KANSAS CITY, Mo. — What began for the Jets as a simple tale of Red Zone woe morphed late Sunday into a tale out of the Twilight Zone — a quarterbacking debacle so surreal it seemed to be from another dimension.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions in a 24-3 loss to the Chiefs, a large number in itself. But he threw five on the final five Jets possessions.
Five. In a row. Oh, and three came in the end zone.
All of this happened 10 days after one of the best games of his career in a revenge match against the Bills.
“It’s tough,” Fitzpatrick said after finishing 20-for-44 for 188 yards and a passer rating of 18.2.
“The NFL, football in general, is a humbling game, so every single week is a different week no matter the opponent and no matter how good you’re feeling. Went out there and didn’t play well, obviously. It’s an understatement.”
Unlike the Giants’ Eli Manning, who had his own interception misadventures Sunday, Fitzpatrick does not have two Super Bowl rings as collateral to allow concerned fans to shrug off clunkers.
Yes, he had a fantastic season in 2015, and seemed to be on the right track again against the Bills.
But his late-career FitzMagic is a fragile thing. At least that’s what many media skeptics — I am raising my hand, even though you can’t see me doing so — and fans think.
The Jets insist he remains their guy, though. “We still believe in Fitzy,” Darrelle Revis said.
Coach Todd Bowles took pains in between postgame expletives to say the loss was not all on Fitzpatrick, that he still supports him and that no, Geno Smith will not be starting against the Seahawks.
“Trust is the same,” Bowles said. “He had a bad day at the office. Last week he had a great day at the office.”
Fitzpatrick’s tone postgame was calm, but he grew a tad defensive when asked one question too many aimed at getting him to describe the magnitude of his horrendous day, and how he might bounce back from it.
“I’ve had some bad ones [before],” he said. “What I‘ve been able to do it is just put it behind me and move on . . . You [reporters] can write whatever you want about me or say whatever you want about me, but I’m going to always be out there fighting.”
By that he was referring to the fact his last interceptions came in garbage time. But he accepted full blame for his first three picks, with No. 2 and 3 being crushers in the red zone.
First, with the ball at the Chiefs’ 5-yard line late in the third quarter, he had a throw over the middle tipped by the Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson into the hands of Eric Berry in the end zone.
Fitzpatrick said the Chiefs had dropped both ends into coverage, and the safety cheated toward Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.
“We had Jalin [Marshall] on a double move he didn’t really win, which for me, I saw it and I have to know not to force it in,” he said. “That was the definition of a forced throw that didn’t need to happen.”
Soon thereafter, the Jets were at the Kansas City 6 when Fitzpatrick’s throw bounced off the hands of his teammate, Quincy Enunwa, and into the hands of Marcus Peters, who is not his teammate.
Under pressure, Fitzpatrick tried to make what he called a “hero play.”
“They doubled Brandon in the back and Quincy was one-on-one,” he said, “but it was a hairy throw that I am better than and I shouldn’t have made.”
Thirteen games to go. And if the Jets want to go anywhere, the FitzMagic must be back consistently.
When asked one last time about his confidence level, he said, “I’ll be all right.” When a reporter pressed the matter, Fitzpatrick smirked. “I’ll be all right,” he said.
At least it can’t get much more wrong than it went Sunday.
Ryan’s Fitzpatrick’s dreadful numbers:
QB Rating 18.2