EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets have done a lot of losing in their history, but never like this.
Outlasted by the New England Patriots in a surprisingly entertaining Monday night game, the Jets -- 30-27 losers at MetLife Stadium -- fell to 0-9 for the first time. Take a moment to think about that:
A franchise known for its losing moments -- the Butt Fumble, the Rich Kotite era, Dan Marino's Fake Spike, the "Heidi" game -- has added a new low to its inglorious past.
On Monday, the Jets clinched their 30th losing season in 61 years, including a current streak of five in a row. There was one other 0-8 start, in 1996, but they managed a win on the way to finishing 1-15.
Perhaps the only silver lining for the Jets is that they remain the front-runners for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, with a 67% chance, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. The fan base is buzzing about the prospect of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive top pick. That possibility will hover over the team -- and incumbent Sam Darnold -- for the next several months.
With Darnold (shoulder) sitting out, the Joe Flacco-led Jets were surprisingly effective for three quarters Monday, as they jumped to leads of 20-10 and 27-17. But they reverted to their Stupid Jet Tricks and blew the game in the final minutes. Typical formula: dumb penalties on defense, horrible playcalling on offense and an ill-advised pass by the QB for an interception. In the end, they lost on a 51-yard field goal by former Jet Nick Folk as time expired.
QB breakdown: Flacco, who was awful in two starts earlier this season, was brilliant for 54 minutes. That's when he got greedy and threw a first-down interception on a deep ball he shouldn't have thrown. It was a dumb play for an experienced quarterback, especially with tight end Ryan Griffin open in the flat. Naturally, it came back to haunt the Jets, as they allowed 13 unanswered points.
The interception ruined an otherwise strong game for Flacco. For a while, he looked -- dare we say it? -- elite, finishing with 262 yards and three touchdowns of 50, 20 and 15 yards.
It was more than the numbers. It was how he did it. He reintroduced the long ball to the offense, flicking a 50-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Breshad Perriman -- a rare, outside-the-pocket throw for the immobile Flacco. He followed with a 20-yard touchdown to wide receiver Jamison Crowder -- an absolute dime. It was a corner route on which Flacco threw from the right hashmark to the left corner, covering 45 yards in the air. Crowder did a fantastic job of getting both feet down.
What does this all mean? No, the Jets don't have a quarterback controversy. Stop it. If Darnold is healthy enough to play in two weeks, following the bye, he should play, case closed.
Promising trend: It took until Week 9, but the Jets finally got their starting wide receivers -- Perriman, Crowder and rookie Denzel Mims -- on the field at the same time. Gase had been telling people for weeks that things would improve once the team got them back. Well, he was right. They combined for 11 catches, 189 yards and three touchdowns, easily the best passing day of the season. Perriman's speed was a factor; his ability to stretch the defense opened lanes for others. Now all the Jets have to do is keep him healthy.
Biggest hole in the game plan: The pass coverage was way too soft in the final minutes, allowing Patriots quarterback Cam Newton to get into position for the game-winning points. Why? The Jets were aggressive all game and turned to mush in crunch time.
Eye-popping NextGen Stat: Flacco's 20-yard touchdown pass to Crowder had a completion probability of just 6.2%, making it the most improbable completion of the season.