FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Todd Bowles spent the night in a New Jersey hospital due to a bout with kidney and gall stones, but he made it to Gillette Stadium three hours before kickoff. To the surprise of some in the New York Jets organization, he decided to coach from the sideline in the cold and early rain, not in a comfy booth.
All it did was give him an up-close view to one of the most embarrassing and futile days in recent Jets history.
"It's inexcusable," Bowles said.
Bad team. Bad luck.
A sense of hopelessness has enveloped the Jets, a feeling straight out of the Rich Kotite era.
It sets up a grim scenario for the season finale next week at MetLife Stadium: Bowles, fighting for his job, will meet his predecessor, Rex Ryan, who reportedly could be fired by the Buffalo Bills. It doesn't get any darker than that.
Owner Woody Johnson, who rarely misses a game, was conspicuously absent Saturday. A team spokesman said Johnson had a family obligation. Last week he left the stadium early, fuming. His team has lost the past two games to divisional foes by an aggregate score of 75-16, imperiling Bowles.
Actually, the Jets have been embarrassed in three of the past four games, losing by 31, 21 and 38 points. It's a bad look, a really bad look, and now the spotlight shifts to Johnson. Will he sack Bowles, the way he did Ryan after the 2014 season?
On the day the owner was a no-show, so was his team.
"There's no explanation, we're playing bad," Bowles said. "... We aren't doing anything right right now."
Continuing their Christmas Eve curse, the Jets went to Gillette and suffered their most lopsided defeat since a 49-9 loss to the Bengals in 2013. Afterward, several players said they were "embarrassed." A couple of players questioned the effort.
How bad was this?
Quarterback Bryce Petty, who showed his toughness by rebounding from last week's Cameron Wake-Ndamukong Suh sandwich, was knocked out of the game on a fluke play. Khiry Robinson fumbled on his first carry of the season (typical, right?), and Petty injured his left shoulder (non-throwing) while making the tackle. It ended his day; he probably won't play the finale.
It was a "Same Old Jets" moment -- a devastating blow for Petty, who is trying to convince team brass he's a viable option for next season's starting job. There's no way the Jets can give him that job, not based on what he has shown in four starts. He was dreadful against the Patriots, going 0-for-3 with two sacks and one interception before the injury. He was uncomfortable in the foul weather and totally out of sync.
"Just awful," he said.
Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn't any better. This game, more than any other, amplified the dire situation at quarterback. After three quarters, the Jets had as many turnovers as pass completions -- four apiece. How is that possible in an NFL game? To be fair, the offensive line was a mess (four backups in the starting lineup), and the receivers dropped at least three passes, including would-be touchdowns by Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Devin Smith.
Fitzpatrick and Petty have combined for 24 interceptions. No team is good enough to overcome that kind of incompetence at the game's most important position, but the question is: Will Johnson consider that when deciding Bowles' fate? Will he weigh the inordinate amount of injuries?
To a man, the players said they want Bowles to return. In December, more than any other month on the football calendar, actions speak louder than words.