The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, December 03, 2007
Best Jets Wins
(Originally posted September 21, 2005)
On shabbos, I was asked about my favorite games in Jets history. Following yesterday's rare victory, this would therefore be a good time to re-post the following. One person astutely mentioned "the Jerome Barkum game," which, at number 6 overall, ranks as the second greatest regular season win since I began watching the Jets.
My initial thought was to do a list of the worst Jets losses in their history, but unfortunately, there are many more bad games to consider than good. And anyway, the Jets won on Sunday, so why not be positive?
So here is an off the cuff list of my 15 favorite Jets wins. While Super Bowl 3 is obviously the best Jets victory, this list is limited to games since I started watching the Jets in the late 70's. The list is certainly subjective and omits some memorable games that others may feel warrant inclusion.
1. Jets defeat Raiders 17-14 on Saturday night, January 15, 1983, my 10th birthday. A week after beating the Bengals, the Jets stunned the AFC's top seeded Raiders in LA to earn a trip to the AFC Championship in Miami. With the Jets trailing 14-10, Wesley Walker caught a 45 yard bomb with 4 minutes left in the 4th quarter that set up the go-ahead - and ultimately game-winning - touchdown run. Lance Mehl intercepted two passes in the final 3 minutes of the 4th quarter.
2. Jets defeat Jacksonville on January 10, 1999, in the second round of the playoffs. After a 12-4 season, this was the Jets first home playoff game in 12 years (they've had just one more since), and despite freezing temperatures, it is the most enjoyable game I've ever attended. After taking an early 17-0 lead, the Jets held on to win 34-24. Keyshawn Johnson caught 9 passes, intercepted a Hail Mary pass, and, following a Curtis Martin fumble and a long return by the Jaguars, stripped the ball loose to recover it for the Jets, who then commenced a touchdown drive. The win was the seventh straight for the Jets, who seemed ready to win the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, a week later they would play a poor second half against Denver in the AFC Championship.
3. Jets defeat Bengals 44-17 on January 9, 1983. A week before the victory over the Raiders, the Jets were led by more than 200 yards rushing by Freeman McNeil, who also threw a touchdown pass. The New York Sack Exchange was in full force, refusing to let Cincinnati get anything going on offense.
4. Jets defeat Packers 42-17 on December 29, 2002 to win the AFC East title. After a terrible 2-5 start, Chad Pennington led the Jets resurgence. Coming into the final week of the season, they needed a win over an 11-4 Packers team that would gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory. The Jets also needed either Miami or Cleveland to lose to have a chance to make the playoffs. In the 1:00 games, Cleveland defeated Atlanta, and Miami was leading New England by 10 points. As the Jets game was starting, New England scored a late 4th quarter touchdown to cut the deficit to 3. Then, early in the 1st quarter of the Jets game, New England tied it, and the Giants Stadium crowd went into a frenzy. Later, when the Patriots won in overtime on another field goal, a mass celebration broke out among the fans, even though the Jets game remained tied late in the 1st quarter. Energized by a chance to win the division, the Jets crushed Green Bay. Pennington threw four touchdown passes.
5. Jets defeat Colts 41-0, January 4, 2003. In the first round of the playoffs, Chad Pennington threw for 3 touchdown passes, Lamont Jordan ran for two, and Payton Manning was intercepted twice and managed a paltry 137 yards passing, as the Colts offense couldn't get anything going. Even more important than the win itself was the feeling that with Chad Pennington at quarterback, the Jets would win a Super Bowl, if not in the '02 season than within a year or two. Having throw ten touchdown passes in three games, Pennington had never looked better; he has not been nearly as good since.
6. Jets defeat Dolphins 16-15 at Shea Stadium on November 22, 1981. For years, this game was often featured on Alcoa's "Fantastic Finishes" during the 4th quarter two minute warning. After an 0-3 start, the Jets entered with a 6-4-1 record and a chance to move into a first place tie with the Dolphins - with the Jets holding the tiebreaker. With the Jets down 15-9 late in the 4th quarter, Richard Todd drove the Jets down the field. With 16 seconds left, Todd threw the winning touchdown pass to Jerome Barkum, threading the needle between two Dolphins. Shea went into a frenzy not seen since the '73 Mets, with Mark Gastineau dancing euphorically on the sidelines.
7. Jets defeat Dolphins 51-45 on September 21, 1986. One of the most exciting games in Jets history. Dan Marino threw 6 touchdown passes, but he was outdueled by Ken O'Brien in O'Brien's finest performance as a Jet. Wesley Walker also had a career day, with four TD receptions, the third on the final play of the 4th quarter. With the Jets down 45-38, they drove down the field in a last minute drive with no timeouts. With five seconds left and the ball on the Miami 21, Walker caught an O'Brien pass at the 1 and fell into the end zone. The Jets then won the coin toss, and picked up right where they left off, with O'Brien marching them downfield. With the ball on the Miami 43, O'Brien threw a bomb to Wesley Walker for the win. The victory was the start of a nine-game winning streak for the Jets.
8. Jets defeat Packers 28-3 on December 20, 1981. After an 0-3 start to the '81 season, the Jets came alive, going 9-2-1 over their next 12 games. Entering the final week of the season, they needed a victory over Green Bay to make the playoffs for the first time in twelve year. The Packers also could make the playoffs with a win, and entered having won six of seven. In one of the greatest Jets victories at Shea Stadium, the Jets were led by a dominant performance by Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, and the rest of the Sack Exchange, which recorded an amazing 9 sacks that day. Wesley Walker and Lam Jones both catch long touchdown passes.
