LAS VEGAS — Zach Wilson was on the verge of quieting his critics. Then, he fueled them.
The Jets quarterback had the team in position to pull out a comeback win over the Raiders but an interception by Raiders linebacker Robert Spillane at the Las Vegas 15-yard line with 1:22 left sealed a 16-12 Jets loss.
The Jets failed to score a touchdown for the second straight game and their touchdown drought is now 11 quarters. Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals to account for all the team’s points Sunday.
The loss drops the Jets to 4-5.
It looked like Wilson would pull this one out after the Jets’ defense forced a fumble with just about four minutes left to play. Ashtyn Davis recovered a Josh Jacobs fumble at the Jets’ 24.
The Jets moved the ball down the field quickly. Wilson hit Allen Lazard for a 17-yard gain on the first play. Completions to Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall and C.J. Uzomah moved it to the Raiders’ 40.
On third-and-4, Wilson found tight end Tyler Conklin for a 4-yard gain and a first down with a little more than three minutes left. Conklin had another 8-yard gain on a pass that put the ball at the 28, setting up a third-and-2. Wilson threw a quick pass to Garrett Wilson, who had been dealing with injuries in the second half, for 6 yards and a first down.
On second-and-8 from the 20, Wilson looked for Lazard, but Spillane jumped in front of the ball and ended the Jets’ hopes. It was Wilson’s first interception in four games.
The Jets did get the ball back with 53 seconds left after their defense stopped the Raiders. They moved the ball to the Raiders 44 on a 27-yard pass to Conklin with 13 seconds left. Wilson took two shots at the end zone from there but both passes fell incomplete and time expired.
The Jets put together a nice opening drive, something they have failed to do all season. Wilson found Garrett Wilson for a third-down conversion and then a 41-yard gain on the next play. The drive stalled, though, after Zach Wilson was called for intentional grounding when he threw the ball into the ground as Maxx Crosby was about to sack him. That put the Jets behind the sticks and they settled for a 47-yard field goal from Zuerlein and a 3-0 lead. Those were the first points the Jets have scored this year on their opening drive.
The Raiders answered with a similar drive. Aidan O’Connell found Davante Adams for a 42-yard gain that moved the ball into Jets territory. A penalty on Adams stunted the drive and Daniel Carlson kicked a 41-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
The Jets kicked field goals on each of their first three drives.
The Jets’ defense then forced a takeaway at the end of the first quarter when safety Jordan Whitehead jumped in front of an O’Connell pass for his fourth interception of the season. The pick gave the Jets the ball at the Las Vegas 26.
They only turned the interception into three points. They had penalties wipe out a would-be 11-yard gain and what would have been a touchdown. Wilson made a nice 20-yard scramble to get the ball to the 3-yard line but they went backwards from there. A Hall touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty on Uzomah, his second of the game. The Jets could not reach the end zone after that, with Zuerlein kicking his third field goal of the night, a 30-yarder, to push the Jets’ lead to 9-3 early in the second quarter.
The Raiders tacked on another field goal as time expired in the first half, this one from 54 yards. The Jets helped them get into scoring position when edge rusher Bryce Huff was called for roughing the passer for hitting O’Connell’s lower legs. That 15-yard penalty put the Raiders into Jets territory.
Penalties continually hurt the Jets. They got the ball to start the third quarter and were moving the ball when running back Michael Carter was called for a chop block that wiped out a third-down conversion. Xavier Gipson was flagged for holding on the next play and the Jets ended up in third-and-21 before punting.
On their next series, center Joe Tippmann was called for a false start that turned a third-and-11 into a third-and-16 and the Jets had to punt again.
The ensuing punt was returned 32 yards by DeAndre Carter and set the Raiders up on the Jets’ 45. Even with that field position, the Raiders could not reach the end zone. They made it to the Jets’ 22 and then Carlson came on to kick his third field goal to tie the game at 9-9 with 2:36 left in the third quarter.
The Raiders struggled as much as the Jets on offense, but running back Jacobs broke a 40-yard run through the middle of the defense at the end of the third quarter. That set up a 7-yard touchdown pass from O’Connell to rookie tight end Michael Mayer to put the Raiders up 16-9 with 14:10 left in the game. Mayer made a leaping catch over Whitehead for the score.
It looked like the Jets might be able to answer. They threw a short pass to Hall on first down and he had a wall of blockers in front of him, enabling him to gain 35 yards to the Raiders’ 40. But they would get no closer than the 27 and Zuerlein would be called upon for a 45-yard field goal, his fourth , to cut the Raiders’ lead to 16-12.