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It was apropos of this miserable season, and to a larger extent, the Adam Gase era.
A pedestrian-at-best performance from Sam Darnold, injuries to key rookies Denzel Mims and Mekhi Becton, the defense making Cam Newton look like his old MVP self, and, of course, another loss.
In what is expected to be Gase’s final game as Jets coach, and possibly the end of Darnold’s time with the team as well, the Jets lost for the 10th consecutive time to Bill Belichick and the playing-out-the-string-for-once Patriots, 28-14, Sunday afternoon to close out this nightmarish 2-14 campaign. It marks the second-worst season in franchise history, after the 1-15 mark in 1996.
Barring a surprise, Gase will finish as the Jets coach with a 9-23 record across two seasons. The big question is will the Jets use the second-overall pick in the draft on a quarterback and move on from Darnold or look to build around him.
New England scored 21 consecutive points in the second half, kick-started by a 19-yard Newton touchdown catch on a pass from receiver Jakobi Meyers. He followed that up with touchdown passes to tight end Devin Asiasi and Sony Michel, both of them their first receiving score in the NFL.
Newton entered the game with five touchdown passes all season and none in his previous 12 quarters. He tossed three against the Jets and completed 21 of 30 passes for 241 yards without an interception, and also ran for 78 yards.
Darnold, the third-year quarterback who was thought to be the franchise signal-caller the team has waited decades for, was typically mediocre. He led the Jets on long touchdown drives at the end of the first half and at the start of the second half, but otherwise did very little. He snapped his three-game turnover-free streak with a pair of interceptions and finished the season without a single 300-yard passing game. He threw two touchdowns in a game just twice.
The Jets started very poorly offensively. Their first three drives resulted in punts. Finally, late in the opening half, they moved the ball, converting a pair of third downs and finding the end zone on Darnold’s 21-yard strike to Chris Herndon.
It was an accurate pass in traffic in which Herndon was drilled after coming down with the ball. A flag was thrown for the defender hitting a defenseless receiver, but Herndon hung on for his second touchdown in as many weeks. To start the second half, the Jets scored again, on a six-play, 75-yard drive capped by Josh Adams’ 1-yard score. Darnold was again accurate, completing a 53-yard pass to Breshad Perriman.
In the two impressive drives, Darnold completed 9 of 10 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown, one of his most impressive stretches of the season. But it was the last time the Jets would score.
After five straight scoreless drives, the Patriots pulled even on the first touchdown catch of Newton’s career. Newton handed off to Michel, who pitched the ball to Meyers who found a wide-open Newton near the goal line.
The score lit a fire under Newton, who led the Patriots to touchdowns their next two possessions, connecting with Asiasi on a 26-yard score and finding Michel from 31 yards out to extend the lead to 28-14 with 11:42 remaining.
The Patriots opened the scoring in dominant fashion, going 84 yards in seven plays without needing a third down. Newton’s 7-yard touchdown pass to James White was his first score through the air in 13 quarters and he also set it up with a 49-yard run, the longest run ever by a Patriots quarterback.
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