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

Friday - 11/23/2012, 3:09pm  ET

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Sports Writer

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.

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