It was a loss that come January might just end up being a win. Here in the moment it is deflating but Sunday's loss to their biggest rival might just lift them through the rest of the regular season.
The New York Jets are 4-2 now, a 30-23 loss at the New England Patriots on Sunday bitterly disappointing for a team that saw victory fall between their fingers. But while the Jets lost for the second time under Todd Bowles and the first time on the road this year, this by no means was a typical loss.
If anything, the Jets showed that come January football – and this team will be in the postseason – they are a force to be reckoned with. This is a team that deserves not just to be in the middle of all the playoff talk but showed on Sunday that they can be among the best teams in the league within the next couple of months.
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It wasn’t a perfect performance, not by any stretch of the imagination, but the Jets hung with the Patriots and took a lead into the fourth quarter. With star running back Chris Ivory hampered by a hamstring injury and far from his usual self, the Jets offense still managed to produce and move the ball well. And even with a couple of bad drops by wide receiver Brandon Marshall, to say nothing of the game’s final play, the offense still looked like one that can do well come the playoffs. Ryan Fitzpatrick pushed an offense in a way the critics said he couldn’t, keep the Jets very much in the game.
And the defense, while picked apart by Tom Brady, still showed some flashes of a group that can harass the best quarterbacks in the league.
What was learned on Sunday is that without all the bluster and bravado of Rex Ryan, the Jets can simply show up, play their football and consider themselves unfortunate to not emerge from a game against one of the best teams in the league without a win. The Jets could have been 5-1 but for a play here or there. Instead they are regrouping and on to the Oakland Raiders, knowing that they aren’t far away from beating the best in the league.
This loss on Sunday showed that the Jets have some ways to go before they are elite, but the very nature of the game as well as the score line is proof that the Jets can play the Patriots of the world and do more than give them a scare. It was a tough loss but a loss that will serve them well. There is confidence from this loss and the way they lost, a game that was there for the taking but instead fell into the loss column.
Come the playoffs, the Jets defense likely won’t face an offense this prolific in the Wild Card round and maybe not until the AFC Championship Game. They know that if they can almost beat the defending Super Bowl champions, now 6-0, then they can beat anyone else in the conference.
A lesson that will serve them well the next time they are in Foxboro, which could be as early as this January.
It stings now and hurts, especially because it is the Patriots. It might be deflating for a moment but the Jets know now that New England is vulnerable.
They also know after Sunday that they are the team that can beat New England.