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Jets Eliminated From Playoff Contention After Justin Tucker's 61-Yard Field Goal, Late Interception Gives Ravens Victory Over Lions

  By Brad Carroll  
For the second straight year, the New York Jets' season came to an end on Monday Night Football in Week 15. Last season, Mark Sanchez turned the ball over five times, including one each on the final three drives of the game, in a 14-10 loss to the Titans. This season, the Jets watched from their homes as Ravens kicker Justin Tucker kicked a 61-yard field goal and Baltimore held on to beat the Lions 18-16.

The Jets were eliminated from postseason contention with the Baltimore victory. The Jets and Ravens could both finish the season with 8-8 records, but Baltimore wins the tiebreaker due to its head-to-head win a month ago. This will be the third straight season the Jets will miss the playoffs, the first time that has happened since the team missed the playoffs from 1992-1997.

The Jets needed a small miracle to make the playoffs anyway, so it wasn't likely to happen even with a Baltimore loss, but watching Tucker's kick sail just inside the uprights had to hurt for all Jets fans. It wasn't as bad as watching Sanchez throw and fumble an easily winnable game last year against Tennessee, but the end result was the same in both seasons.

This season really ended after the Jets put together a three-game losing streak after coming out of the bye week with a 5-4 record, fresh off an upset of the Saints that had everyone thinking playoffs. Losses to Buffalo, Baltimore and Miami followed, basically ending any hope for a playoff run. The Jets beat Oakland to improve to 6-7 after that to keep some hope, but losing to Carolina Sunday was the killer.
Now, the final two Jets games will be meaningless in the standings, as they take on the Browns and Dolphins. Maybe they will get the chance to play spoiler in the Dolphins' quest to make the postseason, which would be a small consolation prize.

The bigger issues for the Jets will be answered after the season, as the future of coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Geno Smith, plus a ton of other position players, will be determined. There will be difficult decisions, like whether or not Ryan and Smith will be back, and there will be easier choices, like getting rid of Santonio Holmes. All in all, it's going to be one heck of an offseason.

The biggest decision is whether or not to keep Ryan.

The Jets absolutely should keep Ryan so the organization can actually have some stability for once. There is no reason to start over again, as there is no guarantee a new coach would bring success. For sure, the defense will get worse without Ryan. The offseason plan put together by general manager John Idzik should be more about improving the offense than looking for a new head coach.

That must include a complete overhaul at the skill positions, even if that doesn't include getting a new quarterback. If Smith has some weapons on offense, maybe he can turn into a solid starter. Idzik certainly didn't help in his first offseason, leaving the offense completely void of playmakers. That must change.

But if the Jets lose the next two games, nobody would be able to complain if Ryan was fired. The Jets might need to beat the Browns for Ryan to keep his job. At least that gives next week's game a little meaning.

Three straight years of non-playoff seasons isn't acceptable anymore with the Jets and their fans. This offseason will be the start of ending that streak. It just gets an earlier start than many had hoped.

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