The Jets can take off their running shoes, there won’t be a playoff race for them this season.
Any talk of a surprise appearance by the Jets in the postseason was silenced with a heartbreaking 35-27 defeat to the Carolina Panthers, Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
With an upset win over the red-hot Panthers, the Jets would have put themselves in a position to play meaningful games in December.
Instead they’ll have another week of what-ifs to sort through as they let another one slip away.
There were a handful of plays in this game which may tempt the Jets to set fire to their film room after watching the video. Head coach Todd Bowles, after the game, described it as “self-inflicted wounds”. None more hurtful than early in the fourth quarter.
With a 20-18 lead, and the football on their own 36-yard line, Jets quarterback Josh McCown was sacked by Panthers’ defensive end Wes Horton. McCown fumbled the football on the sack, Luke Kuechly recovered for Carolina and ran it back for a 34-yard touchdown.
The air went out of MetLife Stadium, and so did the Jets’ slim hopes for the playoffs.
Baltimore, Buffalo, the Los Angeles Chargers, and Miami all came into this week ahead of New York in the standings. For the Jets to snatch one of the AFC wild cards, they knew they’d basically have to win-out the rest of the way.
This loss hurts, arguably more than their lackluster effort two weeks ago against Tampa Bay. The Jets had a week off to stew over that loss. Imagine how this one’s going to feel.
There’s plenty to stew over, especially on the offensive side of the football. With the Jets moving the football well on their opening drive, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins dropped a beautifully thrown end zone throw from McCown. That set the tone for what was ahead.
Bowles was clearly upset after the game, it’s impressive he didn’t throw a chair across the room. That’s how deflating this loss had to have felt.
The Jets were inconsistent on offense again, after their opening drive they seemed determined to put the home crowd to sleep until McCown found Robby Anderson just before halftime for a touchdown.
Anderson finished with six catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He’s evolved from a question mark in training camp to the team’s home run hitter on offense as their top play maker.
But there were also seven penalties committed by the Jets, for 68 yards, more lapses of concentration. It’s the growing pains which comes with a young team learning what it takes to make a playoff run.
Give the Jets credit, the fact they were even in the discussion, this late in the season, shouldn’t be ignored.
It’s the end of November and we were seriously talking about the Jets possibly reaching their first postseason since 2010.
It’s certainly not what most expected going into this season, the Jets were stamped for one of the top picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.
But there’s a fight in this team which has earned the respect of their peers from around the league.
The Panthers came into this week winners of their last three games in a row. Cam Newton is back to looking more like the franchise players everyone expects. Carolina’s now 8-3 and poised to make some noise in the playoffs. But the Jets made them work for every inch in this game.
As for the Jets, now at 4-7, the talk of a rebuilding team can resume. There’s still more to accomplish this season, maybe not for the playoffs but definitely for themselves.