9. Jets defeat Dolphins 21-16 on December 13, 1998. Both teams entered this game with a 9-4 record. In Miami's only home loss of the season, Wayne Chrebet led the Jets offense with a touchdown reception and more than 100 years receiving. The Jets defense sacked Dan Marino five times, and late in the 4th quarter, Chad Cascadden returned a Marino fumble for a touchdown to seal the victory. The following week, the Jets clinched the AFC East title with a victory over the Bills.
10. Jets defeat Patriots 30-17 on December 22, 2002. Needing a road victory over the defending Super Bowl champs to keep their then slim playoff hopes alive, Chad Pennington led the way with 285 yards passing and three touchdowns, without an interception. In a tense 4th quarter, Pennington orchestrated a 75 yard drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to Wayne Chrebet.
11. Jets defeat Dolphins 40-37 on October 23, 2000 in one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. I'm embarrassed to admit that I left this Monday Night Football game early - the only time I have left a game early. The Dolphins scored with 12 seconds to go in the 3rd quarter to take a 30-7 lead. It was already quite late, and I had a choice of taking a ride home or taking the Port Authority bus and a train home. I foolishly chose the ride. As we were exiting Giants Stadium, Vinny Testaverde hit Laveranues Coles for a long TD pass. A few minutes later, in the car heading out the stadium parking lot to Route 3 and the Lincoln Tunnel, we turned the radio on to hear that the Jets scored again, making it 30-20. That's when I learned my lesson never to leave a game early again. We indeed exited the stadium, but there was an accident on Route 3 (the road to the Lincoln Tunnel) and we (and thousands of others) could not take the ramp to the highway. So stuck in traffic just outside the parking lot, with the stadium lights glaring, we listened to Wayne Chrebet's tying touchdown catch with 4 minutes left, to Miami's long kickoff return and devastating go-ahead TD on the first play on the ensuing drive, and then to the Jets forcing overtime when Testaverde converted on 4th down to set up first and goal, and then hooked up with Jumbo Elliott of all people for a touchdown. When overtime started the road reopened. With the Dolphins driving in Jets territory, Marcus Coleman intercepted a Jay Fielder pass, but fumbled the ball away. Then Coleman intercepted another pass, and after a long pass to Chrebet, John Hall kicked a 40 yard field goal to win it. The win put the Jets in first place with a 6-1 record. They subsequently collapsed, finishing 9-7 and missing the playoffs.
12. Jets defeat Dolphins 23-20 on December 22, 1991. Despite entering the game with a 7-8 record, the Jets had a chance to make the playoffs with a road win over Miami. With the Jets clinging to a 17-13 lead, Dan Marino leads the Dolphins to what appears to be the game winning TD pass on 4th and goal with just 44 seconds left. On the radio, Jets announcer Marty Glickman declares the game and the season over. But the Jets quickly drive downfield, and with no time left in regulation, Raul Allegre kicks a 44 yard field goal to force overtime. In overtime running back Johnny Hector was unstoppable and the Jets won on another Allegre field goal.
13. Jets defeat Colts 29-28 on December 23, 2001. Vinny Testaverde outduels Payton Manning in this Sunday night classic. The Jets moved the ball well all game, but kept sputtering in the red zone, settling for five John Hall field goals. With less than three minutes to go and no timeouts, the Jets started deep in their own territory. Vinny completed two passes to Wayne Chrebet and another to Curtis Martin, and found Anthony Becht for the winning TD with less than a minute left.
14. Jets defeat Giants 26-7 on November 1, 1981. This was a home game for the Giants, making the dominating win especially enjoyable. The Sack Exchange was born that day, sacking Phil Simms nine times - with Gastineau and Joe Klecko recording three each. Richard Todd and Wesley Walker had a huge game on offense.
15. Jets defeat Bucs 21-17 on September 24, 2000. Embittered after being traded by the Jets months earlier, Keyshawn Johnson talks trash all week, dissing the Jets generally and Wayne Chrebet particularly. Both teams come into the game with 3-0 records. Keyshawn does nothing in the game, but neither did the Jets offense, and Tampa led 17-6 late in the 4th quarter. With less than two minutes left, Vinny Testaverde led a touchdown drive, and the Jets converted the two point conversion, cutting the deficit to 17-14. Instead of an onside kick, the Jets kick the ball deep. On 2nd down, the Bucs fumbled the ball, and the Jets looked poised to send the game into overtime with a tying field goal. Instead, Chrebet - who also was having a quiet game - caught a touchdown pass from none other than running back Curtis Martin, giving the Jets the win and a 4-0 start.
Among other noteworthy games are the Jets' playoff victories against Kansas City in 1986 and the Chargers last season, as well as the season finales against the Browns in 1985 and the Raiders in 2001, both of which the Jets won to clinch a playoff berth.
Also of note is my earliest memory of a Jets win - when I was in first grade and not yet six years old: An awesome 31-28 road victory over the Broncos on November 5, 1978 that definitely ranks among the team's best. The Jets were down 28-7 before scoring the final 24 points. I'm not certain, but believe that prior to the 2000 Miami game, this was the biggest Jets comeback in franchise history. Unfortunately, the Jets lost four of their last six games to finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs.