Are you really so committed to the cause, so tied to the tank, that this didn’t bother you? Have you really shut off all your feelings, all your emotions, all your stored-up resentment of the New
Are you really so committed to the cause, so tied to the tank, that this didn’t bother you? Have you really shut off all your feelings, all your emotions, all your stored-up resentment of the New England Patriots, of Bill Belichick, that this loss — this 30-27 loss, the most Jetsian of Jets losses, an SOJ Special — didn’t keep you awake a little last night?
If so … well, as they say, God bless.
Because this is, in almost every way, the kind of loss that, under normal circumstances, makes you question the very notion of caring about sports. This is the kind of defeat that tears you up inside if you bleed green, the kind of tease, the kind of taunt, that goes the other way at the last second — literally, the last second — and leaves you nauseous.
The Jets were up 20-10 at the half. They were up 27-17 in the fourth quarter. They had the game in their hands — or, more specifically, in the veteran hands of Joe Flacco. Joe Cool had played a terrific game for the first 3 ½ quarters. He’d thrown three TD passes. He’d become a hero in Jacksonville, Fla., where the Jaguars — the Jets’ chief competition for the No. 1-overall draft pick — reside.
“I felt good all night,” he would say.
Then, he must have looked around. Must have looked up at the vast expanse of MetLife Stadium, where so much Jets ineptitude has played out over its first decade of life. Must have taken a good, long look at his green vestments.
And thought to himself: How can I best fit in around here?
Rather than melt the clock with a seven-point lead, with just over six minutes left in the game, I can throw a ball up for grabs into double-coverage deep over the middle, after both teams had spent all night doing their best to play running time (much to the relief of a grateful nation). The Pats may not be very good this year, but they are still stocked with players who can make winning plays if you insist. J.C. Jackson intercepted it.
With the ball back in my hands after the Pats inevitably tied the game just after the two-minute warning, with the Pats seemingly willing to take their chances at overtime, I can take a gruesome sack on second down, then throw the ball away on third, the two biggest reasons there was just enough time for Nick Folk to boot the game-winning field goal from 51 yards away.
“There were lots of emotions in the locker room, guys fighting really hard to go out and get wins,” said Flacco who was 18-for-25 for 262 yards before turtling up at the end. “We want to do it for each other and we haven’t been able to do it. We haven’t been in these situations a lot and we have to get better at closing out when we’re right there.”
Again: maybe you are grateful to Flacco for doing all of this, and just in the nick of time. Maybe you are so dead inside as a fan that you truly do embrace 0-16, and Trevor Lawrence, and maybe, five years from now, you’ll look back fondly at all of this. Maybe you believe Belichick left the Meadowlands furious, that his six-dimensional chess game hoping to deprive the Jets of Lawrence didn’t work, and that makes you smile.
If so, good for you. I guess.
(Although, even in a lost year, it had to be a wee bit infuriating afterward hearing the ghost of Rich Kotite clear his throat and invade the voice box of Adam Gase, as Gase said — no lie — “They battled … they gave it all they had … we made a few mistakes that cost us the game …” which was like a Led Zeppelin tribute band playing the first few notes of “Stairway to Heaven.”)
“We keep not finding ways,” Gase said, “to win.”
So it is 0-9 now, and for the first time the Jets snuck in an old-school heartbreak to mix things up, and you feel … what? Relief? Disappointment? Both? Neither? In an odd season all the way around, this has to be the weirdest night of all.
“We felt good about how we played all night,” Flacco said, and the strange thing is, for a lot of Jets fans, it was the ending that made the most sense and offered the greater reward. Even against the Pats. Even against Belichick. 2020, man. 2020.