The Zionist Conspiracy
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Worst Jets Losses: Four Through One
Okay, it's about time to move onto other things, so without further ado, here are the four worst losses in the history of the New York Jets.
4. Jets lose to Pittsburgh Steelers 20-17 on January 15, 2005.
The Jets were heavy underdogs in this second round playoff game against the 15-1 Steelers. Playing with an injured shoulder that would soon be revealed to be a torn rotator cuff, QB Chad Pennington was mostly ineffective.
However, the Jets scored touchdowns on special teams and defense. First, Santana Moss returned a punt for a touchdown, tying the score at 10-10 late in the 2nd quarter. Early in the 4th quarter, Reggie Tongue intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass and returned it 86 yards for a touchdown.
After a Jerome Bettis fumble, the Jets had a chance to put the game away. But they meekly went three and out, running twice and throwing a short pass.
The Steelers drove down the field and scored a touchdown to tie the game.
But the Jets came back with a nice drive that took up the latter portion of the 4th quarter, setting up a 47 yard kick by Doug Brien just before the two minute warning. The kick bounced off the crossbar.
On the very next play, Roethlisberger was intercepted again and the Jets had the ball at Pittsburgh's 37. After passing for a first down at the Steelers' 24, they went into super-conservative mode, running right up the middle on first and second downs for just one yard, and then actually having Pennington kneel on third down for a two yard loss. Head coach Herm Edwards was much more concerned with running out the game clock than with moving the ball. Despite the cold weather and even though the exact same strategy failed for the Chargers and saved the Jets in the Jets' first round playoff win the previous week, Herm was content with trying a 43 yard field goal. As regulation time expired, Brien's kick went way wide to the left.
In overtime, the Jets had the ball near midfield and it briefly looked as though Brien would get a third chance. But an Anthony Becht holding penalty caused the drive to stall. Playing an overtime road game for the third straight week thanks to the idiocy of Eric Barton, the exhausted Jets defense could no longer stop the Steelers, and Pittsburgh drove downfield for the winning field goal.
After the game, Edwards praised his team for "battling" and was oblivious as to why anyone would question the 4th quarter playcalling.
3. Jets lose to Cleveland Browns 23-20 on January 3, 1987, in probably the most painful loss in team history.
After a 10-1 start, the 1986 Jets not only lost their lost five games, they were completely blown out in each of them, giving up 45 or more points in three of the five losses. They backed into the playoffs a mere shell of the exciting team that had won nine straight games earlier in the year.
But when the playoffs started, as if turning on a light switch, the Jets got right back on track. They easily defeated Kansas City in the wildcard game. In the second round against the Cleveland Browns, the Jets continued their resurgence, holding Browns QB Bernie Kosar in check. When Freeman McNeil ran for a 25 yard touchdown to give the Jets a 20-10 lead with just 4 minutes left and the Browns down to one timeout, the Jets looked sure to be headed to the AFC Championship.
The game was on shabbos, and for better or worse, I was listening to it in a park in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. I'll never forget Jets radio announcer Charley Steiner saying, "The Jets are going to Denver! The Jets are going to the AFC Championship!"
On the ensuing Browns possession, the Browns were called for a holding penalty on first down. Then, the Jets sacked Kosar, and backed the Browns up to their own 18 yard line. On the next play, Kosar's pass was incomplete. But Mark Gastineau was called for a late hit, giving the Browns 15 yards and an automatic first down. The Browns marched down the field for a touchdown with less than two minutes left.
Still, the Jets got the ball back. One first down would run out the clock and win the game. The Jets ran on first and second downs for short gains. The Browns used their last timeout after first down. After second down, the 30 second clock wound down.
On third down, coach Joe Walton called for a quarterback draw, despite the immobility of QB Ken O'Brien. O'Brien was sacked, stopping the clock for about 15 seconds. The Browns got the ball back with a minute left instead of 45 seconds left.
The Jets were called for a questionable pass interference penalty. Then Kosar hit Webster Slaugter for a long pass, setting up the tying field goal with 7 seconds left in the 4th quarter.
In overtime, the Jets offense never sustained a drive. Steiner questioned Walton's playcalling, saying that the Jets were "playing not to lose." The defense got a break when Cleveland missed a short field goal, but two minutes into the second overtime, the Browns kicked a 27 yard field goal to complete the Jets collapse.
The Jets would not play another playoff game in the Joe Walton era, which lasted three more seasons. They would not make it back to the second round of the playoffs for 12 years.
2. Jets lose to Miami Dolphins 14-0 on January 23, 1983.
After defeating both the Bengals and the Raiders on the road in the first two rounds of the 1982 playoffs, the Jets were just a win away from a trip to the Super Bowl.
