Putrid first-half effort relegates Jets to 0-10 as comeback effort falls just short

Chargers Jets Justin Herbert
New York Jets outside linebacker Tarell Basham (93) pressures Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) to force a fumble recovered by the Jets in the first quarter at SoFi Stadium.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Had the New York Jets shown up just a few minutes earlier on Sunday evening, they might not be 0-10 this season.

A difficult first half that saw Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers put up 24 points put the Jets in too large a hole to overcome in a 34-28 loss in Week 11 that saw New York outscore the hosts 20-10 in the second half.

Justin Herbert put up a monster game against the Jets, completing 37-of-49 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Sixteen of those completions came to veteran receiver Keenan Allen — a franchise record — for 145 yards and a touchdown.

While his opposite number, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco, threw for 205 yards on the game, his inability to get rolling in the first half was the reason why the Jets faced a 24-6 halftime deficit, which was a stark turn of events after a good start.

A rejuvenated-looking Jets squad coming off the bye week teased the promise of an upset at the very start when Henry Anderson blocked Tyler Long’s punt attempt deep in Chargers territory.

After the Jets recovered on their own 29-yard-line, La’Mical Perine scored from five yards out to give the Jets a 6-0 lead.

They got a break on Los Angeles’ ensuing drive when Allen fumbled at the Jets’ 1-yard-line, recovered by New York safety Ashtyn Davis to gain further momentum.

But it all disappeared on the very next play when Flacco’s screen pass from the 4-yard-line was intercepted by Tevaughn Campbell, who only needed a few steps to score an easy touchdown and put the Chargers up by one with three minutes left in the first.

Los Angeles seized control with the swing with Herbert pairing up with Mike Williams for a 39-yard score early in the second quarter.

The Jets’ deficit grew to 21 just four minutes later when Herbert lasered a two-yard score to tight end, Hunter Henry, shortly after a 54-yard connection to Tyron Johnson.

It was a barnstorming start for the Chargers’ rookie out of Oregon, completing 18-of-20 passes for 214 yards. Meanwhile, Flacco did not have a single passing yard with 10 minutes left in the first half. His first completion came with 9:25 to go in the second quarter, connecting with tight end Chris Herndon for 26 yards.

He finished the first half with 30 total passing yards on 3-of-8 passing compared to the 277 yards put up by Herbert, the most by a rookie quarterback in one half since 1991.

The Jets’ fortunes on opening possessions carried over to the second half — sparking New York’s most successful offensive spell of the day. Flacco and the offense unleashed a seven-play, 74-yard drive in 3:33 ending with a 49-yard pass to Breshad Perrimento pull within 11 and 24-13.

After Herbert picked up his third touchdown pass of the day — a 13-yard connection to Keenan Allen — Flacco and the Jets recorded a touchdown on a second-straight touchdown capped off by Frank Gore’s one-yard rush. The veteran running back has now scored a touchdown in three different decades.

Much of the 75-yard drive was fueled by rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims, who made a difficult 36-yard reception in tight coverage before drawing a 19-yard pass-interference penalty.

The Jets continued to take advantage of the Chargers’ reputational late-game struggles and pulled to within eight with four minutes remaining when Flacco hit Herndon from six yards out.

After a Chargers punt, the Jets’ pursuit of a tying score was immediately fueled by a Joey Bosa roughing-the-passer penalty — his second such infraction of the game — for hitting Flacco low around the knees.

The penalty brought the Jets to Los Angeles’ 32-yard-line, but that was as close as they’d get with a turnover-on-downs securing the Jets’ 10th-straight loss of 2020.