The Jets hadn't swept a three-game homestand since 1974, and they knew it would be tough to complete their current homestand at 3-0 against a talented Minnesota team in the suddenly cold winds of MetLife Stadium.
The Green & White defense showed up well early on against the Kirk Cousins-led Vikings offense, holding them to 106 yards and 10 points at halftime. But Sam Darnold and the Jets offense had trouble sustaining drives, the special teams had some unusual issues, and a field position imbalance built up for much of the afternoon. As a result, the Jets lost at home to the Vikes (4-2-1) for the first time in six all-time meetings, 37-17, and fell to 3-4 on the season.
Already struggling with injuries at WR and DB, the Jets lost S Doug Middleton (shoulder) and RB Bilal Powell (neck) during the game and couldn't mount a comeback until a fourth-quarter drive to a Darnold 1-yard keeper cut it to 27-17 with 10:27 to play. But Cousins laid a fourth-down TD pass to WR Aldrick Robinson over CB Morris Claiborne's coverage in the end zone to make it 34-17 with 5:16 to play.
Here are eight more observations as the Jets-Vikings game unfolded:
1. Quick Strike
It didn't take Cousins and favorite wideout Adam Thielen long to strike. Cousins got CB Darryl Roberts in single coverage on Thielen, who caught the 34-yard go-route from Cousins for the score on the fourth offensive play just 1:38 into festivities. It was a Jets opponent's first opening-drive TD this season and gave the visitors a 7-0 lead. Thielen would end with nine catches for 110 yards.
2. Air Response
After two quiet opening drives, Darnold and his receivers, new and old, moved smartly to a tying TD. Darnold hit RB Trenton Cannon out of the backfield for the rookie's first pro catch, a 35-yarder. Then came a 25-yarder to Robby Anderson on a crossing route, then a 12-yard laser to rookie TE Chris Herndon in the front of the end zone for Herndon's second pro TD, both coming in the last two weeks, to tie it with 1:01 left in the opening frame.
3. Dodging a Purple Bullet
The Jets' specialists struggled with Andre Roberts' muffed punt return, which he recovered, and a mishandled snap by P Lachlan Edwards, who got off the punt but for only 28 yards. Minnesota cashed in the short field with a Dan Bailey 26-yard field goal, although the Jets defense came up with big plays near their goal line — Henry Anderson batting a Cousins pass at the LOS and Middleton jarring loose a near-TD pass from the grasp of TE Kyle Rudolph in the end zone.
4. Just Wind, Baby
The first half was a punt-fest, with the teams combining for 11 punts after going 0-for-11 on third downs. The Jets' last punt of the half, from just inside their back line, gave the visitors another short field at the Jets 31. But again the defense reined in Cousins and then Bailey came on for a 42-yard FG try — and his kick was blown left and short by the sometimes strong Meadowlands gusts. The Jets couldn't move with 42 seconds left and so took a 10-7 deficit in at half, knowing they'd get the ball first to start the second half.
5. Ten the Quick Way
It was running game by attrition as the Jets lost Powell in the second quarter and the Vikes came in with Latavius Murray shouldering the load while Dalvin Cook sat out again. Murray, who ran for 113 yards on 20 carries for Oakland vs. the Jets in 2015, had 13 yards on seven carries at the half but burst up the middle for an 11-yard TD with 8:15 to play. Then on the next play from scrimmage, S Harrison Smith returned a deep deflection of a Darnold force for Anderson to the Jets 9. Bailey came in for a 22-yard FG to make it 20-7 with 5:49 to go in the third.
Top Photos from the Week 7 Matchup in MetLife Stadium
6. That Myers Touch
Andre Roberts broke free for a 53-yard kickoff return into Vikes territory after that field goal. The Jets offense was still finding trouble moving as both Crowell and TE Eric Tomlinson dropped passes. But Jason Myers came on and, with the wind, dropped a 55-yard field goal over the north crossbar to cut the Vikes' lead to 20-10. It was Myers' second 55-yarder this season (his first came vs. Miami in Game 2), making him the first Jets kicker to convert two 55-plus-yarders in the same season.
7. More Murray
Another bad field position exchange resulted in a Vikings 27-10 lead 1:22 into the fourth quarter. On the second play from near midfield, with S Jamal Adams run-blitzing from the Minny left, Murray got the handoff right, then cut it back left into open field and reached the end zone uncontested 38 yards later for his second rushing score of the game.
8. Comeback Try
The Jets offense finally got cranking again, but was it too late. Darnold led a nine-play, 59-yard drive which was almost crowned with Herndon's second TD of the day. A replay review reversed that to ball at the 1-foot line, but from there Darnold kept for the score to cut the Vikes' lead to 27-17 with 10:27 to play and open a small window. Then after the defense's seventh 3-and-out stop of the game, Darnold & Co. got the ball back at their 43. But Darnold, trying to find Andre Roberts downfield, instead threw his second pick of the game, to CB Holton Hill. A third, by CB Trae Waynes, would follow soon after, and that window slammed shut.