Whatever flicker of hope the Jets still harbor in this season without reason became a flame that Jamal Adams lit in the pregame locker room on the day when the Jets resembled a playoff team for the first time under Adam Gase.
“When we came onto the field, we felt disrespected,” Adams said after Jets 34, Raiders 3. “We got booed in our own home stadium by Oakland fans. … We come back into this locker room, we went out and. … It was a helluva talk. It was something that needed to be said. We felt disrespected, went out there and … put up or shut up.”
It was put up.
“I came in here and sparked it off,” Adams said.
And then Sam Darnold fanned the flame into a raging fire.
Darnold continued his belated second-year leap that has the Jets straining to resist the temptation to dream The Improbable If Not Impossible Dream.
Playoffs? Playoffs? Are you kidding me?
“It’s in the back of my head,” Darnold said, “but I think where we’re at right now, we just gotta keep taking it one week at a time, and if we do that, I think we’ll be all right.”
Darnold (20 of 29, 315 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 rushing TD) authored a 127.8 QB rating. He has thrown seven touchdowns with one interception during this three-game win streak. He completed passes to nine different receivers.
Gase called a masterful game — including a 30-yard flea-flicker to Robby Anderson — the offensive line has stabilized, Gregg Williams dominated Jon Gruden, suffocating RB Josh Jacobs, stuffing Alec Ingold on fourth-and-1 at the Gruden 40, chasing Derek Carr for Mike Glennon late in the third quarter.
By then, Raiders fans watching at home might have been praying for Heidi to interrupt the telecast of the rest of the game, and the ones who booed the Jets in pregame had fallen silent.
It is playing with fire when you disrespect Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold, the leaders of the Jets, in their home stadium.
Darnold opened the floodgates to the rout when the second half began with a perfect 69-yard slant to Braxton Berrios to the Oakland 1. Darnold, out of the shotgun, rolled right and floated a 1-yard TD pass left to tight end Ryan Griffin. “It was awesome … great play design,” Darnold said.
Jets 20. Raiders 3.
His single best throw had come in the second quarter, third-and-3 at the Oakland 43, when he threaded the needle over the arms of Daryl Worley for a 31-yard completion to Anderson. Darnold had an open field in front of him but chose not to run.
“My eyes were downfield, felt like there was a big play to be made,” Darnold said. “Looking at the film, I think the smart decision would have been to run the football. But I’m never gonna apologize for going out there and playing football.”
He was poised and in command and accurate all day, and a play that showed his decision-making growth came three plays later when he threw the ball away under duress on third-and-15, and Sam Ficken booted the 35-yard FG.
Darnold had capped a 12-play, 96-yard drive with a 4-yard keeper early in the second quarter that made it Jets 10, Raiders 3.
“I had someone in my way at the goal line, and I just do what I could to get in the end zone,” Darnold said. “It was fun out there just to be able to run one in like that, ’cause it doesn’t happen very often.”
Darnold, wise beyond his years, made it a point to applaud his resurgent, resilient offensive line.
“Those guys are special over there,” he said.
So 1-7 has become 4-7 and with the Bengals and Dolphins next, it should be 6-7 before Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will be waiting in Baltimore on a Thursday night, an obstacle that most everyone who doesn’t believe in miracles will point to as the end of Darnold’s fairy tale.
“If we can play like that every game,” linebacker Tarell Basham told The Post, “anything can happen around here. We can beat anybody if we play like that.”
A shame the complementary football and complimentary football has arrived so late, most likely too late, especially given the Jets’ 1-6 conference record.
“Everybody’s playing like pros right now,” linebacker Brandon Copeland said.
Disrespect them at your own peril.
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