Updated, 6:45 p.m. ET
The Jets and Rams both entered today's game at MetLife Stadium with three wins and seasons on the brink. Bryce Petty was getting the start for sore-kneed Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB for the Green & White, and fans know a second-year man in his first pro start could go one of several ways.
The game turned into something the Rams have played a lot this year — a defensive struggle — as the visitors from the West Coast took a three-point lead into the last 2:55. That's when Petty, who played a conservative but turnover-free game to that point, threw his first pick at midfield, sealing the Rams' 9-6 win.
"It's the same feeling — every loss hurts," WR Brandon Marshall said as the Jets fell to 3-7 heading into their bye week. "We're not playing good football right now. ... We knew coming in it was going to be a 10-6 ballgame and come down to the last possession. We had it and we just didn't finish strong.
"They played better than us," head coach Todd Bowles said. "We played hard. They played hard. It was a tough battle and they made one more play than we did."
"I learned a lot out there," said Petty, who completed 19 of 32 for 163 yards, a TD and the interception. "I knew there were going to be bumps and bruises. There were definitely plays to be made out there by myself. We'll learn from it and move on."
Here are nine observations on the unfolding game, the Jets' first loss since 2010 to a team that didn't score a touchdown:
1. Third Down Struggles
The Jets defense struggled on third down on its first two series, allowing Los Angeles to convert four of five. But on the opening drive, the goal line defense roared to life to hold the Rams to a Greg Zeuerlein field goal after first-and-goal at the 1. Then the TFL guys showed up on consecutive plays, with Sheldon Richardson throwing Todd Gurley for a 6-yard loss on a toss to force a punt.
2. Petty Time
Bryce Petty's first possession as a Jets starter was an uneventful 3-and-out. His second was one for the record books — a 99-yard drive to a nifty short hook-and-ladder toss to Brandon Marshall, who lateraled to Bilal Powell for the go-ahead score. The big play on the drive: Petty's drop-in-the-bucket 52-yarder to Robby Anderson against CB E.J. Gaines down the left sideline to get the offense out of its 1-yard-line hole. It was only the fourth 99-yard drive since 1963 for the Green & White and the first since 1995.
"We'd been working on that play ... I think we may have even installed that in camp. We've worked it every week," Marshall said. "That was a good play."
3. On the RebounD
The Jets D righted itself after that opening drive, allowing 77 yards on four possessions. Lorenzo Mauldin was again around the QB, getting a half-sack of Case Keenum. So was NT Steve McLendon, who had a sack and a half. And David Harris was firm in the middle with a couple of tackles at the line, one in the backfield, a half-sack, a pass batted down behind the line in the third quarter, and the team leadership with 11 tackles as usual.
4. Marshall Plan
Petty wasn't finding Brandon Marshall too well (four catches, 15 yards). But Marshall again drew a flag on the opposition, a third-down hold on Lamarcus Joyner. It was the ninth game in a row that Marshall has forced at least one penalty, and he was up to 13 penalties on opponents, nine accepted, for 114 yards marked off.
Top Photos from the Week 10 Action at MetLife Stadium
5. 90 Yards of Real Estate
The Jets had to dig themselves out of almost as deep field position after Jalin Marshall muffed a punt return, then returned it for a loss of 2 yards, with another 10 yards tackled on for Nick Marshall's block in the back. When it was done, the Jets had first down at their 9. Petty got the offense out to the 32 but proved to be human when he had Anderson for a potential 68-yard TD after he was turned loose down the right sideline. But the third-down throw sailed high and the Jets punted.
Petty: "Those are the plays in this kind of game that you have to make, and I missed that."
Matt Forte, a.k.a. "the Workhorse," was doing his part in making Petty's transition into this starting gig a smooth one with a 28-yard gallop on the first-half TD drive and a 23-yarder in the third frame that the hosts couldn't capitalize on. Forté wound up with 98 yards on 20 carries and 11 more on two receptions for 109 yards from scrimmage.
7. Butting Away
The Rams had punted five times in a row, with the last three of them 3-and-outs. They had to manufacture something and they did that with a couple of Keenum head-first scrambles and then a few swing passes to WR Tavon Austin, the second going for 20 yards. That gave them their second drive inside the Jets 10, but again the red zone "D" from last year reappeared, forcing the visitors from La-La Land back to the 20 before settling for another Zeuerlein field goal and a 6-6 tie late in the third quarter.
8. Field Position Loss
The Jets held an opponent without a TD through three quarters at home for the first time since 2014 vs. Miami, but they lost that one, 16-13. This time they lost a field position exchange when the Rams' Johnny Hekker bombed a 78-yard punt — longest vs. the Jets since 1999 — that Jalin Marshall caught over his shoulder and returned to the 15. The Jets' subsequent punt set the Rams up at their 48 with 10:52 to play for another march into the red zone, another Jets stop, and Zeuerlein's third FG for a 9-6 lead.
The Jets defense got their last third-down stop and punt. Then with 2:55 to play it was up to the offense, which was 4-for-7 on third downs in the first half but 0-for-5 in the second half, to make some conversions and move at least into Nick Folk's range. It didn't happen as Petty completed three passes but then produced the game's first turnover, an interception that LB Alec Ogletree wrenched away from Quincy Enunwa. Three kneeldowns later, it was over.
"We have a week off," Bowles said. "We have to get healthy. We have to get better and find a way to close ballgames. We were in the game. We're in every ballgame. We're not finishing at the end, whether something happens in the middle of the game or whatever. We have to find a way to finish."