Mighty Fall Challenges Jets to an Uplifting Finish

Miami hosted undefeated Chicago that Monday night. Ryan was a ball boy for the Bears as his father, Buddy, coordinated of one of the most feared defenses in history. But not in that game. The scored 31 points by halftime and walloped the Bears, 38-24.

The loss registered as a blip in for the Bears, who won their next six games, including the championship against New England. Their Monday night meltdown served as a catalyst for their famous shuffle.

“I hope history repeats itself,” Ryan said Tuesday. “The goal of the Bears was to win the Super Bowl. And that’s our goal. Whether people like it or not, I really don’t care.”

Ryan is not suggesting his current defense compares to that of the 1985 Bears, a unit often cited among the best in league history, especially after the on Monday night. He is instead noting the parallels: the biggest of big games, late in the season, on the road, on national television, ending in complete embarrassment.

Those Bears and these have that in common.

“We stunk up the joint on defense, we stunk up the joint on offense, we were probably worse on coaching,” Ryan said. “It was a bad game.”

Ryan arrived at the Jets’ facility early Tuesday morning still at a loss to explain how his team played its worst game at the worst possible moment. Ryan went straight to work. Counterfeit contenders? He would show them.

In nearly two seasons under Ryan, the Jets have proved themselves nothing if not resilient. His first season nearly ended in a collapse all too familiar to the fan base, but the Jets, with help from the schedule, sneaked into the playoffs and advanced to the A.F.C. championship game.

This season, the Jets (9-3) have won three times for every game they have lost. But in four contests against teams with winning records, they have fallen three times, including 45-3 to the . Now, Ryan stares at another career-defining stretch.

For months, he praised his players, finding on his roster the league’s best cornerback (Darrelle Revis), best center (Nick Mangold) and best play-making wide receiver (Santonio Holmes), among many, many other proclaimed bests, including even the best backup tackle (Wayne Hunter). He positioned the Jets as villains, heels, and with every victory, with every boast and every best, he heightened their potential fall.

Now, he must prove that his words were more than that, more than a misguided belief in the talent on his team. He must prove that these Jets are not the Jets of 2008, or 2000, or 1997. Their response will serve as a referendum on his philosophy, and on his highly praised coaching and motivational skills.

Inside a relatively subdued locker room on Monday night, linebacker Bart Scott acknowledged that a large segment of the N.F.L. probably enjoyed watching the Jets consume crow. If the Patriots had run the score up, what did it matter? The blustery Jets had answered, atypically, with silence.

“Frankly, we don’t care,” Scott said. “We are who we are. We just lost a huge game that would have set us up, but this is a group with wide shoulders. I’m not going to flinch. We’re not going to flinch.”

Added fullback Tony Richardson: “If you put yourself out there, and you’re not able to back it up, people can say whatever they want about you.”

The final quarter of the schedule affords the Jets an opportunity for redemption as well as collapse. Their choice. They host Miami on Sunday, then travel to Pittsburgh and Chicago on consecutive weekends, three tough games, three weeks in a row. They end the season by hosting Buffalo.

They entered their game against the Patriots tied for the conference’s top playoff seed and exited Foxborough, Mass., in Position No. 5, with Baltimore, a team that topped the Jets in the season opener, only a game behind. Of course, New England (10-2), despite its blowout victory, sits only a game ahead. Such is the wacky world of N.F.L., where standings shift drastically each week, this year in particular.

As Ryan noted, as the Chicago Bears proved in 1985, one game does not a season make. Even one as embarrassing as the game the Jets last played.

“That’s the best thing about it,” wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said Monday. “We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves. If we want to prove the type of team we are, if we want to back up all our talk, there’s still time, against good teams, to do that.”

Bears’ Defense Overwhelms Ailing Dolphins in Shutout

Miami’s already depleted offense lost the Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to a hamstring injury and center Cory Procter because of a left knee injury. With the third-string quarterback Tyler Thigpen struggling in his first start since 2008, the Dolphins (5-5) were no match for a Bears defense that took over the league lead in points allowed per game.

The Bears (7-3) won for the third time in 12 days and moved a half-game ahead of atop the N.F.C. North.

SCHAUB EXPECTS TO PLAY quarterback Matt Schaub is back with the team after he was hospitalized with an injury to the bursa sac in his right knee.

Schaub practiced Thursday, and Coach Gary Kubiak said he expected his No. 1 quarterback to start when the Texans visit the Jets on Sunday.

Kubiak said Schaub took about half the first-team snaps Thursday. The only way Schaub will not start is if he has a setback.

“Everything is pointing in the right direction,” Kubiak said.

Schaub said his knee has been bothering him most of the season. He said the pain increased Tuesday morning, and he checked into a local hospital and stayed overnight. He said the knee did not bother him during Thursday’s workout.

GOING BEYOND THIRD STRING Brian St. Pierre has thrown five passes in eight N.F.L. seasons. He was not in a training camp this summer, and as recently as last week was a stay-at-home dad.

On Sunday, he will start for the .

A season of multiple injuries and one victory took an even stranger twist when Coach John Fox picked St. Pierre, 30, over the rookie Tony Pike to play against Baltimore.

That is good enough to start for Carolina, which has no healthy, experienced quarterback.

The rookie Jimmy Clausen missed practice again Thursday with a concussion sustained Sunday against Tampa Bay. Matt Moore was lost to a season-ending shoulder injury last week.

Enter St. Pierre, who since becoming a fifth-round pick of Pittsburgh in 2003 is 2 of 5 for 12 yards, a touchdown and an interception with three teams.

St. Pierre, who last practiced in January as he finished a stint with Arizona, was spending his days taking care of his 18-month-old son in the Boston area. He was signed to the practice squad Friday and promoted to the active roster Tuesday.

GIANTS THIN AT TACKLE The Giants are uncertain who will play left tackle Sunday with Shawn Andrews sitting out a second consecutive practice with soreness in his back. Andrews had started at left tackle the past two games in place of the injured David Diehl.

“He’s being treated, and hopefully he’ll be a little better today and a little better tomorrow,” Coach said of Andrews, whose status is day-to-day. “He has had a stiff, sore back before, so this is what we’re dealing with right now.”

MARK VIERA ’ SECONDARY HOBBLED The Washington Redskins could be without half of their starting defensive backfield when they face the on Sunday.

Carlos Rogers said his right hamstring was sore after hurting it Monday against Philadelphia, and safety LaRon Landry has a sore Achilles’ tendon that has limited him in practice for weeks. (AP)