Against the NFL's second-ranked defense, Jets quarterback Josh McCown threw for three touchdowns and eclipsed the 300-yard mark for the first time this season. But McCown's fourth quarter fumble — the game's only turnover — led to a key scoop-and-score for the Panthers as the Jets failed to finish late and fell to 4-7 with a 35-27 loss to the Panthers.
The Green & White held a 20-18 lead with 12:41 remaining in regulation on their 45-yard line when a miscommunication up front led to a free blitz. Panthers DE Wes Horton got to McCown, who fumbled while trying to throw the ball away, and LB Luke Keuchly picked up the loose ball and took it the other way for a 34-yard touchdown that gave Carolina a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"We had several possessions behind the sticks and I wasn't trying to take another third-and-long," McCown said of the play. "I was trying to dirt it to Lawrence Thomas and they got to me before I could get it out. In hindsight, I wish I would've tucked it and just ate it."
Even though McCown's performance will be highlighted by the turnover, the offense moved the ball as he completed 19 of his 36 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns for a rating of 109.4. The 38-year-old gunslinger completed passes to seven different players, but wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse led the way as they combined for 251 yards and three touchdowns on 13 receptions. Of the Jets' 21 first downs, the unit converted 14 of them through the air.
"We're proud of the things that we did as far as moving the ball when we did," McCown said. "But those things hurt you because you look at the self-inflicted mistakes and you know that you could have put yourself in a position to win the ball game. We still had a chance, but we should have won the game. We've got to figure out a way not to let those things happen."
Despite McCown late miscue, the offense had other opportunities to put additional points on the board. On their opening drive, Austin Seferian-Jenkins dropped what would have given the Green & White a 7-3 lead. Instead, the Jets settled for a field goal. In the fourth quarter, the team settled for three again as they couldn't find the end zone despite having a first-and-goal from the Panthers' 1-yard line. Seferian-Jenkins came down with a fade on second down, but the call was overturned upon review.
"This one stings," McCown said. "To be up in the fourth quarter and not finish it, we've got to find a way to execute that and be better. We're still trying to do that. Like we said all year, we're a young team. We'd love to get over that hump, and obviously we need to do it pretty quick."