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No fourth-quarter collapse for the Jets this time around

By Hillary Garza
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 03: Bilal Powell #29 of the New York Jets carries the ball as Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs defends on December 03, 2017 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The New York Jets defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 38-31. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 03: Bilal Powell #29 of the New York Jets carries the ball as Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs defends on December 03, 2017 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The New York Jets defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 38-31. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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The New York Jets rose to the occasion and refused to let another fourth-quarter meltdown happen again as they stunned the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 13.

The New York Jets finally “finished” a game today, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 38-31. And it’s been a long time coming. Indeed, the one fatal flaw all season has been the Jets’ inability to play strong football for all four quarters. Losses to Miami, New England, Atlanta, and Carolina were all similar in that the Jets imploded late. It is not unreasonable to suggest that the Jets’ record could be 9-3 right now as opposed to 5-7 if they were more efficient at closing games.

Keen viewers may have noticed some Jets players holding up four fingers at the end of the third quarter. The gesture was intended as a reminder to each other that “competitive” for three quarters doesn’t get it done in the NFL. Successful teams win games in the fourth quarter. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that the Jets once more found themselves in a tight game with the stage set for another fourth-quarter collapse.

With a slight three-point lead, a sense of gloom and doom was palpable heading into the fourth quarter. Would the Jets blow another late lead? Not quite, but they sure did make it close. When the fourth quarter started they were up by three points, and soon after, they added three more to go up by six, but all the Chiefs needed was a touchdown to pull ahead. And that is exactly what they did—almost immediately striking back. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw a perfectly timed pass to the speedy Tyreek Hill, who burned the Jets secondary all day. The fourth quarter demons were about to rear its ugly head.

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This time, however, the Jets fought back. Who knows, maybe holding up four fingers as a reminder to play the entire game worked? Perhaps, but what’s most important is that the Jets held it together, solving the puzzle that has been confounding them all season by walking away with a tough victory as opposed to an all-too-common fourth-quarter meltdown.

Just as equally gratifying, for a change it was nice to see a Jets opponent collapse late in the fourth quarter. Penalty flags rained down all around the Chiefs secondary, who could not stop clutching and grabbing Jets wide receivers. At one point, the level of frustration reached so high that a Chiefs player flung a penalty flag into the stands, which was quite humorous (and probably unprecedented; I can’t recall ever seeing that in a professional football game), especially since it wasn’t a Jets player who did it.

Looking ahead, while the Jets may have finally found some of the answers to its fourth-quarter meltdown problems, the playoffs are probably out of reach. A 5-7 record, with back-to-back tough road matchups against the Broncos and Saints, plus an eventual road game against the Patriots, means that we can safely assume that the Jets are pretty much playing out the rest of the season.

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Which is too bad, because it appears that the young players are not only developing but also may have learned to finally finish games. But this is just the beginning, they have to win consistently, especially when games are tight. Only then can we really start believing in this team.

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