December is the worst month of the season for a losing football team. Making the playoffs is no longer a reality, the weather makes your teeth chatter, and a lame-duck head coach is trying to motivate the team. The final four weeks can seem like a grind when you’re 3-9 and going nowhere.
But if the Jets need something to get their blood boiling for Sunday’s game at Buffalo, then all they need to remember is the 41-10 pounding the Bills laid on them four weeks ago at MetLife Stadium.
It was the fourth straight loss in what is now a six-game losing streak, but it was the one that broke the Jets. The Bills started Matt Barkley at quarterback — though he joined the team less than two weeks earlier and hadn’t appeared in a regular-season game in two years, Barkley completed the first pass he threw: a 47-yarder to Robert Foster. On the next play, LeSean McCoy breezed through the Jets’ defense to score on a 28-yard run.
Before long the Bills, just 2-7 at the time, had a 31-0 lead that was never threatened. Barkley finished 15-for-25 for 232 yards and two touchdowns in the only game he has played this season.
Asked by The Post if that loss is a motivating factor this week, Jets safety Jamal Adams didn’t mince words.
“I’m going to cut to the chase,” he said. “It’s personal. They came in and they whupped us. They don’t like us and we don’t like them, so it’s going to be a tough battle.”
The words were strong, but maybe they need to be at this point of the season, when there’s really nothing to play for other than pride and payback.
Adams suggested the Bills and Jets are like the Hatfields and McCoys.
“It’s a divisional opponent,” he said. “We just go at it each time we see [each] other. They came in and put up like 30 or 40 points on us. As a defense, we have to come out there and do the right thing so that doesn’t happen again.”
The Jets should be embarrassed about what happened on Nov. 11. It was one of the ugliest defeats in franchise history. Getting slaughtered in the Meadowlands by a 2-7 team with a quarterback off the couch prompted the first strong calls for Todd Bowles to be fired, a sentiment that has gained momentum.
Bowles and the Jets needed to win that game to quiet the talk and keep any playoff hopes alive. But they didn’t respond. McCoy rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns as the Bills totaled 451 net yards to the Jets’ 199. Josh McCown made his first start of the season for the injured Sam Darnold and was an ineffective 17-of 34 for 135 yards, no scores and two interceptions.
“We flat-out didn’t come to play, and they came to play,” Adams said. “They punched us in the mouth.”
It hasn’t gotten any better for the Jets, as Darnold has remained out nursing his sprained foot. Following a bye week, the Jets subsequently lost to the Patriots (27-13) and last week blew a 16-0 lead in a 26-22 loss at Tennessee.
Darnold took full reps during Wednesday’s practice and could return Sunday, setting up his first matchup with Bills rookie QB Josh Allen. It will also be the first showdown between Allen and Adams, the Jets’ first-round pick in 2017.
“He can make all the throws,” Adams said. “He has a cannon.”
Adams is the Jets’ best candidate for the Pro Bowl this year, shining against the run and consistently delivering pressure when asked to rush the quarterback. He has embraced being a team leader, trying to change a losing culture into thinking like a winner. It includes wanting payback.
“If I lose period, it’s personal,” Adams said. “It’s not like I want to fight them. But it’s personal.”
At least, there’s something to play for.
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