Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Monday Night Football presents Four Seasons Total Landscaping Bowl with Jets/Pats

Joe Flacco goes down ... again.
Joe Flacco goes down ... again.
Image: (Getty Images)

No matter how crappy the Patriots are this season, after a 30-27 win during Monday Night Football, Bill Belichick will always have the Jets.

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 That’s the only conclusion to reach after the Jets gave up a 27-17 fourth-quarter lead to go down in a pile of stinking flames before the end of regulation. It was a game that proved Jets coach Adam Gase can’t manage a clock any better than he can call offensive plays.

 According to ESPN’s projection elves, the 0-9 Jets now have a 64 percent chance of “winning” the top pick in the NFL Draft, where Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is waiting. If only it looked like they were trying to throw the game but no, the Jets are earning these losses honestly.

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 It’s hard to imagine a more gawd awful matchup in prime time, this side of the NFC East. The losing records coming in, the rotating quarterbacks — it hardly bore a resemblance to the days when these teams vied for the divisional title.

 It was the Four Seasons Total Landscaping Bowl of the AFC East.

 It was so bad that in the pre-game Monday Night Football hype show, ESPN analyst — and noted former quarterback — Steve Young suggested that Lawrence should STAY IN SCHOOL rather than acquiesce to being drafted by the Jets.

 Of course no “student-athlete” should miss that payday. This isn’t 1903, Lawrence will make real money after the indentured servitude that is the college football system. And as many Twitter sticklers pointed out, the NCAA rules do not allow picks to run screaming from the team that chooses them and back to their fake amateur bonds. But you have to admire Young’s commitment to trashing the Jets by pointing out how the team has destroyed young quarterbacks in succession.

 Even if Gase is soon gone, the Jets have an uncanny ability to undercut the development of their promising young quarterbacks, from Mark Sanchez to Geno Smith to Sam Darnold. The Jets also drafted Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round in 2016. Hackenberg is already out of the league, having never played a single down in the NFL. That’s four quarterbacks drafted in the first two rounds since 2009.

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 There’s this idea that a No. 1 draft pick can change the character of a team, but it’s just as often that the character of a team can undermine the career of a potential Pro Bowler. It’s the combination of system and player that makes it work, there has to be a path to success available.

 The Jets are so perennially turrible, fans are used to being flummoxed by their decision-making and watching scenes wherein an adult quarterback fumbles the ball off the back side of his own lineman. A “butt fumble,” if you will.

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 But enough about the perpetual garbage fire in New York. Let’s turn our sympathies to the bleating foghorn that is New England. Must be difficult to be a Patriots fan when New England hasn’t had a losing season since 2000 and won six Super Bowl titles during that two-decade run.

 Now, lifted to 3-5 by playing marginally better than a franchise that would be playing at Rutgers if the NFL relegated bad teams, quarterback Cam Newton appeared genuinely happy.

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 “It’s been a long last couple of games,” Newton told ESPN’s Lisa Salters.

 Ironically, the game was actually won with a 51-yard field goal off the foot of Nick Folk, a former Jet.

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 ESPN’s Mike Reiss noted the Patriots are 1-4 when winning the opening coin toss. The Patriots won the toss, the Patriots deferred.

 So Joe Flacco, introduced by the ESPN graphics department as a Raven-winged dancing automaton that did not pass the Turing test, got the Jets a 20-10 halftime lead that seemed at once quick and interminably long.

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 Flacco vs. Newton might have been an interesting matchup five or six seasons ago, but these are different times.

 Just because a game is close at the end doesn’t mean it’s good. But with 1:57 left in the fourth quarter Newton pushed the ball over the end zone from a yard out and a Folk PAT delivered the 27-27 tie.

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 For such a storied rivalry, including a Jets divisional win in 2010, fortunes certainly have turned. Tom Brady is in a Buccaneers uniform, and Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is long retired.

 The Jets fans may not have been able to enjoy a win, but they might just enjoy seeing the Patriots struggle this year. Against actual football teams.

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