If you didn’t know what the life of a Jets fan was like, you learned first hand this past Sunday.
The New York Jets, after being 5-5 and giving the impression 2015 was going to be another lost season, improbably won five straight games and all that was needed to make the playoffs was a win over arch nemesis Rex Ryan.
It felt as if the Jets were destined for the postseason. Ryan Fitzpatrick had the most prolific season of any quarterback in the franchise’s history, Brandon Marshall had the best season of any Jets receiver ever, and the combination of Eric Decker and Marshall surpassed the duo of Randy Moss and Cris Carter from the 1998 Vikings as statistically, the best wide receiver duo in NFL history.
The trend of first-year Jets coaches making the playoffs was going to continue for Todd Bowles, just like Herm Edwards in 2001, Eric Mangini in 2006, and Rex Ryan in 2009.
But just when you thought the Jets had it in the bag, they let it all slip away in the most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching fashion you could imagine. Heck, not even an evil film director could inflict that amount of suffering on a Jets fan.
Not much was going right for the Jets in the first half, and it didn’t get much better until mid-way through the 3rd quarter. That was when the Jets got within 2 points of Buffalo when Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Eric Decker for a touchdown with 1:10 to go.
The Jets defense then did what they had to do and forced a three-and-out. It appeared as if the Jets were poised to take the lead when Fitzpatrick connected with Decker again to set up 1st and 10 from the Buffalo 14 down by just two. All the Jets had to do was not turn it over and they were going to take the lead.
Two plays later, Fitzpatrick was picked in the end zone by Leodis McKelvin as he attempted to force a ball to Decker. Drive over, chance to take the lead, over. McKelvin’s interception was the first time all season Fitzpatrick was intercepted when targeting Decker, and he couldn’t have picked a worse time.
Buffalo would tack on a field goal to make the score 22-17. On the ensuing drive, Fitzpatrick was picked for the second time, this time by Manny Lawson. Once again though, the Jets would get the ball back.
With 24 seconds left and the ball on the Jets 27-yard line, Fitzpatrick threw a pass deep down the right sideline to a wide open Kenbrell Thompkins, but Bills DB Mario Butler just got enough of a hit on Thompkins to knock the ball out of his hands for an incomplete pass. Thompkins was so open, if he had just held on, he was going to score to give the Jets the lead. It would have been too perfect.
On the very next play, Fitzpatrick was picked for the third time in the quarter by A.J. Tarpley to end it. Ball game over, season over, playoff dreams over. Just like that.
What was so painful about this loss was it wasn’t like the Jets were outplayed, outcoached, or didn’t give the necessary effort. They were actually the better team in the second half and had every chance in the world to win, but the mistakes became too much to overcome.
If you’ve paid any attention to the Jets over the past 40 years or so, losses like this have become the norm. You convince yourself this year or this game is going to be different, everything points in that direction, and then the unthinkable happens. Call it what you want. Same Old Jets, Lovable losers, choke artists, each one of those probably fits the description of the Jets to a tee.
But you better believe the Jets will be back, and when the stars align and the Jets finally win the Super Bowl, it’s going to be epic.