With two games left in the season, the New York Jets may not be done bumbling publicly in 2012, but they committed their last fail with playoff implications on Monday night in Nashville.
In a 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans that included more Mark Sanchez turnovers (5) than combined scoring plays (4), the final outcome remained in doubt into the final minute. Despite all of the ineptitude demonstrated by the Jets' offense and its current pilot, a shanked punt by the Titans gave them one last chance to find a season-saving score.
Facing first and 10 at the Titans' 25 with 47 seconds remaining on the clock, All-Pro center Nick Mangold fired a low snap back to Sanchez, who was several steps behind him in a shotgun formation. The beleaguered quarterback couldn't control the ball, reaching down to pick it up. Before Sanchez could get a handle, running back Bilal Powell accidentally kicked it away. Powell went down and Sanchez looked on as players piled up around the ball. The Titans recovered, dashing the Jets' playoff hopes and eliciting a emphatic call from Mike Tirico of ESPN.
"That's the way this game should end. That's the way the Jets' season should end: Ugly and a loss"
With good reason, Tirico was one step away from castigating the Jets players and coaches like the judge during the academic decathlon scene at the conclusion of Billy Madison.
While this will be, at worst, the second most embarrassing fumble of the Jets' season, it is, as Tirico noted, a fitting conclusion to the competitive portion of their 2012 schedule. The loss dropped the Jets to 6-8 and eliminated them from contention for one of the Wild Card spots in the AFC playoffs.
"To get the ball on the 25-yard line with a chance to win it at the end and then to turn it over again, obviously, it was extremely disappointing to say the least," Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters after the game, via SNY.
With this Jets-Titans shoving match being featured on Monday Night Football, there were plenty of people to notice the Jets' latest miscue. Many of them were a bit more colorful in the expressing themselves than Ryan.