On Sunday the New York Jets (6-7) traveled to North Carolina to play the Carolina Panthers (9-4) in the hope of keeping their playoff hopes alive with a win. They lost 30-20, ending almost any chance of that for the 2013 season, but they can play the spoiler role in one of the two remaining games. Next Sunday the Jets return home to play the Cleveland Browns first, then visit the Dolphins in Miami.
On the opening drive for Carolina, Muhammad Wilkerson took down Cam Newton for a sack to end the possession. As the Jets started their following drive from the 12 yard line, they got one yard from Chris Ivory, eight more on a pass to Jeff Cumberland, then Geno Smith ran it himself for the first down plus. After that the drive stalled and Captain Munnerlyn sacked Smith to end it. The next Panthers possession saw Calvin Pace sack Newton, forcing a Graham Gano 35-yard field goal. Bilal Powell got five yards on second down to start the next Jets drive. Then Smith found David Nelson to the 41 yard line for a first down. A pitch/end around to Saalim Hakim netted seven yards on first down, then Ivory rumbled to the Panthers 47 yard line for another first down. Smith threw a bullet to Nelson for yet another first down. Greg Hardy sacked Smith on second down to eventually force a long field goal try of 54 yards by Nick Folk that he connected on to tie the game.
Carolina drove down to begin the period but the Jets defense stiffened after first and goal at the three yard line, only allowing another Gano field goal of 22 yards. The Jets got their next drive going with a Smith pass to Nelson on third down to advance to the 41 yard line. Ivory ran through a huge hole on the left side for 35 yards on the next play, then Powell moved the ball to the nine yard line. Unfortunately from there they stalled and Folk wound up making a 33-yard field goal after a delay of game penalty. The next drive was a screen pass to DeAngelo Williams that netted the Panthers a touchdown as Williams ran 72 yards for the score, since Dee Milliner could not fight off a block and Ed Reed bit on a fake by Newton. Quinton Coples recorded a sack of Newton before halftime, but Gano made a 40-yard field goal on the same drive.
On the first play of the Jets opening drive, Smith was ripped down by Munnerlyn for another sack and the Jets were forced to punt. The Panthers drove and on a fourth down and two yard play were stopped with a Coples hit on Newton forcing the turnover on downs to the Jets. Ivory gained seven yards on first down, then Smith ran it himself for the first down plus. On third down Smith found Cumberland who ran along the left side of the field to the 28 yard line. A screen pass to Powell moved the ball another 13 yards down to the 15 yard line. A pass interference penalty by Melvin White on Santonio Holmes gave the Jets a first and goal at the two. Sheldon Richardson reported in as the fullback and gained one yard on first down then one more on second down to give the Jets a touchdown.
On the Jets next possession the punt by Quigley was blocked, which put the Panthers at the Jets 14 yard line. Mike Tolbert eventually walked it in from the half yard line for the touchdown to put the Panthers up 23-13. Holmes got his first catch of the game for nine yards on the first play of the Jets subsequent drive. Geno Smith ran behind his line for the yard needed on third down to get the first down. A few plays later, however, Smith tried to force a throw to Holmes into double coverage and Munnerlyn picked him off and ran it back for another score. On second down on the Jets next drive, Smith ran for all but the one yard needed for a first down, but a short pass to Tommy Bohanon got them that. A few plays later Smith finally connected with Jeremy Kerley to the Panthers 24 yard line. On third and six from the eight yard line Smith found Cumberland for the touchdown to make it 30-20. The onside kick attempt failed with 3:49 remaining in the game. Three Jets timeouts and a Panthers first down later, the game was over.
The New York Jets (6-8) will be playing out the string in their final game if they cannot get past the Cleveland Browns (4-10). Soon may be the time for some younger players to see more playing time to start to evaluate them for next season.
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