation, the Jets averaged 6.7 yards per attempt.
"Tackling. Fits," Joseph said. "On the [77-yard touchdown], we had two guys unblocked. We knew that play was going to bounce to the corner and the nickel player, and they didn't tackle the guy. The free safety didn't tackle him, either, so he goes for a long touchdown.
"We knew that [Crowell] had big-play ability, so I'm not surprised that he went the distance when no one tackled him. We had two guys unblocked."
Crowell finished the game with a Jets single-game record 219 yards on 15 carries.
"We've got to get numbers on the ball. If he's going to sit back there and dance around, we've got to get dudes on him. We can't miss tackles," Gotsis said.
Because the Jets' vertical passing game dominated the second quarter
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold completed just 10 of 22 passes, but considering that two of them covered a combined 111 yards and resulted in Robby Anderson touchdowns, he didn't need to do much more.
On the 76-yarder, Anderson executed a stutter-step before he took off down the left sideline past Bradley Roby, allowing Darnold the opportunity to hit him in stride for the touchdown that put the Jets in front to stay 4:14 into the second quarter.
The 35-yard touchdown that extended the Jets' lead to 11 points at halftime saw Anderson run a go route just a step past Roby, who could not prevent the end-zone reception.
"It is what it is. You play a lot of man coverrage, and sometimes they make plays. Sometimes you don't make plays," Roby said. "That's the life of a corner that is always playing man coverage, all the time. It's something [where] I'll just have to go back to the film and get better."
"He's got to play with confidence," Joseph said. "That's part of being an NFL starter -- if they go at you and they make a play or two, you have to go back out there and battle. And if you don't, it looks like that. He has to obviously get better, and we have to help him get better."
Because the Broncos couldn't sustain the ground game
Denver's run game came out roaring, as rookies Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combined for 51 yards on eight carries in the opening period. The Broncos ran on eight of their 14 first-quarter snaps, with 37.5 percent of their runs moving the chains.
After that, success was hard to find. The Broncos' next 11 runs went for 7 yards, as Lindsay and Freeman were consistently met in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage. With the ground game neutralized, the Broncos' offense sputtered, as the Broncos punted on seven of eight possessions from late in the first quarter through the end of the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the Jets went on their 34-3 mid-game ambush that turned the game into a rout.
Because the Jets capitalized on makeable third-down situations early
New York's 21-10 halftime lead was built in part by its success on third down, as the Jets converted four of their six third-down chances in the first half. One of the conversions resulted in the 76-yard Darnold-to-Anderson touchdown.
The Jets' average third-down scenario in the first half saw them needing 4.7 yards, with three of the third downs requiring just 1 yard to reach the line to gain. New York converted all three of those opportunities on the ground.
Because the Broncos could not contain the Jets' pass rush
The Jets used some creative tactics to put pressure on Case Keenum early, bringing him down three times for sacks in the first half. The Jets tacked on another sack in the third quarter for their final tally.
Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams had two of the sacks, including one that saw him delay his rush before he stunted unblocked through the A-gap for a 9-yard loss on a third-and-8 penalty.
The Jets hit Keenum seven times throughout the game.