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Bowles Punts on Game, Maybe Season



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    Todd, you gotta go for it. 

    When you’re playing the offensive machine that is the Pittsburgh Steelers, and you’re somehow still in the game -- admittedly just barely -- and you need just 2 yards to stay in the game ... you gotta go for it. 

    When giving Pittsburgh back the ball with less than 10 minutes to go and an 11-point lead effectively waves the white flag -- OK, terrible towel -- you gotta go for it. 

    When you’re staring at 1-4 and so badly in need of an enormous W and your QB has finally had a pretty decent day -- no INTs!!! -- you gotta go for it. 

    Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

    Well, Jets coach Todd Bowles thought otherwise on Sunday. Bowles is a solid coach. He was the right call when Woody Johnson and Co. hired him before the 2015 season, and he still is. 

    And we all knew that Gang Green was in for a rough start in 2016, with a murderers’ row of a schedule that would send any team shuddering. 

    We know the Steelers are clearly the better team, we know they’re playing at home, we know the Jets have been clumsy on offense and ineffective on defense through the season’s first quarter. 

    Again, all of that considered, all the more reason to go for it. 

    Instead, Bowles had his team punt away the ball -- and, in reality, the game --Sunday at Heinz Field, and history says the Jets’ chances of making the playoffs now are basically nil. 

    As someone who thought the Jets would be 1-4 at this point, and would go on to beat everyone but the Pats, I’m in a position to differ regarding postseason hopes. 

    But I can’t, because the way the Jets have played so far, they’d have a losing record even with a middle-of-the-road schedule. 

    Even after Sunday's relatively mistake-free effort -- Bowles’ bonehead decision aside -- the Jets have 13 turnovers through five games, among the very worst in the league. They’re surrendering 27 points a game, also near the bottom. And while they’ve racked up a dozen sacks already, they’re not getting pressure on opposing passers with anything resembling consistency. Ben Roethlisberger had an eternity to throw, and that’s just unfair, considering he’s one of the best in the world even when he’s under fire. 

    The Jets’ few stars haven’t been themselves. Brandon Marshall is as tough as any receiver in football, but he’s been targeted by Ryan Fitzpatrick 54 times this season, and has come away with the ball on just 24 of those. Darrelle Revis is a shadow of his former self. In fact, speaking of shadows, he couldn’t cover his own. At 32, Nick Mangold seems to be fossilizing right before our eyes. He entered Sunday's game banged up, and left needing assistance after suffering a knee injury in the third quarter. 

    Still, despite all the negatives, the visitors had a shot to shock the Steelers - and the world -- and maybe start turning their season around. And, for some reason I can’t fathom, their head coach kicked it away. 

    Pete Zwiebach writes about the Jets for Zwiebach lives in New York City with his wife and two kids, who without fail manage to block his view of the TV whenever a game-changing play occurs.