For the better part of two decades, the Jets bided their time and tried to wait out the Patriots. Year after year, the Pats would go 14-2 or 13-3 or some such tribute to gaudy dominance. Year after
For the better part of two decades, the Jets bided their time and tried to wait out the Patriots. Year after year, the Pats would go 14-2 or 13-3 or some such tribute to gaudy dominance. Year after year, the Jets would collect a substantially lesser record. The Jets growled occasionally. The Pats never much minded.
“Someday,” Jets fans said.
“The Pats won’t be the Pats forever,” they reasoned.
“Their time is coming,” they figured.
And here we are: the Patriots lost in Buffalo on Sunday when Cam Newton did the very thing so many AFC East opponents have done in their shadow the last 20 years: he made a losing play when the game was there to be won. He fumbled late in the fourth quarter with the Pats driving for a winning TD, already in range to send the game to OT with a field goal.
It was the Pats’ fourth loss in a row. They are in a free fall. They have a quarterback, Newton, who looks well past his expiration date. The man in the hood, Bill Belichick, looks a little befuddled how to stop all of this. Their time has come!
And the Jets are 0-8.
So the Pats’ time came at a time when the Jets can’t possibly enjoy it. They got flattened by the Chiefs, 35-9, on a day when Andy Reid took mercy on their souls and pulled all of his first-stringers when there was still plenty of time to have more fun. The Jets entered as 19 ½-point underdogs and it never felt like they were in any real danger of covering the spread.
“I’m doing this to win,” Jets’ coach Adam Gase said, “I’m not trying to get my face stomped in.”
There were 53 stomped-in faces on the field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. The Jets actually had three nice, sustained drives in the first half, resulting in three field goals. The Chiefs had three nice drives in the first half, resulting in three touchdowns. That is not a winning formula against any team; against the Chiefs it’s suicide.
“We knew what kind of game it was going to be,” Gase said, and the way that 21-9 halftime Chiefs lead was secured it was like a tribute to Jimmy Malone, one of the great characters in the canon of Sean Connery, who died Saturday.
In explaining “the Chicago way” to Elliot Ness in “The Untouchables” Malone said: “He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.”
The Jets brought a knife to a gunfight and inevitably wound up on a gurney in a drawer. No surprise there. They are 0-8 on merit. There hasn’t been a whole lot of ambiguity to any of it. It is the second time in their history they start 0-8. The other time, 1996, they traveled to Phoenix in Week 9, and they beat the Cardinals 31-21.
That’s where their old friends from Foxboro come into the picture. The last time the Pats seemed this vulnerable was 2000, Belichick’s first year, when they were 5-11. The Jets have had a better record than the Pats exactly one time in the ensuing 20 years, 2002. They will not finish with a better record than them this year.
But there may be no better opportunity for the Jets to win a game this year than next Monday, when the Pats limp into MetLife Stadium. Now, it is entirely possible that you, as a Jets fan, would prefer the Pats bring their ghosts to Jersey and let them haunt Sam Darnold, keep the left side of the Jets’ hyphen clean, do their part to nudge the Jets along to 0-16.
But if the idea of 0-16 disgusts you in any way … well, this really may be it. There are a couple of losing teams ahead for the Jets — the Bengals and the Chargers — but raise your hand if you don’t think Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert don’t enjoy sweet dreams every night knowing they’ll be able to take aim at the Jets’ miserable defense some Sunday soon.
No. Next week is it. Next week is the time. There may be nobody in their right mind outside of friends and family who would possibly want to watch that game litter prime time a week from Monday, but they’ll play the game. The worst Pats team in recent memory versus what might be the worst football team in anyone’s memory.
It may approximate football in hell. But 0-8 Jets teams are known to be historically invincible in Week 9.