Fourth NFL preseason games are for bubble players. And several Jets players fighting for regular-season roster berths and roles popped, such as CB Derrick Jones, safety J.J. Wilcox, linebackers Neville Hewitt and Brandon Copeland and even recently signed veteran K Jason Myers.
It was enough to keep the Green & White ahead most of the way in tonight's finale against Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field, but in the last minute, the Eagles drove to a 4-yard touchdown pass from QB Joe Callahan to RB Matt Jones with 18 seconds to go.
Not only was that the first red zone TD scored against the Green & White all preseason, it was the first touchdown. It came on the defense's last play of summer. And it lifted the Eagles past the Jets 10-9.
The Birds came into the game at 0-3 but didn't go winless for the first time since 1976. The Jets slipped to 1-3 on the summer.
And whether the Jets bubble players' showing will secure them spots on the 53-man active roster for the regular-season opener at Detroit ono Sept. 10 won't be known until Friday and Saturday, when the Jets move 26 players in their final cutdown, and of course the active roster can be fluid all next week as well.
The Jets' loss came in the 18th consecutive preseason game against their green friends, the Eagles, a series that is tied for the third-longest current consecutive streak among NFL preseason rivalries. The teams have met 40 times in all, with the Jets now leading the series (24-15 before tonight).
Here are seven quick hitters on the Jets' performance tonight:
1. The Veteran
One day after the trade of Teddy Bridgewater to the Saints, Jets HC Todd Bowles revealed his QB rotation in this game. Rookie Sam Darnold stayed on the sideline. Josh McCown, the 16th-year vet and last season's 13-game starter, got the starting nod and ran the visitors' first four drives, producing one field goal (see No. 2 below).
2. The (Other) Rookie
Then rookie FA Chris Wolford, signed last week, came on in the second quarter. He struggled as would be expected, completing eight of 20 passes for 89 yards and an interception. He had two short drives to the Eagles 1 but the offense couldn't punch it in either time. In the second quarter the Jets went for it on fourth down and were stoned by the Birds D, and the second time Taylor Bertolet kicked a 19-yard field goal on his first kick of the game at the top of the fourth quarter.
3. Long-Distance Jason
The Jets other kicks to that point were handled by fourth-year vet Myers, signed last week. Myers came on for a 58-yard field goal try with 8:27 left in the opening period and dropped it through. It was one of the three longest FGs in any Jets game since 1970, the other two being John Hall from 59 yards at Philly in 2001 and Nick Folk from 58 at the Linc in '12. Myers followed that kick up with another kickoff through the end zone for a touchback, one of his specialties. Late in the third quarter, Myers added a 43-yarder for a 6-3 lead and another TB on the ensuing KO.
3. Cannon Fire
Rookie RB/KR Trenton Cannon saw lots of playing time. He had 29 yards on 11 carries with a long of 16 yards and was targeted on two passes that he couldn't hold. Cannon's biggest contributions came on specials, with a 25-yard kickoff return a 31-yard punt return, the Green & White's longest in the last two summers.
4. Active Linebackers I
Jets Rookie FA Frankie Luvu, trying to earn a spot at OLB, threw his weight around a bit in the opening quarter. He was first to down Eagles QB Joe Callahan after a muffed shotgun snap that Callahan covered, and he tracked down rookie RB Josh Adams for no gain late in the period. But Luvu was then flagged for a blindside block on CB Juston Burris' interception return.
5. Active Linebackers II
Copeland got the first sack of the game on a shoestring takedown of Christian Hackenberg, playing for the Eagles in his first NFL game of any kind since he played for the Jets against the Eagles in last year's preseason finale at MetLife Stadium. And ILB Hewitt, who has shown up on defense and special teams this preseason, led all tacklers on both teams with six first-half tackles.
6. Takeaways from Hack
The Jets' second and third defenses treated Hackenberg badly with three takeaways. The first was the pick by Burris. Then it was Wilcox's turn. He returned a second-quarter pick to the Eagles 8. Then late in the third, Hackenberg took off on another of his six scrambles (for a game-high 66 yards), but at the end of this one, Wilcox was waiting to jar the ball loose from Hack's grip with DL Xavier Cooper making contact from behind and then pouncing on the loose ball.
7. No Bones About It
Derrick Jones had a good deep game for the Jets secondary. In the first quarter he deflected a Joe Callahan deep ball near the goal line. For an encore, with 4:10 to play he was in coverage when Callahan, back in the game for Hackenberg, tried to find WR Rashard Davis in the end zone. Jones came down with the leaping pick for the touchback.
That was the Jets' fourth takeaway on the night, their second-most in a preseason game in eight years. They had five TAs in 2010 at Carolina and five in the '16 PS finale at Philly.