Three long first-half drives. Three first-half field goals.
"If one of those drives is a touchdown. ... You can play the what-if game all day long," Jets QB Sam Darnold said. "But they weren't. They were field goals. Obviously, I have to finish better."
For the second straight week, the Jets' offense went dark in the second half, opening the game's final 30 minutes with a threesome of threes-and-out. Any hint of the quickly fading daylight was extinguished in a 35-9 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
Trailing, 21-9, with time about to expire in the first half, a field-goal attempt by Sergio Castillo, his fourth of the half, was blocked.
"The guys were pissed going into the locker room," Head Coach Adam Gase said. "We thought we were going to steal three and come back with the ball [to start the second half]. The chatter in locker was good. There were a lot of good things we took out of the first half."
In that first half, the offense, led by Darnold's 12 of 18 for 107 yards, constructed drives that took 6:29, 3:15 and 7:02 -- all leading to field goals. The Jets had the ball for 17:44, more than 5:30 than the Chiefs, but KC QB Patrick Mahomes still hurled three emphatic TD passes.
What happened in Kansas City happened last week in the Jets' loss to Buffalo. Thirty minutes. Few yards. No points.
"Yeah, I mean, the first couple drives [of the second half] were three-and-out, which, obviously, isn't ideal and then we kind of got a rhythm going," Darnold said. "The fumble [by TE Chris Herndon] killed us, just momentum-wise and being able to get down the field. I think for us we were on a good drive there and I think if we, hopefully, score seven there it's a different ballgame. But instead they get the turnover and go down and score. It's something you can't do against a good Kansas City team. Yeah, we've just got to play better in the second half."
Actually, the Jets were already trailing, 28-9, when Herndon fumbled, a fumble which came on the play after the Jets' first -- and only -- first down of the second half. The Chiefs did not score again until their second series after the fumble.
In the fourth quarter, Darnold was forced to scramble on third-and-10 and was sandwiched by Tershawn Wharton and Tonah Kpassagnon, popping up holding his right shoulder. It was the same one he injured against Denver earlier in the season, forcing Darnold to miss two games.
"It's fine," Darnold said about the shoulder. "It was not a great decision by me. It was third-and-forever and I tried to run for it. I've got to get down, man. It's not a great decision, but it is feeling fine."
"We have to take it one day at a time, we have a tough one coming up against New England on Monday night," Darnold said.
The numbers -- for Darnold and the Jets' offense -- have left the team in an 0-8 hole with the Monday night game against the Patriots, before a week off. Coming into the daunting challenge against the Chiefs, the Jets were last in the league in five important offensive categories. They have not scored a TD in seven quarters, since rookie La'Michal Perine scored in the first quarter against the Bills. For the season, the Jets have only 4 TD passes through the air.
"I'm just not executing well enough," Darnold said. "For me, I've got to get the ball to the open guy and get it out in a timely manner. Our guys have got to get open against man. I've got to do a good job of seeing zone and reacting to it and finding open areas in the zones. So, yeah, when we get down there we've just got to play better, obviously. I feel like I can do a lot more to be able to put us in better situations and score some touchdowns."
Asked if he and his teammates were aware that the Jets were a heavy underdog, Darnold said: "It is what it is. They beat us by more than 20 today, so obviously we do look at it to a certain point, yeah. We do think that we're a better team than that but we're not playing like it and we have to be better and we have to execute better. Everyone's just got to do their job better and that's really it."
See Best Images from the Week 8 Game in Kansas City