Same old Jets try something different: Playing great for three quarters before choking to Pats

NFL: New England Patriots at New York Jets
New England Patriots kicker Nick Folk (6) kicks a game winning field goal against the New York Jets to win 30-27 in the final second of the game at MetLife Stadium.
Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK

Watch enough Jets football in your life, and you can pinpoint exactly when they lose a game.

On Monday night, that moment came when quarterback Joe Flacco, who had an otherwise tremendous game, threw an interception with about six minutes minutes left on the clock, and the Jets up a touchdown on an otherwise lousy, 2-5 New England Patriots team. 

You didn’t need to be Nostradamus to see what was coming — just a long-time follower of this forsaken franchise.

You could see Cam Newton leading the Patriots down field for a game-tying touchdown just under the two minute warning — or Flacco and the Jets going three-and-out with just under a minute left to play —  or Newton moving the chains with three time outs into field goal range with just two seconds on the clock.

And right before the ball was snapped on the final play, you could see the game-winning field goal from ex-Jets, current Patriots kicker Nick Folk splitting the uprights.

To quote the late Dennis Green, the Jets are who we thought they were. At least the MetLife Stadium stands were empty.

Can a 30-27 Monday Night Football loss in a winless season be called soul-crushing? For Jets fans, their football franchise crushed their souls long ago, and so often, that a certain numbness fills the void where joy or anger would be.

The same old Jets are a rudderless embarrassment to professional football in New York. They put up an effort Monday night, which was the first sign of life in weeks from this clearly lost franchise — under the leadership of Adam Gase.

Jets owner Christopher Johnson called him a “brilliant offensive mind” earlier this season. That same “brilliant” mind, according to the Daily News‘ Manish Mehta, apparently called that back-breaking fourth quarter throw by Flacco that wound up in the arms of the Patriots’ J.C. Jackson — setting off the lousy chain of events that followed.

For those of you keeping score at home, Monday’s loss dropped Gase’s Jets record to 7-18 — with all seven wins happening in the 2019 campaign. Meanwhile, these Jets are last or next to last in almost every offensive category.

With brilliance like this, who needs incompetence?

Flacco’s play on Monday was inspired: three touchdowns, 262 yards, a 72% completion rate and a game rating of 128.7. He looked like the Flacco of old who helped lead the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl championship, if for only a night.

Props to Flacco for the effort, and for giving Jets fans some entertaining football for at least 3 ½ quarters — more than they’ve seen in most games this season. 

Effort, however, is no substitute for victory, and the Jets still don’t have a win on the season. It’s reached the point where many fans would rather see them lose the remaining seven contests and lock in the first overall pick, ostensibly for star Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Tanking might be a necessary evil toward turning the Jets’ fortunes around — but it’s not very much fun. 

The question remains, was Monday night the closest the Jets will come to the victory column in 2020? 

They won’t lose this coming Sunday, because it’s their bye week. But they stand a decent chance against the 2-6 Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 22. They’ll also play the 3-5 Patriots in New England to close out the season on Jan. 3.

But between those two games, they have five straight matchups against above-.500 teams: the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 29; the Las Vegas Raiders on Dec. 6; the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 13; the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 20; and the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 27.

At this rate, the first three quarters of Monday night’s debacle might actually be the highlight of the 2020 Jets.

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