The Jets returned home off their mixed road trip — one deflating blown lead, one rousing comeback win — to try to extend their winning streak to two games and Houston's losing skid to two in a rare late Saturday afternoon start at MetLife Stadium.
It looked like a mismatch since the Texans, before their loss to the Colts, had won nine straight and looked headed to an AFC playoff berth.
The Jets were still feeling it from their two-touchdown turnaround at Buffalo. They mounted their second comeback from an 11-points-plus deficit for a 22-19 lead with five minutes on the clock. But it wasn't enough to hold the Texans out for 10 late points and the 29-22 victory.
The Jets thus came back to earth at 4-10 with one more home game, against Green Bay next Sunday, and one more on the road, at New England, to wrap up their 2018 season. Houston rose to 10-4.
Here are 10 chronological takeaways from the Jets' loss to the Texans:
1. Could've Been Better, Could've Been Worse
The first drives went just the way the visitors liked, for the most part. The Jets' first drive went 3-and-out, with J.J. Watt getting the 10-yard third-down sack of Darnold. The Texans then moved into the red zone with a 24-yard keeper by Watson and an acrobatic 18-yard catch by DeAndre Hopkins. However, on third down Watson appeared to get out of the grasp of Henry Anderson for a long gain, only to have the play whistled dead by ref Brad Allen for a 13-yard sack. Kai'imi Fairbairn came on for a 41-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Images from the Week 15 Matchup at MetLife Stadium
2. Trey Bien
But Darnold & Co. came out much better on Drive No. 2, moving 67 yards on 12 plays in 7:22 before stalling at the Texans 8. Sam completed 3 of 6, including a 25-yarder to Robby Anderson, after taking a roughing-the-QB shot to the back from Jadeveon Clowney on the first play of the proceedings. Jason Myers came on like clockwork to hit from 26 yards and tie the score at 3-3. The FG made Myers 31-of-33 overall and 16-of-17 at MetLife.
3. First Big Strike
The Texans drove to another Fairbairn red zone field goal and a 6-3 lead. And the Jets looked like they were game to at least retie it. But Watt notched his sixth forced fumble of the season (tying him for the league lead) when he separated Elijah McGuire from the ball and DE Angele Blackson recovered at the Jets 46. Two plays later, S Darryl Roberts got turned around but Hopkins didn't, tumbling to the end zone turf with Watson's 45-yard TD strike and a 13-3 lead with 8:14 left in the first half.
4. Red Zone Redux
The visitors got another Fairbairn field goal, this one from 53 yards out, before the Green & White finally struck paydirt before the first half ended. Darnold moved the Jets from their 17 to his 5-yard on-the-run dart to Robby Anderson for the score. After going five red zone opportunities without scoring a touchdown, the Jets at this point had scored four TDs in their last five RZ forays. Myers missed the extra point, however, so they went in at halftime trailing, 16-9, yet ahead or even in most of the key metrics with 30 minutes to play.
5. My Touchdown with Andre
Suddenly, with their first drive of the second half, the Jets were very much in it. Darnold led the hosts 60 yards on eight plays, with a 20-yarder third-down completion to Robby Anderson and a 13-yarder to Andre Roberts off a double move past CB Shareece Wright for the touchdown — Roberts' first receiving score since 2016 with Detroit. Jason Myers, so good to this point, missed his second extra point of the game so the Jets still trailed, 16-15, with 8:39 left in the third quarter.
6. D Does a 180
But the defense, led by DL Henry Anderson's three sacks and five in all, was also suddenly alive and all over Watson and the Houston offense. On their first four drives, the Texans put together 177 drive yards for 16 points. On their next four they lost 11 yards and had no points.
7. 'Bairned Again
The Texans finally picked up a 50-yard chunk on a Watson-to-DeAndre Carter pass off of a Buster Skrine blitz, but again the defense held tough, this time on a Jamal Adams third-down sack of Watson. But again Fairbairn came on for a long FG, this one from 49 yards out, to go 4-for-4 on the night as the Texans opened it back up to 19-15 with 12:33 to play.
8. Moving the Chains and the Pile
Yet the Darnold Green & White machine wasn't done. They moved down the field with third down conversions by Darnold on third-and-1 keeper, then a completion to TE Chris Herndon, then a four-and-1 laser to Robby Anderson for a first-down at the Texans 19., then a third-and-10 14-yard scramble by Darnold, plus a half-the-distance penalty, to the 2. Finally McGuire got the call and, with a bunch of friends, moved the pile all the way across the goal line for another red zone TD and a 22-19 lead with 5:00 to play.
9. D-Hopping To It
Quickly, though, the Texans found their footing and drove right down the field to Watson's 14-yard strike to DeAndre Hopkins, who displayed his outstanding catch radius to snatch the ball away from CB Morris Claiborne for the score. That lifted Hopkins to 10 catches and 170 yards. And it put the visitors from Texas up, 26-22, with 2:15 left. Just a little two-minute drill for Darnold and the offense. Did they have it in them?
10. No Fantastic Finish
On first down, Darnold aired it out for Anderson into double coverage and the longball fell incomplete. Then a short completion to Roberts, a sack by Watt and another long ball that Anderson couldn't put away and it was loss on downs, Texans ball, and 1:52 to run out. Fairbairn's fifth field goal of the game made it 29-22 and after the kickoff the Jets had 54 seconds to go 75 yards for the tying score.