Jets smacked back to reality after getting overpowered by Cowboys

NEW YORK -- Talk about a big letdown in Big D.

The New York Jets headed home from Dallas disappointed after being dominated just four days after pulling off an upset victory.

"We didn't make much of a statement," tight end Chris Baker said after the 34-3 loss Thursday. "We have to move on from this. They're the class of the NFC. What else can you say?"

That pretty much says it all. Playing at Dallas on Thanksgiving in front of a national audience, the Jets were hardly competition for the NFC East-leading Cowboys.

"It's embarrassing to lose 34-3 anytime," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "It makes it worse that everyone was watching."

During the couple of days leading to the game, the Jets were riding high from their 19-16 overtime upset of Pittsburgh. New York was hoping to use the momentum to possibly pull off a second improbable victory in less than a week. Instead, the result was predictably lopsided as the Cowboys overpowered the Jets and sent them to a 2-9 record.

"It was a tale of two teams," coach Eric Mangini said. "When you play a team like the Cowboys and then have the execution like we did, the result is going to be like it was today. To beat a team like that, we had to play our best football. And it was obvious we didn't play our best football."

Kellen Clemens was sacked on each of his first two series and New York didn't cross midfield until its final drive of the second quarter. The Jets also failed to get a first down in the second half until there was 5:19 left.

"There were opportunities we had that we didn't take advantage of," said Clemens, who was 12-of-27 for 142 yards in his fourth NFL start. "It's frustrating. It's hard not to be after what we did. We got beat pretty soundly."

After running for 117 yards against the top-ranked rushing defense of the Steelers, Thomas Jones was held to 40 yards on 17 carries by the equally stout Cowboys. The running game was only part of the problem as the Jets mustered only 180 yards of total offense.

"We were pretty confident coming in," Baker said. "Everyone felt we had a chance to win. We didn't execute on offense. I don't think anyone felt like we were overmatched coming in. It was the worst game we played on offense this year."

Leon Washington, who leads the league in kick returns, fumbled the kickoff after the Cowboys scored on the game's opening drive. It served as a sign of how the game would unfold, even though Rhodes intercepted Tony Romo shortly after the miscue.

Terence Newman's interception of Clemens in the second quarter punctuated things by putting the Jets in a 21-0 hole.

"It was a very difficult game to get into any sort of rhythm," Clemens said. "Their front seven did a great job keeping me in the pocket. I didn't play good enough to put our team in a position to win the game."

The defense was hardly without fault, though. After the Jets shut down Ben Roethlisberger and running back Willie Parker on Sunday, Romo & Co. had a relatively easy time against them.

Romo was 21-of-28 for 195 yards while beating the Jets on throws underneath the coverage time and again. Terrell Owens had six catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, Jason Witten caught four passes for 54 yards and a TD, while Marion Barber ran for 103 yards and a score.

"We wanted to make them dink and dunk down the field," Rhodes said. "We wanted to control Owens and Witten, and we did a good job of it the first part of the game."

It wasn't nearly enough. Not against a team that's 10-1 and has lost only to undefeated New England. The Jets, meanwhile, have a few extra days to prepare for their upcoming game at Miami on Dec. 2.

"I didn't think we could play this bad," Rhodes said. "We can't make excuses. They outworked us and outperformed us."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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