Jets QB Josh McCown may have had his best game statistically with the Green & White, but it was his fourth-quarter fumble that will be remembered in the team's 35-27 loss to the Panthers.
The Jets didn't look like they were going up against the second-best defense in the NFL as they were going shot-for-shot with the Panthers all game long. They eventually took their first lead of the game, 20-18, early in the fourth quarter, and had the field position to open it up as well. But McCown made a crucial error by trying to throw the ball as he was being sacked, and instead, fumbled near midfield.
Panthers LB Luke Kuechly would scoop it up and take it to the house to regain the lead, and the Jets wouldn't see a lead the rest of the afternoon.
"We had several possessions behind the sticks and I wasn't trying to take another third-and-long ," McCown told Jets.com's Ethan Greenberg about the fumble. "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."
That one mistake masked McCown's best offensive performance on the year. He eclisped 300 yards for the first time this season, going 19-of-36 for 307 yards with three touchdowns and a 109.4 quarterback rating. McCown aimed mostly at receivers Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, who both had over 100 yards 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 you know that you coudl 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 the fumble being the Jets' only turnover in the game, there was an early mistake for the offense in the red zone. McCown saw TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins slip through the defense, and was wide open in the back of the end zone. But an easy catch-and-score turned into a rare drop from the veteran, and the Jets had to settle with just three points.
Even worse was when the Jets had first-and-goal on the 1-yard line, and couldn't break the plane. Seferian-Jenkins saw a fade reach his hands on second-and-goal, and what looked like a touchdown was later overturned. It was a bad break for the Jets who couldn't find the end zone when they needed it the most.
That is why poor execution makes this loss hurt a little more.
"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."
Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter Josh McCown had another of those games where his statline looked really good -- over 300 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions -- but he had some costly mistakes that don't show up in the boxscore. His fumble in the fourth quarter provided the Panthers with a lead they never relinquished and the Jets left some points on the field on two trips to the red zone where they had to settle for field goals. >> Read more on McCown and the rest of the Jets' offense in Bent's Game Analysis