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In the Jets’ Hands, a Late Lead Yields a Third Straight Loss

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The Jets (3-5) had their chances.

After taking a 7-0 lead on McCown’s 20-yard pass to Eric Tomlinson on their opening series, they recovered a botched snap by Matt Ryan at the Falcons’ 34. Three plays netted 6 yards, and a 46-yard field goal attempt by Chandler Catanzaro was wide right. That was one of two misses by Catanzaro, and after each, Ryan led Atlanta to a touchdown, the second coming on a go-ahead 8-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu with 12 minutes 22 seconds to play.

The Falcons (4-3) did not trail again, outscoring the Jets by 12-3 in the second half.

“There’s no excuse,” Catanzaro said. “My teammates are counting on me to put it through the two yellow pipes, and I didn’t do that today.”

Not only did Catanzaro cost his team 6 points, returner Jeremy Kerley muffed a punt at the Jets’ 15 with 6:42 to play. That allowed Atlanta to extend its lead to the final 5-point margin.

“It sailed a little bit,” said the usually sure-handed Kerley. “It was wet, raining, and the ball was more slippery than I thought it was.”

Coach Todd Bowles said the Jets “played hard, for the most part.”

“It’s disappointing not to win,” Bowles said. “It’s disappointing we didn’t close it out. Too many mistakes in the fourth quarter. Can’t happen. Can’t put the ball on the ground. Can’t have timely mistakes.

“Everybody has to play their brand of ball. Hard enough, not good enough.”

What happened Sunday is nothing new. The Jets blew an early 14-0 lead against New England here two weeks ago, then squandered a 28-14 fourth-quarter lead in a 31-28 loss to the Dolphins in Miami.

Linebacker Demario Davis said the circumstances have been different in each game.

“I don’t think you can look at it and say it’s that simple, that it is the same thing over and over and over,” he said. “We just have to find a way to make those big plays, whether it’s defense, whether it’s offense, whether it’s special teams, or whatever the case. We have to find a way to make those plays down the stretch.”

Running back Matt Forte went in another direction, saying that the Jets’ offensive coordinator, John Morton, got away from the game plan by not sticking with the running game more with the rain falling so hard.

“I’m surprised by that,” Forte said after the Jets rushed 22 times for 43 yards. “We knew the weather was going to be like this, and then it continued to rain the entire game.” He went on: “It should have been one person getting 20 carries, or something like that.”

However, that is part of learning for the Jets. They were 5-11 last season and were generally thought to be one of the league’s worst teams coming into the season.

“It’s been tough,” said receiver Robby Anderson, who had six catches for a career-best 104 yards and a touchdown. “We’ve been right there. We’re just not finishing it out, so it’s been tough, honestly. It’s just growing pains, so we’re going to get over this hump.”

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