There was heavy rain in Miami in the days preceding this AFC Championship game. The Jets, with Freeman McNeil, had the superior running game, but the Dolphins failed to cover the field letting it turn to mud.
As a result, neither offense was able to get much going. McNeil had huge games against both Cincinnati and Oakland, but ran for his lowest yardage of the season on the soggy and muddy field.
The lack of a running game took Jets star wide receiver Wesley Walker out of the game too. Walker was double-teamed, and caught just one pass, late in the 4th quarter.
The game was scoreless at halftime. In the 3rd quarter, A.J. Duhe intercepted a Richard Todd pass, setting up a Dolphins touchdown. In the 4th quarter, Duhe intercepted a screen pass intended for Bruce Harper and returned the interception for a touchdown. He would set an NFL playoff record with three interceptions on the day.
After the game, a furious Walt Michaels ripped into the Dolphins for the poor field conditions. On the airplane back to New York, Michaels lost his temper and continued to rail about the mud. Jets president Jim Kensil told Michaels to shut up and let it go, and the two had a verbal altercation.
In the ensuing weeks, offensive coordinator Joe Walton was interviewed for several head coaching positions. Walton did a good job of self promotion, convincing the Jets front office that he rather than Michaels was responsible for the improvement on offense in 1981 and 1982.
After the Super Bowl, Michaels was fired by Kensil and replaced by Walton. A year later, Michaels was hired by Donald Trump to be head coach of the USFL's New Jersey Generals. After the USFL folded in 1985, Michaels never coached football again.
Richard Todd and the Jets had a disappointing season under Walton in 1983. Todd was traded to the Saints after the '83 season.
The Jets would not return to the AFC Championship for 16 years. When they did, they suffered the worst loss in their history.
1. Jets lose to Denver Broncos 23-10 on January 17, 1999. Entering this game, the Jets had won 11 out of 12 games, including a second round playoff victory at home over Jacksonville. Even so, they were 6 point underdogs to the 14-2 Broncos, who were the defending Super Bowl champions and who are always very tough at Mile High Stadium, where they had won 18 straight.
Shortly after this game started, the Falcons stunned the Vikings in the NFC Championship. While the 15-1 Vikings were dominant in '98, the Falcons were a team that both the Jets and Broncos would be favored to beat.
The Jets dominated the first half, with Vinny Testaverde completing his first 13 passes and their defense shutting down Denver's potent offense. But a Keith Byars fumble deep in Denver territory, another fumble by Curtis Martin at the Denver 44, and a missed field goal by John Hall prevented the Jets from taking control of the game. The Jets finally got on the board with a field goal as the first half expired.
Midway through the 3rd quarter, the Jets blocked a Broncos punt and recovered the ball at the 1 yard line. Curtis Martin ran it in for a 10-0 Jets lead.
With Bill Belichick's defense stymieing John Elway, Shannon Sharpe and Terrell Davis, the Jets looked set for a trip to Miami, the place where they played and won in their other Super Bowl appearance 30 years earlier.
But the Broncos scored a touchdown on their next drive. It would be important for the Jets to gain the momentum back on offense. But on the ensuing kickoff, the Jets committed their third turnover of the day, fumbling the ball.
After that, the Jets could not stop Davis. He scored on a long TD run late in the 3rd quarter.
Vinny Testaverde tried to get the Jets back into the game in the 4th quarter, but he was intercepted twice, once deep in Denver territory. On the day, the Jets committed six turnovers.
In the end, this game was not the most disappointing in team history. After a great season led by Testaverde, the Jets fell short against a team that would win back-to-back Super Bowls and that was almost impossible to beat at home.
But looking back, this game was the closest the Jets have ever gotten to a second Super Bowl. They were dominating the game on both sides of the ball, but couldn't put up points on offense. Had they won, they would have faced a very beatable Falcons team in the Super Bowl. Headed by Parcells, Belichick and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, it's reasonable to believe that the Jets would more likely than not have won the Super Bowl.
If they had, all the other disappointments in team history would be a lot less painful. The injuries to Chad Pennington, the bizarre decisions by Herm Edwards, watching Belichick and Weis win three Super Bowls in New England, Doug Brien's missed kicks - sure they'd still be frustrating, but significantly less so. Maybe Belichick would have even stayed.
There was a lot of optimism after this loss. Elway retired after the Super Bowl, and some saw the Jets as the team to beat in the AFC in 1999. Vinny Testaverde's season-ending injury ended those hopes. After '99, Parcells, Belichick and Weis were all gone. The Jets have not made it back to the AFC Championship.