The Jets traveled two-thirds of the country to try to add to the Denver Broncos' woes, not to mention their eight-game losing streak, their longest in a half-century.
But any momentum the Green & White had from their comeback home win over the Chiefs dissipated into the thin road air. The prohibitive possession time, third-down mastery and red zone excellence displayed near the East Coast were not available in the first three quarters in the Mountain Time Zone.
As a result, the Broncos opened up a 10-0 lead on their first two drives, then gradually expanded the lead the rest of the way for the 23-0 win.
The Jets fell to 5-8 with next week's road game at New Orleans ahead, while Denver improved to 4-9. It was the Jets' first shutout loss since San Diego in '14, and the Broncos' first shutout win since their 2005 blanking of the Jets at home, 27-0.
Here are seven chronological takeaways from today's game:
1. Another Slow Start
For the second straight game, the Jets fell behind after three drives by two scores against an AFC West opponent. This foe was to the Broncos, who opened a 10-0 lead in the first 7:44 off an opening-drive Brandon McManus field goal and a Trevor Siemian-to-Demaryius Thomas 20-yard scoring strike after Josh McMahon's strip sack on the Jets' third offensive play. It was Denver's largest first-half lead in the last nine games.
2. Rocky Mountain Reprieve?
The visitors dodged a bullet and a 13-0 deficit when McManus' second field goal, on the first play of the second quarter, sailed wide left. Indeed, the Green & White moved into plus territory when McCown, who had five rushing first downs vs. KC, the most by a Jets QB since at least 1990, scrambled for a first down.
Josh didn't slide, though, and left the field with an injury for two plays as Bryce Petty got his first snaps of the season. But McCown returned and immediately had a missed hookup with Robby Anderson that produced an interception by S Darian Stewart.
3. In-Game Dings
The Jets came into the game in good health but issues began before McCown's injury issues. Rookie RB Elijah McGuire started the game, took the first carry, then left. Rookie long-snapper Thomas Hennessy left the field after a tackle attempt on a punt return and was replaced by backup LS Eric Tomlinson. Yes, the backup tight end. And G Brian Winters, who's been battling abdomen and ankle injuries for several weeks, hobbled off before Tomlinson came on. ET's long snaps weren't as laser-like as Hennessy's but he still found Lachlan Edwards' hands on each of his seven punt snaps.
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4. Three More for the LR
Jets LB David Bass' third sack of the season on second down seemed to set the stage for a third-down stop and Denver punt. But the Broncos got it down to fourth-and-1 at the Jets 45, HC Vance Joseph decided to go for it, and Siemian playfaked, rolled and tossed to Thomas for 5 yards to move the chains. The new set of downs was just enough for McManus, who rocked a 53-yard field goal through for a 13-0 lead. That became the Broncs' only lead at the half in the last nine games when the Jets kneeled to run out the last 32 seconds as Bowles decided to start fresh with the third-quarter kickoff.
5. Second-Half Restart?
The Green & White took the second-half, gained one first down, then punted. And the Broncos applied some orange crush to the visitors' spirits with a 13-play, 68-yard march to FB Andy Janovich's first TD of the season from a yard out after the defense stoned Denver's first two runs by C.J. Anderson. That made it 20-0 and the Jets were going to need a comeback effort like they got in 1978 to overcome a 28-7 deficit for a 31-28 victory.
6. Fourth ... and Short
McCown was getting battered around by the Broncos pass rush to the point that he had to go to the locker room holding his left forearm. Petty returned and the offense picked up two first downs as it moved across midfield. But on fourth-and-3 from the DEN-41, Bowles decided to go for it. Petty appeared to have Jermaine Kearse for the first down but overthrew him. The Broncos took over and then moved to the Jets 18 before settling for McManus' 40-yarder and a 23-0 lead with 11:33 to play.
7. DD Tackles Not Enough
Demario Davis was doing his best to keep the Jets' defense in this one. He had a game-leading 12 tackles midway through the fourth quarter as the Broncos' ground game had been held to 35 carries for 84 yards, and the Broncos had only 273 for the game. But it was not enough to stop the Denver paper cuts that opened leads gradually, from three to 10 to 13 to 20 to 23 points. The Jets finished with 100 yards from scrimmage.