It was fourth-and-15 at the two-minute warning and the Jets trailed the Houston Texans by four points on Saturday. The Jets were at their own 20-yard line. They went for it.
The pundits always say there’s no play you can draw up for fourth-and-15, but the Jets found one. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold scrambled — extended the play, if you will — and lofted a pass in the direction of Robby Anderson down the left sideline.
Anderson, who had position in front of a lone Texans defender, went up for the ball at the Jets’ 42-yard line, but it hit off his fingertips and fell incomplete. The Texans took over on downs and eventually kicked a 40-yard field goal for the final margin in a 29-22 victory at MetLife Stadium.
Darnold had found Anderson seven times for 96 yards and a second-quarter touchdown. Who knows what would have happened if Anderson had come down with the ball on fourth-and-15? Maybe nothing. Maybe something really good.
“It was just a little bad judgment on me,” Anderson said. “I came just a little too much under and it hit right off my fingertips. I’ve got to make those plays.”
Jets fans probably don’t want to hear this right after a loss . . . but Anderson was willing to say it. Even in defeat, he feels as if the chemistry that is developing between him and Darnold gives the offense something to look forward to.
“Absolutely,” Anderson said. “I said I think we all hope that the future’s bright. I think me and him took a lot of steps these past couple weeks. “
Darnold finished 24-for-38 for 253 yards and two touchdowns in his second game since returning from a foot injury. He also rushed six times for 35 yards and continued to show an ability to keep plays alive with his scrambling.
“It’s a lot of fun because you can’t ever expect a play to die,” Anderson said. “Expect the unexpected.”
Darnold was the Jets’ second-leading rusher behind Elijah McGuire, who carried the ball 18 times for 42 yards and a touchdown.
It’s more accurate to say the Jets’ offense carried McGuire into the end zone for his fourth-quarter touchdown, a 2-yard run that gave the Jets their only lead of the day at 22-19 with five minutes remaining.
McGuire was stopped at the line of scrimmage when all of a sudden he felt himself being lifted off the ground and carried into the end zone.
“The thing about that, my feet weren’t on the ground,” McGuire said. “So I was in the air. The O-line gave me a push. Got me in there. It was crazy because I really got met in the hole . . . I was going backwards at first and then all of a sudden I started moving forward. I was like, ‘There goes my help.’ The O-line got the job done.”
McGuire did lament a second-quarter fumble at the Jets’ 42 that was recovered by Houston. One play later, Deshaun Watson threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins.
“I feel like this loss is on me,” McGuire said. “I turned the ball over. I can’t put the ball on the ground when we’ve got something going on offense.
“On that series, we had something going, and for me to put the ball on the ground to get them good field position, it’s not acceptable. I’ve got to do better with the ball security.”