Jets end Gase, possibly Darnold era with loss to Patriots

Cam Newton Jets
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) congratulates running back James White (28) after his touchdown as New York Jets cornerback Bryce Hall (37) looks on during the first half at Gillette Stadium.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

That’s more like it.

The New York Jets ended their 2020 season in familiar fashion, collapsing in the second half in a 28-14 loss to the New England Patriots to finish at 2-14.

With zero postseason implications on the line, it was a game that looked as though it featured many finalities. Jets head coach Adam Gase will be shown the door in the hours after the season ended while quarterback Sam Darnold, who passed for a season-high 266 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, could very well have played his final game with the team that drafted him third overall just three years ago.

Another Darnold lackluster effort was overshadowed by Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, who will be playing elsewhere in 2021. The veteran quarterback passed for three touchdowns and caught another one, ending on a positive note after the Patriots failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Newton started his final game as a Patriot in barnstorming fashion, ripping off a 49-yard run through the heart of the Jets defense to set up a touchdown on the game’s opening drive — a seven-yard pass to James White. The nearly-50-yard rumble was the longest run by a quarterback in Patriots franchise history.

It was all the fun both offenses would get to experience as both teams punted a combined six-straight times, but the Jets would find an equalizer with 1:40 remaining in the first half when Darnold hit tight end, Chris Herndon, for a 21-yard touchdown. It was made possible by the tip-toeing catch of Jamison Crowder on the play earlier, stealing a 12-yard completion on the right sideline from Patriots defensive back, Myles Bryant, who was waiting alone for the Darnold throw that looked destined to get intercepted.

The Jets took the lead on their first possession of the second half when Josh Adams pounded home a one-yard rush to finish off a six-play, 75-yard drive. Darnold’s arm got the Jets in scoring position, connecting with Brashad Perriman for 53 yards.

In a desperate attempt to get their offense going, the Patriots dipped into their bag of tricks for a spark — and it worked. On a reverse, wide receiver Jakobi Meyers pulled up and hit a wide-open Newton down the right sideline for a 19-yard score to tie things up with 2:22 remaining in the third.

Darnold only helped to fuel New England momentum when he was intercepted on the Jets’ ensuing drive, getting the Patriots possession in New York territory. Four plays later, they were in the end zone after Newton hit Devin Asiasi for a 26-yard score to take the lead a minute into the fourth quarter. They doubled their lead to 14 when Newton connected with running back Sony Michel for a 31-yard score less than three minutes later.

The Jets’ once-perceived franchise passer was picked off again trying to go deep for Perriman with 3:49 to go in the game, only adding more disappointment to what very well could be his final game for Gang Green.

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