All week the Jets worked on their fourth-quarter mentality. Offensive coordinator John Morton held four fingers up when appropriate. Todd Bowles mapped out fourth-quarter periods. It was all in a general attempt to get the team focused on a better fourth-quarter performance and in particular to beat back the visiting Chiefs and QB Alex Smith, one of the best comeback QBs in the NFL.
The Jets, who fell behind 14-0, came roaring back to ultimately uphold their practice focus as the offense drove to QB Josh McCown's second keeper TD of the game and a 38-31 lead with 2:15 to play. Then the Green & White defense bent but didn't break, forcing Smith into three straight incompletions from their 19 to turn the ball over on downs with 45 seconds left. McCown was very happy not to rush but to kneel twice to secure the 38-31 victory.
For the afternoon the offense gained 488 yards, 30 first downs and 42:49 in possession time. McCown threw for 331 yards and Jermaine Kearse (9 catches, 157 yards) and Robby Anderson (8-107) became the first Jets receivers to notch 100-yard games together in back-to-back games since Don Maynard and George Sauer in 1967.
So two teams got together at MetLife to try to break out of separate five-losses-in-six-games slumps. The Green & White succeeded, improving to 5-7 with a trip to Denver ahead. The Chiefs fell to 6-6 and lost their sixth straight in the Meadowlands (four to the Jets, two to the Giants).
Here are nine chronological takeaways to the Green & White's satisfying win over their longtime AFL/AFC rivals:
1. Down the Field—TwiceSmith did not look like a struggling QB as he engineered a five-play opening drive that included 4-for-4 passing, all completions for first downs and the final throw for 22 yards to TE Travis Kelce, who crossed the goal line untouched for the opening score and a 7-0 lead.
Then the Jets offense went 3-and-out and Smith came right back with a first-play play-action long ball to Kelce, who got past Marcus Maye for another touchdown completion, this one for 36 yards and a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the proceedings.
Top Snapshots from the Week 12 Matchup Inside MetLife Stadium
3. AwakeningMcCown and the "O" got their wakeup call and from there moved crisply 75 yards on nine plays, with the capper Bilal Powell's dance around his left side behind an Austin Seferian-Jenkins block for a 1-yard score with 6:10 to play in the opening frame. The Jets were back in it at 14-7 down.
4. Fit To Be TiedAfter a defensive 3-and-out, the Green & White churned out another three-quarters-of-the-field scoring drive. McCown was the star on this one, hitting Jermaine Kearse for a 44-yard completion. Then he kept for the Jets' first third-and-1 conversion in six games to the KC-8, and kept twice again at the goal line, once to the one-foot line (the Jets challenged that he scored and lost), and again for his fourth TD run of the season. The result was a 14-14 tie, the first 28-point first quarter in a Jets game since 1991, and a competitive affair.
5. KC Retakes the LeadWhen Harrison Butker's 38-yard field goal try from the left hash went wide right, the Jets were in line to take their first lead of the day. The offense stalled around midfield, and Lachlan Edwards' drop punt was downed at the KC-14. From there Smith appeared to be in danger of a sack — except he escaped up the middle en route to a 70-yard run, longest by an opposing QB in Jets history. But that was followed by the defense's first two sacks of Smith and another Butker FG try, this one good from 36 for a 17-14 KC lead.
6. Then the Jets Are on TopThe Jets offense got moving big-time one more time in the opening half, to McCown's first TD strike of the day and Matt Forte's 21st receiving TD as a pro and his second as a Jet. It came on third-and-goal from 11 yards out, over the middle with no timeouts left in the half, and withstood another booth replay review. McCown was 7-for-8 on the drive, no completion longer than a 14-yarder to Robby Anderson.
7. Long and ShortThe Green & White opened a 24-17 lead on Chandler Catanzaro's 27-yard field goal but KC struck back immediately for the 24-24 tie when Smith loaded up and hit WR Tyreek Hill in stride past CB Rashard Robinson's single coverage for a 79-yard TD. But the Jets got a lot of that back on a 26-yard Anderson catch and 15-yard late hit on McCown, and that helped set up Catanzaro's 47-yarder to put the home side back on top 27-24, which is where it stood heading into that pivotal fourth quarter.
8. Another Bolt from the RedThe start of the fourth quarter was good for the Jets, who worked on that problem frame all week, as Catanzaro made it 3-for-3 with a 38-yarder for a 30-24 lead. Then Smith and Hill struck against the Jets secondary again, with a 40-yard hookup against Mo Claiborne in single coverage. Butker's PAT made it KC, 31-30.
9. The Big Go-AheadAll the fourth-quarter practice work during the week was going to pay off or not. The Jets made the emphasis appear to pay off as they marched 76 yards on 14 plays to McCown's second 1-yard keeper and a 36-31 lead with 2:15 to play. The Jets went for two and McCown was chased into an incompletion, but CB Steve Nelson was flagged for holding in the end zone and CB Marcus Peters was ejected for throwing the yellow flag in anger. Then Elijah McGuire ran in the deuce around left end from the 1 and the Green & White opened a 38-31 lead, setting up the closing minutes captured in the lead-in paragraphs above.