The glass-half-full version of the Jets' 31-24 loss to the Packers goes something like this: They got off to a terrific start against a Super Bowl-caliber opponent on the road, looking as if they deserved to be considered a playoff contender the way Geno Smith's offense was humming along and Rex Ryan's defense was smothering Aaron Rodgers & Co. And despite a series of unfortunate moments, they still were within one score of the Packers, just missing a chance near the end to tie it.
The glass-half-empty version goes like this: How in the world do you squander a 21-3 lead on the road, let Rodgers find his rhythm after looking so helpless through much of the first half, and then blow a golden opportunity in the second half?
How do you come away with so many "Same Old Jets" moments in one afternoon, enough to fill a chapter in the long and sordid history of that phrase that so many loyal fans have repeated so many times before?
For a team that fashions itself as a likely participant in the postseason tournament, the Jets looked like anything but in squandering a huge lead through a series of mystifying mistakes, bumbling decisions and overall ineptitude that simply boggled the mind.
After a start that was mostly brilliant, with the Jets getting all three tailbacks involved in the offense, with Smith finding his groove early and with the defense having all the answers for Rodgers, the Jets came apart at the seams in alarming fashion. They lost their composure. They turned the ball over. For goodness sake, they couldn't even call a timeout without calamity ensuing.
Where do we begin?
How about late in the second quarter, with the Jets in control with a 21-9 lead. They're at their 48 with 3:12 to play and reach the Packers' 27 on a 14-yard pass from Smith to Tommy Bohanon. Two minutes left, and here's a chance to run the clock down and keep the ball away from Rodgers.
Nope. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is feeling full of himself. He calls for a deep pass down the right side to tight end Zach Sudfeld.
Smith is under a heavy rush, and he's hit just as he throws the pass. Sudfeld doesn't do Smith any favors by not coming back to the ball, which is underthrown because of the hit on Smith. So cornerback Tramon Williams steps in front and intercepts the pass at the Packers' 3 with 1:52 to play.
Plenty of time for Rodgers to operate, and he drives the Packers 97 yards to make it 21-16 at halftime.
Then it all unravels in the third quarter. Rodgers drives the Packers 67 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, and just as Randall Cobb goes into the end zone off a short pass, Jets defensive end Mo Wilkerson gets into it with several Packers, flailing his hands and fists at just about anyone in green and gold.
Personal foul. Ejection. Inexcusable. Wilkerson has to be escorted off the field by two police officers, and with the Packers fans jeering, he simply smiles and raises his arms, exhorting the crowd to keep it up. Not a good look, sir.
After the Jets tie it at 24, Rodgers puts the Packers ahead with a perfect strike down the right sideline to Jordy Nelson, who spins cornerback Dee Milliner around and escapes the grasp of rookie safety Calvin Pryor for an 80-yard touchdown.
Still, there is a chance. Still, there is hope. When David Harris wraps his arms around the ball for an interception and returns it to the Packers' 20 with 32 seconds left in the third quarter, the Jets have yet another opportunity to make things right.
Nope. They are called for 12 men on the field.
And then -- finally -- we come to the timeout that cost them the tying touchdown.
On fourth-and-4 from the Packers' 36 with 5:06 to play, Smith hits Jeremy Kerley with what appears to be the tying TD pass, pending the extra point. Nope. The Jets called timeout before the play, so it doesn't count.
It's just one more gigantic opportunity that slips through their hands. One more dreadful series of events that conspires to turn what could have been -- what should have been -- a transcendent performance in a huge early-season game into more mind-numbing misfortune from a franchise all too accustomed to these moments.