East Rutherford, NJ – The New York Jets can’t turn their luck around as they lost to the Carolina Panthers, 35-27. This loss is their sixth out of the last seven games.
The Jets played well all around in the first quarter. They limited the Panthers to 69 total yards in the first, holding Cam Newton to 50 passing yards and Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Stewart, and Newton to 19 rushing yards. The Panthers did manage to kick a field goal to take a 3-0 lead on their first drive, but the Jets responded. They moved the ball through the air, first with Jermaine Kearse for 17 yards and then Robby Anderson for 20 yards. They ended the drive with a 31-yard field goal and tied the game at 3 heading into the second quarter.
Carolina broke the barrier around the end zones first. Newton rolled out to the left, shedding of a tackle on the way to the end zone. Graham Gano missed the extra point, but the Panthers’ went back out front, 9-3. They extended their lead to 12-3 with a 33-yard field goal with a little over four minutes to go in the half. It wasn’t long before the Jets scored their first touchdown of the game. Josh McCown found Anderson deep down the right side of the field for a 33-yard touchdown, closing the gap to 2 with the extra point heading into halftime.
The defense continued their stellar play into the third quarter, forcing the Panthers to go three-and-out on their first two drives of the second half. They gave the offense the opportunity to take the lead, and that’s what the Jets did. McCown rolled out to the right and waited for Anderson to get open down the field for his second touchdown of the game. The play was reviewed to see if Anderson went out of bounds then came in, but he didn’t and the ruling was upheld. The extra point gave New York their first lead, 17-12. Even though it wasn’t the initial play, Anderson won’t complain about it.
“It was a scramble drill so I was trying to get in sync with [McCown], but he sent me up the sideline,” he said. “I had to keep my heels up because I was close (to the sideline). I was expecting him to throw a toe tap, but he directed me up the sideline so that was all on him, just trusting him, putting me in the best position to win.”
Carolina responded the following drive with Stewart running into the end zone for a touchdown. The Panthers tried to go for two, but failed to convert. They took the lead back, 18-17 before heading into the fourth quarter.
Any Jets fan would know throughout 2017, the fourth quarter hasn’t been kind to the team. Today’s game was no different as New York struggled to put the game away.
“Self-inflicted wounds,” head coach Todd Bowles said. “You can’t play three quarters of good and (then) give away two touchdowns. Obviously, we lose our patience. Everybody is trying to make a play individually and we don’t play team football in the fourth quarter. We gave away the football.”
Their next drive after the Panther’s touchdown went all the way to Carolina’s one-yard-line. New York thought they scored a touchdown when McCown threw to Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the end zone, but replay officials overruled the touchdown as an incomplete pass, forcing the Jets to settle for a field goal. Soon, mental errors plagued the Jets, as McCown fumbled the ball and Luke Kuechly returned it for a touchdown. Carolina converts the two-point conversion and retakes the lead, 26-20. Then the mental errors happened on special teams as Kaelin Clay returned a punt for a touchdown, pushing the Panthers further out front, 32-20. McCown redeemed himself on the Jets’ second-to-last drive of the game, finding Kearse in the end zone for a touchdown to bring New York within five.
The Jets held the Panthers to 3rd and 11 just before the two-minute warning, and forced Newton to overthrow his receiver, but a roughing-the-passer penalty on Mike Pennel on the play gave an extra set of downs to Carolina, sealing the victory for them, 35-27.
“It was roughing the passer,” Pennel said. “The refs called it a crucial time in the game. Can’t have it. It’s horrible but your job is to play the game.”
With the loss, the jets drop to 4-7 and host the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday. Meanwhile, the Panthers improve to 8-3 and will visit the New Orleans Saints in a battle for the NFC South division. Here are some takeaways from the game.
- Jets players must think they’re playing hockey instead of football. A football game has four quarters, not three periods like hockey. As Bowles said, the team needs to get better in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, this team won’t win many games
- We know the Jets defense is solid, and this game only proved that. Only four other teams held Newton to under 200 yards passing this season (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, and Atlanta Falcons) and the Jets just became the fifth. The strength of this team is in the defense.
- On the flip side of the coin is the weakness of the Jets, which is the offense. McCown played well, going 19 for 36 for 303 yards and three touchdowns, but there were times he should’ve been picked off. The running game is another issue as neither Matt Forte, Bilal Powell, nor Elijah McGuire ran for over 50 yards. In addition, there were times where receivers dropped wide-open passes in the end zone, like Seferian-Jenkins on the first drive of the game. Moving forward, these issues will have to be addressed if the Jets want to salvage anything of this season.
- Anderson had a great game. He caught six passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns and campaigned for the Pro Bowl following his second touchdown reception, which Bowles wasn’t happy about. I’m not sure he’s Pro Bowl-calibre, but his performance today proved he can be a reliable target moving forward.
- Penalties continue to plague the Jets this season. Against the Panthers, they had seven penalties for 68 yards. While compared to Carolina’s 10 penalties for 84 yards it may seem minimal, the penalties the Jets cause happened at key moments in the game, such as Pennel’s roughing-the-passer penalty or Jordan Jenkins’ offside penalty on 4th and four. Until the Jets become more disciplined, penalties will continue to create problems for them.
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