I've been thinking about the Jets' season, and how close they are to having a much better record than the 5-6 at which they currently sit (note that I just say a better record as opposed to being better...because, really, their current record is a good indication of how good they are).
A few losses that came down to the final possession. A couple of mistakes here and there that could have affected those outcomes.
And I think about one play in particular that might have changed everything this year.
You might have thought the most negative impact on the Jets by Kris Jenkins this season was when he was lost for the year after an injury in Week 6 against the Bills.
I'm here to tell you differently.
It came in Week 4, when the 3-0 Jets played the 3-0 Saints.
The Jets battled back to get within 17-10, and that was the score in the fourth quarter, 9:06 to go in the game.
The Jets' defense, playing out of their minds at this point in the season, forced a fourth and one from their own 43.
The Saints line up to go for it...or just to try to force the Jets offsides.
And Kris Jenkins jumps offsides.
Now, the Saints are an excellent team - maybe the best in football. So who am I to say that they don't get that first down anyway? But maybe they were setting up the pooch punt. Maybe they would have fumbled the snap. Maybe the Jets would have stopped them.
And then who knows what could have happened.
Maybe the Jets, with just half a field to go, score the game-tying touchdown, instead of giving up a touchdown later that drive to go down by two scores.
Maybe they somehow pull out a win...or force OT against the Saints...and maybe that momentum carries them into wins in the successive weeks over Miami and Buffalo (games the Jets lost but should have won).
Maybe the defense, which never again played quite as well as it did those first few games, carries more intensity into those games...particularly their worst game of the year the following week against the Wildcat.
It makes me wonder, because the error by Jenkins was an unforced error - and without it, things could really have been different for the Jets.
We knew it was coming all year - the Jets finish the season with a tough stretch. They have winnable games against Buffalo and Tampa Bay, then it's Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati to finish the season.
A couple of wins earlier in the season might have made those games launching pads to the post-season.
As it is, they'll probably cap off a .500 season.
A .500 season that may very well have come down to one huge penalty.