SEATTLE (AP)The New York Jets’ lengthy slide finally reached the bottom.
From legitimate playoff contenders barely a month ago to yet another postseason spent at home as a spectator.
New York was eliminated from postseason contention with its 23-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, ensuring that for the franchise-record 12th straight season the Jets won’t be part of the NFL playoffs, the longest active drought in the league.
The Jets (7-9) last reached the postseason in 2011 and will finish with a losing record for the seventh straight season.
”No one is hurting more than the people in that locker room, especially me,” Jets coach Robert Salah said. ”But at the same time, I know it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s still a lot of really cool things to look at from this season.
”But right now, it stings.”
New York (7-9) started the month of December sitting at 7-4, was in the middle of the AFC East race and was coming off a 31-10 thumping of Chicago. The weeks since have been one issue after another for the Jets, all adding up to a five-game losing streak at the worst possible time.
The Jets started the day with hopes that Week 18 would be meaningful no matter what. But New England’s win over Miami coupled with New York’s loss was the formula that eliminated the Jets.
”The five-game losing streak and I know we battled in a bunch of games, this one we could have been a lot better,” Saleh said. ”Especially these last two games, just feel like we’re a better football team than this. Obviously, it starts with me.”
New York’s fifth straight setback started badly and never improved. Seattle’s Kenneth Walker III broke a 60-yard run on the first play of the game and, three plays in, Colby Parkinson caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from one-time Jets QB Geno Smith.
Seattle led 17-3 early in the second quarter after Smith’s second TD pass and after not leading at any point in the previous three games, the Seahawks thrived in playing from ahead.
The early deficit put more stress on New York quarterback Mike White, returning after missing two games with fractured ribs.
”There’s a standard that the guys deserve and I did not live up to that standard or play to that standard today,” White said.
White threw a careless interception on New York’s first possession, one of two picks thrown in the game. White was 23 of 46 for 240 yards, was sacked four times and failed to get anything started offensively in the second half.
New York had just six first downs while trying to rally in the second half with four of those on its final drive. The Jets also went three-and-out on three straight possessions and failed to run an offensive play inside Seattle’s 20 the entire game.
Greg Zuerlein hit a pair of 44-yard field goals for New York to account for all of its points.
”It stinks. It’s tough. It’s gut wrenching. It’s all the above. You can use whatever adjective you want to use to describe it,” White said. ”By no means is there moral victories, but in the grand scheme of things we are playing meaningful football late in the season. But also I think we’re at the point where we don’t care about moral victories.”
While the offensive struggles were significant, the failures weren’t isolated to that side of the ball. New York gave up a season-high 198 yards rushing to the Seahawks, and Seattle held the ball for nearly 34 minutes.
And that’s without the added layer of the Jets watching Smith celebrate beating his former team and keeping Seattle’s playoff hopes alive going into Week 18.
”We feel like we blew the season,” Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson said. ”We wanted a chance at the playoffs. … At the end of the day, that is what we wanted to do and to have a chance to prove ourselves beyond that. We didn’t get there, so we don’t feel good about it at all.”
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