“We think about this every day,” Gore said of 0-16. “We have to get one. You don’t want to go from 0 to 16, especially since this could be my last year. I can’t go out like this.
It would be a humiliating end to Gore’s magnificent career, and it would be a stain on every coach, player, front office manager and other associates. It’s something the Jets are desperately trying to avoid, even though part of their fan base is hoping for a winless season and the No.1 draft pick that comes with it.
On Sunday, the Jets nearly overcame an 18-point halftime deficit to secure their first victory, but didn’t quite manage to do so against the Chargers, who improved to 3-7.
After a dismal first half, in which they only managed 82 yards and let the Chargers rookie quarterback pitch for 277 yards and two touchdowns, the Jets made a comeback in the second half. They scored three touchdowns and recovered the ball from their own 46-yard line with 2:48 left and 34-26 behind. They moved the ball to 32, but Joe Flacco’s fourth pass to Denzel Mims fell to the ground and the Jets’ thwarted hopes collapsed.
The Jets are now two losses away before leveling the longest losing streak in franchise history (12), set in the 1995-96 seasons.
The Jets were also officially eliminated from the playoff challenge with the Colts losing and winning over the Packers. The team’s playoff drought is now 10 seasons away, the second longest drought in team history. The longest is 11 seasons from 1970 to 1980.
“He’s probably the most frustrated football we’ve ever played,” defensive end Henry Anderson said. “We work hard all week. It’s just frustrating. I feel like we’re doing everything we can during the prep week. We just have to keep finding what little more we can do to help us get over the bump.
For fans who dreamed of Clemson star Trevor Lawrence, this was the best possible result. The Jets played a competitive game but lost. They have a one-game “lead” over the Jaguars for the No. 1 pick.
For players and coaches, it’s another dark week in a season full of them.
The Jets defense, playing three rookie rookies in high school, had no answer for Chargers quarterback Herbert and wide receiver Keenan Allen. Herbert completed 37 of 49 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. He connected with wide receiver Keenan Allen for 16 receptions, 145 yards and one touchdown. The 16 catches are the highest ever made by an opponent of the Jets.
Veteran Jets quarterback Joe Flacco, starting in place of injured Sam Darnold, struggled early but seemed to find a rhythm in the second half. He finished 15 of 30 for 205 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
The Jets got off to a quick start. After their defense stopped the Chargers’ first practice. Anderson blocked a Ty Long punt that Quinnen Williams recovered from the Chargers 29. Four games later, La’Michal Perine scored a 5-yard touchdown and the Jets led 6-0 after an extra run missed by Sam Ficken , his first of two is missing.
The Chargers ‘next possession ended with an Allen fumble at the Jets’ one-yard line which was recovered by safety Ashtyn Davis. The Jets had some momentum, but Flacco flushed that out on the next play. He threw a terrible pass to Jamison Crowder that Chargers cornerback Teavaughn Campbell intercepted and returned 6 yards for a touchdown and a 7-6 lead.
“The interception I threw was really bad,” Flacco said.
Herbert then cut out the Jets, throwing touchdowns at Mike Williams and Hunter Henry to give the Chargers a 24-6 lead at halftime.
The Jets’ offense stammered in the first half. Their wide receivers did not get a hold in the first two quarters.
“We couldn’t get into a rhythm,” Gore said.
The Jets rallied in the second half. Flacco threw two touchdown passes, one to Breshad Perriman and Chris Herndon and Gore scored his first touchdown as a Jet. The Jets were more aggressive in the second half, taking deeper shots and it paid off.
Herndon’s 6-yard touchdown – his first of the season – with 4:00 to go made 34-26. After a defensive position, the Jets recovered the ball with 2:48 to go and a chance to tie the game. But Flacco threw three consecutive Chargers 32 incompletions and Los Angeles escaped with the win. The Chargers took some security to run the time off the clock and prevent the Jets from throwing another offensive play.
“It’s very difficult,” Gore said. “Any team sport, you want to win. One thing I can say about this team is that we come to work every week on Sundays, we give everything, everyone gives everything. We just have to keep fighting as a team and try to get one, but it’s difficult because you play this game to win.