Needing only a win at Buffalo to clinch an AFC wild-card berth Sunday, the New York Jets instead fell to the Bills (and the Jets' former head coach, Rex Ryan). They were then eliminated from playoff contention when the Steelers beat the Browns.
The calamitous turn of events was the latest disappointment in a litany of disappointment in big games for the Jets spanning almost five decades. It might be tough to look at a list of heartbreaking defeats. But we've got one for you.
1969 American Football League (AFL) division playoff
The defending Super Bowl-champion Jets managed two field goals and lost to the Chiefs 13-6 at Shea Stadium. Joe Namath threw three interceptions and finished 14-of-40 for 169 yards.
1981 AFC wild card
The Jets hosted the Bills at Shea Stadium and fell behind 24-0 early before making a late rally. But Bills safety Bill Simpson intercepted a pass from Richard Todd inside the Buffalo 5 in the closing seconds to preserve a 31-27 Bills win.
1982 AFC championship
“The A.J. Duhe Game.” Duhe intercepted three passes, returning one 35 yards for a touchdown, as the Dolphins beat the Jets 14-0 in a quagmire at the Orange Bowl. Todd was intercepted five times in the loss.
1986 AFC division playoff
The Jets led the Browns 20-10 late in the fourth quarter, but Cleveland rallied (thanks in part to a roughing-the-passer call against Mark Gastineau that prolonged a Browns drive) to score twice and force overtime. The Browns won in double overtime 23-20.
Week 17, 1997 season
The Jets were on the road against the Lions seeking to clinch a wild-card spot in their first season under Bill Parcells (after going 1-15 the season before). But a halfback pass by Leon Johnson in the fourth quarter resulted in a controversial interception in the end zone (defender Ron Rice appeared to be out of bounds before securing the catch), and the Lions won 13-10.
1998 AFC championship
The Jets led the Broncos 10-0 at halftime but ended up turning the ball over six times. The Broncos rallied to win 23-10. Denver went on to win the Super Bowl.
Final 3 weeks, 2000 season
The Jets lost not once, not twice, but three times and fell out of a playoff spot. The Lions beat them in Week 16 when John Hall missed a 35-yard field goal in the final seconds (the Jets just missed a game-winning touchdown on the previous play). They then blew a 14-0 lead to the Ravens and lost on a day Vinny Testaverde threw 69 passes (and three interceptions).
2004 AFC division playoff
Doug Brien missed two potential game-winning field goals, and the Steelers eventually beat the Jets in overtime 20-17.
Week 17, 2011 season
The Jets still had a chance at the playoffs with a win, but Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions in a 19-17 road loss to the Dolphins.
Week 17, 2015 season (Sunday)
The Jets played at Buffalo needing a win to clinch a wild-card berth, but Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three fourth-quarter interceptions and Buffalo won 22-17. The Jets were eliminated from playoff contention a short time later when the Steelers beat the Browns.