The Jets have been in business 61 years, have found more ways to lose than most other franchises in pro sports and have put their fans through more heartache than they could ever deserve.
But not until this year have they done something this bad: For the first time in franchise history, they have lost their first nine games.
With only two games left against teams currently with losing records, they might set a new standard for futility. Which, even by their standards, is almost impossibly low.
The Jets lost to the Patriots in excruciating fashion Monday night, as their long-standing AFC East rivals finished them off at the buzzer. Former Jets kicker Nick Folk booted a 51-yard field goal with no time remaining to clinch a 30-27 win at MetLife Stadium. Seven more losses and Rich Kotite’s 1-15 season will be the second-worst finish in franchise history.
Adam Gase is authoring this latest debacle, and the second-year coach almost certainly will not see the light of the 2021 season. With a bye next weekend, there is sure to be speculation about whether he’ll even make it to their next game against the Chargers in Week 11.
"It hurts," Gase said. "Our guys, they battled, gave it everything they had, just to have a few mistakes that cost us and cost us the game."
The only saving grace: The Jets are still in position to earn the No. 1 overall draft pick and potentially secure the right to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. If they lose out, they get the pick.
They’ll be underdogs in their remaining games against the Chargers, Dolphins, Raiders, Seahawks, Rams, Browns and Patriots. If they sneak in a win, the 1-7 Jaguars, who would take Lawrence in a nanosecond, might get dibs on the Clemson star.
The Jets looked as good as they have all season Monday night, with Joe Flacco bringing back memories of his days with the Ravens as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. He was 18-for-25 for 263 yards and three touchdowns, and he might have had a fourth if Breshad Perriman had not dropped a perfectly placed pass in the end zone in the first quarter.
But it was Flacco’s fourth-quarter interception that kept the Jets from closing it out, and as they have done so many times against the Jets, Bill Belichick’s Patriots summoned just enough to win it in the end.
The Patriots snapped a four-game losing streak thanks to some solid playmaking by Cam Newton, who rallied the team from a 10-point deficit to set up the winning field goal.
"It was one of those games where the offenses were grinding it out and playing good football," said Flacco, who replaced the injured Sam Darnold (shoulder). "A lot of emotions right now in the locker room. Guys are fighting really, really hard to get wins. We want to do it for each other, and we haven’t been able to do it."
Flacco was especially disappointed because of how well the Jets played offensively.
"I felt like the guys really executed well," he said. "We felt damn good about how we played all night."
Gase said Flacco "made a lot of nice throws. For the majority of the game, he did exactly what we needed him to do. It’s tough when you might have one or two errors, and you don’t feel good about it."
Flacco’s interception was costly, though, and the Jets’ three-and-out in the final minutes gave Newton just enough time to move down the field and set up for Folk’s game-winner. Belichick was his usual brilliant self with clock management down the stretch, and — boom — Folk’s field goal at the end was the dagger.
Some may have thought the Jets already had hit bottom, but they keep finding new ways to sink lower. And by early January, they might join the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns as the NFL’s only 0-16 teams.
So if the Jets think it’s bad now, Flacco has a message: It can get worse. A lot worse.
"There are seven weeks left in the National Football League season," he said. "If you don’t come to work ready to go, this league will make that a very long and very tough to survive. We have to keep our heads up and play this thing out the only way we know how."
If there’s any consolation, it’s that the Jets might wind up with a franchise quarterback in Lawrence — or perhaps Justin Fields of Ohio State or Mac Brown of Alabama. And if they decide to keep Darnold, general manager Joe Douglas can parlay a top choice next year into a package of picks to continue building the foundation of a team that one day might be able to enjoy a playoff run.
That day is not close, of course. The Jets must complete their latest appointment with misery before moving on to a more hopeful future.
Seven games to go before they can think about turning the corner in the franchise’s Year 62 and beyond.