- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Midnight came at 11:39 p.m. ET for the New York Jets.
The Jets (6-8) were mathematically eliminated late Monday night, when the Baltimore Ravens (8-6) defeated the Detroit Lions, 18-16, on Justin Tucker's 61-yard field goal with 38 seconds left. It means that, for the second straight year, the final two games are meaningless for the Jets.
It also means the Jets failed to make the playoffs for the third straight year, their longest drought since the 1992-1997 dry spell.
A Lions win probably would've prolonged the inevitable for the Jets. Instead, it ended in devastating fashion, with a miracle field goal that barely snuck inside the right upright.
Things change quickly in the NFL. Only six weeks ago, the Jets were being hailed as one of the league's darling teams. They were 5-4 at the bye week, coming off a rousing upset of the New Orleans Saints. Mentally, they never left the bye week, dropping three straight before beating the downtrodden Oakland Raiders. It provided temporary hope, but that was crushed with Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers.
"Coming out of the bye, everything was waiting for us," guard Willie Colon said Monday. "It was ours for the taking. For us to not get that done is disheartening."
The Jets close out with the Cleveland Browns (4-10) and Miami Dolphins (8-6), but the big picture will overshadow the games. The key storylines will be Rex Ryan's future, Geno Smith's future, Mark Sanchez's future, Santonio Holmes' final days and John Idzik's plan for the offseason.