As the Jets’ season spiraled out of control over the last month, the Jets continually reminded themselves that the window to the playoffs remained open. Today their slim hopes were dashed with the Ravens’ 27-7 win over the Jaguars which concluded minutes before the Jets fell to the Dolphins 24-17. The defeat capped a stunning fall for the Jets, who rested comfortably at 8-3 in late November after a victory over the previously undefeated Titans.

The defeat will surely go down as one of the darkest days for a franchise that has now gone 40 years since it last tasted an NFL title. The Jets traded for future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre in August, they spent nearly $140 million on free agent acquistions but it was the same quarterback they shoved out the door during training camp that closed the book on the Jets’ nightmare. Chad Pennington (22-of-30, 200 yards, two TD) outplayed Favre (20-of-40, 233 yards, one TD, three INT) and orchestrated the Dolphins to an improbable division title. The loss was again the same sad story for Favre and the Jets, who displayed promise but ultimately failed.

When the Jets completed the quarterback swap of Pennington for Favre in early August, they knew they had grabbed a leader with a rocket arm and nose for the end zone. Favre displayed those attributes in a season-opening win over the Dolphins as he threw a 56-yard missile to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery for a touchdown. However, his play deteriorated over the final five weeks (1-4 record) as he threw two touchdown passes and nine interceptions. His poor decision-making crippled the offense as he threw a league-high 22 interceptions. For a 39-year old quarterback with over 9,000 passing attempts in a Hall of Fame career, the balls that once traveled like rockets soon sailed like wounded ducks. Favre explained today that there remained “unfinished business” for his stint with the Jets and the Jets carry a lot of “potential,” but that potential translated into nothing more than a 9-7 record and no playoff ticket. As Favre stood at the podium battered and defeated today, he made no excuses.

“Down the strech, it wasn’t good enough. I have no excuses. I would love to sit here and tell you that it was this and it was that, but I’m not going to do that,” Favre said. “Bottom line is it wasn’t good enough.”

For a franchise that has too often dealt with its share of collapses, the outcome was certainly not good enough. The Jets possessed a roster which led the league with seven Pro-Bowlers but could do nothing with it. Offensive tackle Damien Woody explained that the self-described “meltdown” was “hard to swallow.” Most players were left baffled at their lockers by the collapse.

“We’ll sit back and reflect on this season, and still may not know what was going on,” safety Kerry Rhodes said. “We didn’t get it done today and we’ll be at home watching the playoffs next week.”

Cornerback Darrelle Revis added, “In the NFL you go through the ups and downs and you have to keep working. It’s sad that we couldn’t pull it out. We could have stopped this a long time ago by clinching the playoffs like other teams did.”

As the Dolphins walked off champions and the solemn Meadowlands crowd cleared out, Eric Mangini  trotted off for possibly the final time as head coach of the Jets. Mangini has one year remaining on a four-year contract but a 23-25 record and just one playoff berth in three seasons may spell the end for the man formerly known as “Mangenuis.” After the Jets delivered another uninspiring performance, Mangini explained that he is anticipating on returning for next season but that he has not discussed his job status with Jets hierarchy during the season.

Following today’s loss owner Woody Johnson said that he is “extremely disappointed” with the way the season concluded, and that Mangini would be evaluated later in the week.

“We’ll look at the team and just try to diagnose,” Johnson said. “Obviously we want to go further than win nine games.”

Not a ringing endorsement to say the least.

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