EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The calamity emerged in small bits -- an interception here, a fumble there, a spattering of boos, a classless prison-yard play along the sideline -- and before you knew it, the beginning of a panoramic view that is another possible Jets collapse was in full bloom.
This is what the Jets do to their fans. They don't disappoint in one fell swoop. They rip out souls piece by piece, like a type of misery Morse code.
The latest came against Miami in a 10-6 loss on Sunday at the New Meadowlands Stadium that will stand as an epic piece of Jets buffoonery.
The finger-pointing will start with Mark Sanchez. It was, by far, one of the worst games a quarterback has played this season. One pass was intercepted, and three more should've been picked off but were dropped by Miami defenders. And there were two fumbles on sacks. He finished with a Ryan Leaf-like 45.3 passer rating.
"This was clearly not on one man," coach Rex Ryan said.
This was about New York's entire offense, to be sure. There were at least six drops by receivers, including a horrendous one in the end zone by a wide-open Santonio Holmes. He makes that catch, and the Jets probably win.
The line didn't block. The running game didn't click. The Jets' coaches were outdueled by Miami's. The Jets offense has now gone nine consecutive games without a first-quarter touchdown, and it appears the Jets are front-runners. When things go well, they're fine. But if the team starts off slowly, they lose some intestinal fortitude.
"We thought that if we got out in front of them, it takes something out of them," Miami's Brandon Marshall said. "We are not going to call them front-runners, but we noticed that when you hit them in the mouth fast, they tend to be the ones getting off the ground second."
If what was happening on the field wasn't bad enough for the Jets, what occurred in one play off the field was utterly disgusting. When Miami's Nolan Carroll was running down the field on punt coverage, cruising alongside the Jets sideline, replays showed he was purposely tripped by Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi.
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The Jets said they are reviewing the incident, but Alosi is all but fired. If some on the Dolphins had their way, Alosi would be the strength and conditioning coach at Sing Sing.
In all, this was the Jets' day -- from bad to worse to mortifying to something from The Longest Yard.
The Jets' record says they're 9-4, but in some ways the record is irrelevant. What's more important, for the moment, is history and the ghosts of Jets past. The team's timeline contains epic collapses, and it appears New York could be headed for another.
They were destroyed by the New England Patriots, lost to a horrible Miami team and have remaining games at Pittsburgh, at Chicago and home against Buffalo. The Steelers and Bears are obviously tough, but the Bills are no patsies, either.
Keep all Jets fans away from sharp objects and strap them down, because the final few weeks have the potential to be brutal.
"We have plenty of talent, but have to find a way to get it done," Ryan said.
The Dolphins had only 55 yards passing and still won, which is remarkable in today's NFL. Tom Brady can throw for 55 yards while eating a ham sandwich and driving a supermodel home.
Ryan is brutally honest, sometimes to a fault. Ryan said after the game he almost benched Sanchez late in the third quarter, which is a stunning admission.
"I considered it, but when you look at it, I think he gives us the best chance to win," Ryan explained. " ... I thought about it, and I was like, 'Nah, it's not the kid's fault.' He's not the only one to blame here. If I thought that was the case, I would've yanked him."
Ryan buried the game ball after the Jets were atomized by the Patriots. What does Ryan bury now after the Dolphins game? A replica of Flipper?
Jets fans are hoping their team isn't about to bury another promising season.