With all the newness going on inside MetLife Stadium today, the icing on the cake would have been an opening-day victory for the Jets.
But after leading most of the game, the Jets didn't have that in them. Despite good first games as Jets for Le'Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley and several others, despite four first-half takeaways by the defense, and in Adam Gase's first game as head coach of the Green & White, the Jets fell from behind in a 17-16 loss to the Bills in both teams' season opener. Buffalo pulled away in the yardage war, 370-227.
Here are three observations as the Jets' imperfect but promising first three quarters evaporated in the Bills' determined fourth-quarter comeback:
1. D-Lightful Start
Many Jets fans were excited to see the Sam Darnold-Bell-Jamison Crowder offense get percolating, but the first quarter belonged to the Jets defense. Josh Allen and the Bills drove the field to the Jets 26 before the D struck for the first time, when LB Jordan Jenkins notched his fifth career strip sack and Steve McLendon pounced on Allen's fumble. That drive didn't produce points, but Lachlan Edwards' 44-yard net punt inside the 20 set the Bills up for the Jets' next takeaway, MLB C.J. Mosley's interception on a pass tipped by WR Cole Beasley that Mosley took 17 yards to the end zone. It was Mosley's third career score and the first by a Jets LB at home since Mark Brown went 33 yards vs. the Bills way back in 2005. After Kaare Vedvik's missed extra point it was 6-0, Jets, just 4:26 into the game.
See Best Images from the Season Opener
2. Offense: Start Them Up?
The offense had a sluggish first half to say the least. Darnold was a modest 9-for-15 passing for 81 yards and was sacked three times and the Bills outgained the Jets 167 yards to 104 at the break. The biggest failing, though, was in capitalizing on takeaways. The Jets had four first-half TAs since 2011, for the first-time at home since 2008, for the first time at home in an opener since ever. But all the home team could produce was the Mosley TD return. Two takeaways led to punts and the fourth one, batted by Henry Anderson to Neville Hewitt, led to a bobbled FG snap and Vedvik's second miss, from 45 yards out with 26 seconds left in the first half as the Jets still held that slim 6-0 margin at the intermission.
3. Negating That Rare 10-Point Play
The Jets put together the first "10-point play" in franchise history — a safety as the D stacked up Frank Gore at the goal line, followed by a drive after the free kick to Darnold's 11-yard TD pass to Bell for his first TD as a Jet, followed by a two-point heave to Bell in the back of the end zone for a 16-0 lead with 7:01 left in the third quarter. But it wasn't enough. Allen put aside his generous ways with a pair of fourth-quarter TD drives, to his 3-yard keeper and then to a 38-yard strike to WR John Brown past CB Darryl Roberts. Along with Stephen Hauschka's third-period FG, the 17 unanswered points overcame the Jets' 16-0 lead and the offense could get only two first downs to the Jets 40 before Darnold threw four incompletions and the Bills ran out all but 12 seconds on the clock.