With only a few days left in the 2013 season, and the Jets officially eliminated from the playoffs, you can’t help but wonder how much different this year might have gone had the team been able to steal a victory or two on the road.
Considering the Jets trail the three teams tied for the final playoff spot by one game in the loss column, their record away from home hangs over them like a dark cloud. While the Jets have won a solid six of their eight games at MetLife Stadium, they’ve been victorious just once in seven tries away from home.
Week Two against the New England Patriots is probably the road loss that stands out and stings the most. A three-point loss to the eventual division champions marred by dropped passes and turnovers, the Patriots were injury-plagued and as vulnerable as they were ever going to be.
But as much as the opportunity was there for the taking, it’s understandable Geno Smith would turn the ball over three times in the first road start of his career.
Unfortunately, Smith’s issues would only continue from there.
It’s no coincidence that Smith has thrown five more interceptions on the road than he has at home in one less game. A lack of confidence and asking him to do too much at times have been a reoccurring theme in those seven starts.
Smith also tends to completely abandon his running game, having gained 116 less yards on 20 fewer attempts.
One such instance where too much of the burden was placed on Smith’s shoulders was the team’s blowout loss in Tennessee against the Titans.
The offensive play calling that day was overly aggressive and the Jets were in the midst of a stretch where it seemed like they committed a penalty almost every other play.
After the Titans game, it seemed like the wheels were about to fall off. The Jets were beginning a brutal portion of their schedule, and with a second-straight road game up ahead, it looked like they were about to enter a freefall.
The Atlanta Falcons were off to a slow start back in early October, but many just assumed they would bounce back and figure things out. And with the Jets coming to town, it looked like the perfect time for them to do so.
Except out of nowhere, Smith played his best game up until that point – regardless of the venue – and the Jets pulled off what in Week Five looked like a huge upset.
In Atlanta, Smith showed poise like we hadn’t seen out of him before and had his first turnover-free game as a pro. He became the first rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to go on the road and throw for three touchdowns, zero interceptions and complete 80 percent of his passes.
Yet rather than riding the wave of momentum into a home contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jets were extremely conservative on offense and dropped what would turn out to be a huge game.
Though the Steelers and Jets both currently sport 7-8 records, the Steelers still remain alive for a postseason berth thanks to their head-to-head win over the Jets. And while Pittsburgh still needs all three teams in front of them to lose on Sunday in order to sneak into the playoffs, it sure beats the alternative.
The game against the Steelers marked one of three occasions this season when the Jets weren’t able to put together two good games when they needed them.
Following a big win at home against the Patriots, the team lost by 40 points in Cincinnati. Then, after shocking the New Orleans Saints at home, the Jets took their act on the road and were embarrassed by the last-place Buffalo Bills.
The losses to the Bengals and Bills were bad, but an abysmal showing in Baltimore against the Ravens really did the Jets in.
Scoring just three points, the Jets lost to a team they had to beat in order to keep their postseason hopes alive.
The Jets would lose the three games to the Bengals, Bills, and Ravens by a combined score of 105-26.
In their most recent road loss, the Jets were at least able to hang with the Carolina Panthers for three quarters before falling short. Not a masterpiece by any means, it was their most competitive performance away from home since the win over the Falcons.
Despite already being eliminated from playoff contention, the Jets have a lot to play for this Sunday in Miami.
The team’s new goals have become winning two games in a row for the first time this year and destroying the postseason dreams of the Dolphins.
It also wouldn’t hurt to close out the season on a positive note and play well on the road for a change.