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Jets’ bad start sparks troubling penalty trend

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The Jets’ 2020 season began with a penalty.

Because of course it did.

On the first play of Sunday’s season opener against the Bills at Bills Stadium — the opening kickoff with the Jets receiving — backup tight end Daniel Brown was called for illegal use of hands.

That left Sam Darnold starting his first offensive series from his own 9-yard line.

Bad start.

As it turned out, it was only the beginning in an embarrassing, sloppy 27-17 loss to the Bills that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The penalty parade rolled on, with the Jets finishing with nine penalties for 95 yards — many of them damaging because they came at critical moments.

“We’ve got to figure out what we’ve got to fix in that area,’’ coach Adam Gase said. “I’ve got to go back and watch this. It seemed like a lot of things that occurred in this game that were preventable for us, for sure. There’s just so much for us to clean up. It was a rough game. We’ve got to get a lot of things fixed in a short period of time.’’

Jets penalties
Josh Allen looks to the referee for a flag on Quinnen Williams for roughing the passer.Getty Images

In the first quarter, when it appeared the Jets defense had stopped the Bills on a third-and-goal from the 5-yard line when Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen’s pass sailed over John Brown’s head in the back of the end zone, Jets cornerback Brian Poole was called for defensive holding.

Automatic first down Bills. On the next play, Allen scored on a play-action bootleg run that looked too easy for a 7-0 Buffalo lead.

On Buffalo’s next possession, a pass interference penalty by cornerback Pierre Desir on Brown gave the Bills 33 free yards. Five plays later, the Bills went up 14-0.

Early in the second quarter, one play after he helped stuff Allen on an attempted run to leave the Bills in a third-and-4, Jets second-year defensive tackle Quinnen Williams was penalized for being offside, giving Buffalo another free first down.

Seven plays later, the Bills took a 21-0 lead.

Right after that Buffalo score, the Jets took one of the most maddening penalties of the day — a delay of game following a TV timeout. That put the Jets in an immediate hole and, three plays later, Darnold threw an interception.

“We try to limit penalties as much as we can [and] obviously, there were too many today,’’ Darnold said. “The delay of game, I put that on my shoulders. We didn’t break the huddle fast enough and we weren’t ready. That’s on me.’’

Gase on the delay penalty: “We had a really bad miscommunication in the huddle. We screwed up the formation, everything … everything got messed up. I didn’t dig in too deep on who screwed up, because we had to move on to the next series, but we can’t have that happen.’’

Desir, who was signed in the offseason to a free agent contract that could pay him $5.5 million, was benched in the third-quarter, replaced by Nate Hairston, who was promptly called for pass interference on a Buffalo third-and-7.

On the next series, Williams was called for a personal foul for roughing the passer.

The hits just kept coming.

“The PIs [pass interference penalties] in the first half hurt us,’’ safety Marcus Maye said.

“We’ve got to clean up the penalties,’’ receiver Jamison Crowder said. “The penalties hurt us. Those are the things that we can control. We’ve got to eliminate those. We’ve just got to lock in and play sound, fundamental football.’’

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