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At 3-4, Jets insist they won’t repeat last season’s spiral

October 21, 2018
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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Vikings won 37-17. (AP Photo/Howard Simmons)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets were in this exact spot a year ago.

They were 3-4 after seven games and at a crossroads in their season — which quickly spiraled from that point. The Jets lost the following week and won only two more games the rest of the way while stumbling to a 5-11 finish.

Safety Jamal Adams insisted there will be no repeat performance this year.

“Not going to happen,” a defiant Adams said after a 37-17 loss to Minnesota on Sunday . “I’m not going to let that happen. Plain and simple.”

The Jets had gotten back to .500 with victories at home against Denver and Indianapolis, and were looking to sweep their first three-game homestand since 1974.

Instead, turnovers — four of them — and missed opportunities ruined that chance against the Vikings.

“It’s not like they came in here and just smacked us,” linebacker Darron Lee said. “It’s nothing to sit here and hit the panic button about. We’re fine. No one is worried or panicking here. We’re fine as a group. We’re a lot more close-knit (than last season).”

Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes, Latavius Murray ran for two scores, and the Vikings (4-2-1) pulled away in the second half for their third straight victory.

Lee was right: Minnesota didn’t exactly roll over New York. But it did more than enough to temper the simmering confidence and good vibes Jets fans were feeling coming into the game.

Now, New York has to prevent the disappointment from lingering — and turning into more losses.

“I know in a couple years past, since I’ve been here, the wheels have fallen off and all hell would break loose,” Lee said. “But we’re fine, and no one is panicking here. We weren’t as close-knit as a group as we are now. Nobody has got their head hanging down.”

In his first game against the Jets since spurning their massive offer in free agency, Cousins was far from spectacular but made some big plays late. With the game still hanging in the balance and the Vikings facing fourth-and-8 from the 34, Cousins connected with Aldrick Robinson for a TD to seal it.

Cousins, 25 of 40 for 241 yards, opted to turn down New York’s three-year, $90 million deal in the offseason and instead chose to go to Minnesota, which actually signed him to a deal worth $6 million less. The Jets insisted this loss didn’t sting any more than usual because it was against Cousins.

“We don’t care,” Lee said. “We only care about us and this team. Don’t try to make this about him. We don’t care. No one ever spoke about that all week. No one cared.”

After Cousins made his decision, the Jets turned their attention to the draft, where they selected Sam Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick.

In their first meeting, Cousins came out on top — while Darnold struggled on a cold, windy day.

The rookie was 17 of 42 for 206 yards with a TD pass to Chris Herndon and a TD run, but was intercepted three times as New York’s two-game winning streak ended.

“I’ve just got to find completions,” Darnold said. “That’s really it. And, we’ve got to do a better job executing.”

Jason Myers, who set the franchise record with seven field goals last Sunday, kicked a 55-yarder to cut the Jets’ deficit to 10 at 27-17 with 2:39 remaining in the third. New York finally converted its first third down of the game after missing on its first seven opportunities on Darnold’s 6-yard run on third-and-5, but the drive was short-circuited by drops by Isaiah Crowell and Eric Tomlinson.

“Nothing clicked for the offense today,” coach Todd Bowles said.

Or, on special teams, for the most part.

Tarell Basham was penalized for being offside on the game’s opening kickoff — a bad omen. There was later a muffed punt return by Andre Roberts, who was able to recover; a bad snap from Thomas Hennessy to punter Lachlan Edwards, who had to field the ball off the turf; and a 28-yard punt by Edwards that helped lead to another score for Minnesota.

“Errors in all three phases were critical,” Bowles said. “Every time you give up field position in a game like this against a good team, you’re going to have a problem. We can’t make those mistakes.”

Not if the Jets have their sights set on being in the playoff mix late in the season.

And, especially if they intend on getting back to winning, starting next Sunday at Chicago.

“You’ve just got to stay positive, and understand that we played a good football team and they made more plays than we did,” Adams said. “We’ve got to do the little things right at all times and always preach that. We’ve just got to be more consistent at it.”

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