The New York Jets won a football game on Sunday for the first time in 358 days, but they might have suffered a loss that will be felt a lot longer than that.
With a 23-20 upset of the Los Angeles Rams, the Jets (1-13) relinquished their front-runner position for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
The Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars have the same record, but the Jaguars own the tiebreaker edge because they have played the weaker schedule. The Jets might have blown their shot at Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive top pick.
In any other season, a win over a quality team such as the Rams (9-5) would’ve triggered celebration among Jets fans. Not this time. The fan base has been buzzing about the prospect of selecting Lawrence, but the draft landscape has changed.
The Jets might have to turn their sights to another quarterback in the draft or stick with incumbent Sam Darnold, who passed for 207 yards and a touchdown in his most efficient performance of the campaign. He did it against the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
With the win, the Jets snapped a franchise-record 13-game losing streak.
The visiting Jets closed as 17-point underdogs versus Los Angeles. It was tied for the second-largest upset win for them in the Super Bowl era; the only one larger was the 1968 Pro Football Championship vs. Baltimore (+18).
It’s the third straight season an underdog of 17 points or more has won outright. From 1978 to 2017, there had been only three such upsets, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
As a result of Sunday’s decision, the Jets won’t join the 2017 Cleveland Browns and 2008 Detroit Lions as the only 0-16 teams in NFL history.
Unlike two weeks ago, when they blew a late lead to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Jets didn’t crumble in crunch time against the Rams. New York jumped to a 20-3 lead and didn’t lose its poise when the scoreboard read 23-20 in the fourth quarter. It was a gutty performance by the Jets’ defense, which played the fourth quarter without star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (head injury).