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Jets need to learn how to close games before season spirals

October 23, 2017
Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) sacks New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15), during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Miami Dolphins free safety Reshad Jones (20) is at right. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) sacks New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15), during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Miami Dolphins free safety Reshad Jones (20) is at right. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets have had solid starts undermined by awful endings in their past two games.

Both of their big leads ended up becoming frustrating losses, leaving Todd Bowles’ bunch searching for a killer instinct. And the Jets need to figure that out fast before the season begins to spiral.

New York is 3-4 and on a two-game losing streak with games against Atlanta and Buffalo in a five-day stretch, starting Sunday.

“WE ARE GOING TO BOUNCE BACK!” tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins declared on Twitter . “Too many dogs on this squad.”

The Jets appeared to be cruising to their second victory this season over Miami on Sunday, scoring 21 points in the first half and carrying a 28-14 lead into the fourth quarter. But against backup quarterback Matt Moore, New York collapsed down the stretch and fell 31-28.

“It’s hard, especially knowing we had a lead like that in the fourth quarter,” defensive end Leonard Williams said Monday during a conference call.

“But we have a 24-hour rule that we live by at the Jets. Whether it’s a win or loss, we have to watch film on Monday and get over it and by Tuesday be ready for the next opponent.”

That loss to the Dolphins came a week after the Jets built a 14-0 lead in the first half against New England, only to see Tom Brady and the Patriots storm back and win 24-17 .

Both games were there for the taking, but the Jets couldn’t close them out — mainly because of bad mistakes and costly penalties.

“Obviously, when we’re playing a rival game like them, it’s tough,” guard Brian Winters said. “When you have the lead, we can’t be complacent. You’ve got to be able to fight to the end of the game. There are things we obviously need to work on to finish a game.”

The Jets were called for seven penalties in the fourth quarter at Miami, including five on the offense.

“We just kept getting behind the sticks, so we had ourselves in some third-and-longs there and we didn’t convert,” quarterback Josh McCown said. “We weren’t able to really flip the field and give them a longer field to work with.”

With the game tied with 47 seconds left, the Jets were aggressive and tried to win the game. It took one play to ruin those chances as McCown’s pass intended for Jermaine Kearse floated right to Bobby McCain for an interception that led to Cody Parkey’s 39-yard field goal that gave Miami a 31-28 lead with 22 seconds remaining.

“It was just a bad feeling,” McCown said. “It’s something that I’ll learn from and move on and know that I want to be better in that situation. I plan to be better in that situation and that’s what it is.

“I hate it for our team in that moment. I hate it for everybody, because we obviously all want to win, and to have played as well as we had as an offense for most of the game and to move the football the way we had, and then to kind of stall in the fourth (quarter) and then finish it like that, it’s just a bad taste.”

The Jets got the ball back at the Dolphins 16 after Parkey’s field goal, hoping to set themselves up for a tying kick of their own. But McCown’s deep pass was incomplete to Seferian-Jenkins — and New York was called for two penalties on the play: holding by tackle Brent Qvale, which was declined, and unsportsmanlike conduct on receiver Robby Anderson, who angrily tossed his helmet to the turf in frustration.

The call on Anderson put the ball on the 8, and sealed the loss. It also cast a bad look on the young receiver, in his second season, for a team that has been preaching unity since training camp.

Bowles said he spoke to Anderson on Monday, and the two are “on the same page” about the situation.

“We don’t condone anything like that,” Bowles said, “and we don’t tolerate anything like that. It won’t happen again.”

The Jets insisted the team remains unified despite Anderson’s actions and the two tough losses.

“We win together, we lose together,” Williams said. “The No. 1 thing we have to do is stick together and be a family. That’s the one thing I can say: This team is a family.”

New York has already surpassed the dismal preseason expectations by many outsiders and was one of the NFL’s early season surprises.

But the Jets also know that 3-4 could easily become 3-6 next week — and, again, potentially ruin a good start.

“We’re going to continue to fight,” linebacker Demario Davis said. “There are a couple of things we can do better. We’re going to do those things, and come back stronger this week.”

NOTES: Bowles had no update on RT Brandon Shell, who was having tests after leaving the game early with a neck injury. ... CB Buster Skrine had a particularly rough game against Miami, allowing three touchdowns and being called for three penalties. “He had some technique errors,” Bowles said. “It wasn’t his finest day.” Bowles added that he’s not considering benching Skrine.


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