Another fourth-quarter collapse led to another New York Jets loss.
The Jets (4-7) saw a fumble returned for a touchdown and a score off a punt return against them after taking a 20-18 lead a minute into the fourth quarter in what became a 35-27 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 12 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
It spoiled one of Josh McCown and Robby Anderson’s finest performances in a Jets uniform. McCown passed for 307 yards and three touchdowns while Anderson recorded 146 receiving yards on six catches with a pair of scores against a Panthers team (8-3), which has now won four-straight games.
A sleepy affair finally had some kind of offensive life injected into it early in the second quarter when the Panthers reeled off an eight-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a Cam Newton one-yard rushing touchdown to give the visitors to break a 3-3 tie.
Jets rookie safety Jamal Adams tried to provide his team with a spark of their own after the touchdown as he tried to disturb Newton’s end zone celebration.
Newton passed for 168 yards and provided another 28 on the ground in Week 12.
The jawing seemed to work as Carolina’s offense sputtered through the rest of the first half, allowing the Jets to get back into it.
For the fifth-straight game, McCown hooked up with Anderson for the first time on Sunday, a 33-yard strike, to make it a 12-10 game with 1:12 to go before the break.
They got together again for a 54-yard score with 5:41 to go in the third quarter to put the Jets in the lead and give Anderson his seventh touchdown catch of the year.
With McCown avoiding pressure by rolling out to his right, he directed Anderson to head straight down the sideline before bombing a dime to the wide-open receiver.
Anderson’s streak of five-straight games with a touchdown catch is currently tied for the longest active streak in the NFL. Not bad for an undrafted second-year player out of Temple.
In fact, Anderson became just the second Jets player post-merger to record seven or more touchdown receptions in a single season. Wayne Chrebet, out of Hofstra University, did it three times in his career.
The Panthers immediately responded after Anderson’s second touchdown catch of the day, re-taking the lead on their ensuing drive. Jonathan Stewart’s two-yard score gave Carolina a one-point lead that would stay that slim after a failed two-point conversion.
New York looked slated to regain a somewhat comfortable advantage of at least six after a long Jermaine Kearse reception and two Carolina pass interference penalties put the Jets on the one-yard-line.
But an Austin Seferian-Jenkins touchdown catch was overturned by a review after he bobbled the ball while falling out of bounds while two other passes fell incomplete.
It was a puzzling series of play calls considering the Jets didn’t run the ball once, forcing them to settle for the field goal that put them ahead 20-18 with 14:01 left in the game.
Two minutes later though, the Jets were behind once again and it was the offense to blame. McCown lost the ball while being sacked, presenting linebacker Luke Keuhcly with an easy opportunity for the scoop and 34-yard score.
It looked like it was all over with 9:54 to go after Kaelin Clay took a Jets punt 60 yards for a backbreaking touchdown to give Carolina a 12-point lead, but New York pulled within five after McCown and Kearse got together for a three-yard score to make it interesting.
They couldn’t stop Newton though as the Panthers’ offense managed to run out the clock and put the game out of reach with a field goal with 21 seconds remaining.