By Ernie Palladino
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For all the bad that happened as the Jets fell to 1-8 Sunday in Kansas City, the worst came inside the final two minutes.
They just quit.
Make no mistake, the Jets were going to lose this game anyway. They went into that segment with no timeouts left, having burned two in the third quarter when the defense got its personnel mixed up and Michael Vick couldn’t beat the play clock, and their third with 2:41 left in the game.
Down 24-10, there was no way the Jets were going to avoid their eighth straight loss. But that doesn’t excuse them from giving up. Real teams continue to play to the end.
The Jets packed it in. And the fault for that lies not only with the players on the field, but with Rex Ryan and his offensive mind, Marty Mornhinweg. The final two minutes, when only the slimmest of slim hopes remained to score two touchdowns and miraculously force another mess of a game into overtime, will go as yet one more reason for Woody Johnson to clean house once this fourth straight non-winning season (at its pie-in-the-sky best) ends.
When he gets to this game, after dealing with San Diego, Buffalo, and any other embarrassment of his choosing, Johnson may well want to ask about the lack of urgency Michael Vick’s offense exhibited in that final possession. They indeed ran a no-huddle, but both Vick’s organization of the on-field personnel and the play calling showed that the Jets were more intent on getting back on the plane than perhaps scoring a quick touchdown and chasing after an onside kick.
Save for a deep throw to Greg Salas from the Chiefs’ 21 on the very last play of the game, Vick was thinking slow and short. They lined up, seemingly taking forever to get the final nine plays off. At one point, even more seconds ticked off the clock as the lineman adjusted to the defensive alignment.
Once the plays did come off, Vick threw little passes. Fifteen yards to Eric Decker, then another short one incomplete for Decker. Short left for four yards to Decker. Short right for 14 yards to Percy Harvin, whose 11 catches for 129 yards showed he may yet become a positive force for this green-clad train wreck.
The drive went on like that as the Chiefs were more than happy to allow the catches. The receivers stayed inbounds most of the time. Chunks of time — 21 seconds, 24 seconds, 24 seconds — ran off between three plays. On second-and-4, Vick found Decker for three yards, necessitating a fourth-down pass designed not to score with 10 seconds to go, but to pick up the first down.
Only once, on the last play of the whole sequence, did Vick throw a pass into the end zone.
Again, only a miracle would have saved the Jets Sunday. But sometimes the heavens do bestow their favors and create wonderful things that change seasons.
The Jets simply crept off with their 10 points. Quietly. Mouse-like.
The run-up to that was just more of the same from an inadequate offense, bad kick coverage unit, and a first-half defense that could neither stop Alex Smith’s three-step throws, the running of Jamaal Charles, or create a takeaway.
The only difference is that Geno Smith escaped completely free from blame. He was out with a bad shoulder.
Still, the Jets had a shot at this one. The Chiefs only led 14-7 after Vick took them in on a 3-yard pass to Decker. But the special teams gave it right back on De’Anthony Thomas’ 78-yard kickoff return and Smith’s 12-yard scoring pass to Travis Kelce.
They came away empty on fourth-down from the 5 at the start of the fourth quarter. They failed to convert fourth down on the next two drives.
By the time the Chiefs punted, only 1:46 remained. It was no longer a game.
But that doesn’t excuse anyone from calling it quits.
Perhaps the Jets just thought they had enough.
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