The tension was palpable, in living rooms all across the city, and in those parts of New Jersey that do not bleed blue. Because here was Bill Belichick, seemingly conspiring to interrupt if not ruin
The tension was palpable, in living rooms all across the city, and in those parts of New Jersey that do not bleed blue.
Because here was Bill Belichick, seemingly conspiring to interrupt if not ruin the TANK FOR TREVOR momentum the Jets’ long-suffering fans were enjoying, on their way to 0-16, on their way to Trevor Lawrence, and if the lad were to incomprehensibly pull a Peyton Manning and decide to stay for his senior season at Clemson … well, this was no time to look at the glass as half-empty, was it? Justin Fields is no consolation prize anyway.
So in the hearts and minds of so many Jets fans, this was another MUST-LOSE game, because they all are, and the immediate gratification of saddling Belichick with a fifth straight defeat would pale in comparison to inching one step closer to the top of the NFL draft and — fingers crossed — the long-haired generational quarterback.
The Jets had no excuses to fail to lose and fall to 0-9 for the first time in franchise history: Joe Flacco was their quarterback, and this wasn’t 2012, Adam Gase was matching wits with Belichick, Spygate was presumably no longer a part of the Belichick game plan, Cam Newton was not the one implicated in Deflategate, and the Patriots had swept the series the past four seasons. And Quinnen Williams wasn’t playing. And Mekhi Becton headed to the locker room with a chest injury at the end of the first quarter.
Except it wasn’t MUST LOSE for Joe Flacco, who didn’t care one bit that more than a few Jets fans might be wailing:
TANKS FOR NOTHING!!!
It wasn’t MUST LOSE for Jets players and coaches who have in their DNA — cue Herm Edwards — YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME. And deserve plaudits for trying so hard to thumb their noses at the prospect of historic ignominy.
Then came the fourth quarter.
When the Jets, 30-27 losers, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
When the Jets again refused to win.
When you could almost hear a collective “Whew” from Jets fans rooting for their boys to run the table.
“We just gotta get better at closing it out when we’re right there,” Flacco said.
That fourth quarter:
When Flacco, with a 27-20 lead, went for the jugular and was intercepted at the NE 28 by J.C. Jackson because he overthrew Denzel Mims into double coverage deep down the middle with 5:50 left.
“I don’t think I would have made a different decision in the moment,” Flacco said, “but obviously I wish I had that one back.”
When Newton converted a third-and-20 and plunged in for the 1-yard TD that tied it with 1:57 left.
When Flacco got it back at his 26 and was sacked and went three-and-out.
“Guys’ emotions are running high … to get the ball in the two-minute situation and do nothing with it, that was disappointing,” Flacco said.
When Newton got it back at his 22 with 47 seconds and three timeouts left and positioned ex-Jet Nick Folk for the 51-yard FG as time expired.
When Flacco was kept on the sidelines for 13:42.
“It hurts,” Gase said. “They played their ass off.”
Flacco was magnificent, brought the vertical passing game back armed with speed receivers and looked more like the Super Bowl XLVII MVP than any 35-year-old journeyman backup.
He torched the Pats with 3 TD passes, the third one a 15-yard TD to a wide-open Breshad Perriman that made it Jets 27, Patriots 17 at the end of the third quarter.
“We felt damn good about how we played all night,” Flacco said. “That’s obviously why we’re talking about part of the disappointment is how well we did play and still didn’t end up with a win.”
Flacco hit Perriman in stride for the 50-yard TD that made it Jets 10, Patriots 7. He threw a 20-yard TD pass to Jamison Crowder at the end of the half, when he accumulated 194 of his 262 passing yards.
Where were the ghosts that spooked Darnold last season?
Joey Dimes, after all these years?
“People want me to say no matter what, for sure I’m leaving school, and that’s just not something I’m going to say,” Lawrence said on Monday.
No reason to, might as well wait to find out who the next head coach will be.