Since everybody and their monkey's uncle seems to be coming up with lists and such this offseason, I decided to come up with our own diversion. Some of you may remember my failed attempt at the "Return Flight" series about a year or so ago, in which I totally jinxed myself in assuming that things would continue to be slow at work, and that I would have ample time to view all the games since 2006 and write about them. Things actually picked up business-wise, and I actually had to like, do work and stuff.
This time around, we will just be returning to some of the best moments against each of the other 31 franchises. That is, unless or until my attention drifts off to something else. This should serve as an open discussion, as the moments I list are simply from my own awareness and preference.
We will go through the teams in random. However, for a team with only one Lombardi trophy, picking where to start is fairly easy. It would have to be the Baltimore Colts franchise, who eventually moved to Indianapolis.
1. Super Bowl III. The best moment, easily, against this franchise. We all know it. We're all pretty sick of hearing how long it's been since our last and only championship. The Jets came in as underdogs, Joe Namath guaranteed victory and Gang Green legitimized the NFL-AFL merger.
2. 2010-11 Wild Card. We lost the AFCCG to them the previous year, so this was a nice little revenge. Rex Ryan made it "personal" against Peyton Manning, whom he viewed as the best quarterback in football. He also implored Adam Vinatieri to "Miss one for once in your @&*!&! life, you @&*!&!". In the end, Mark Sanchez threw a perfect sideline pass to Braylon Edwards, and Nick Folk kicked the game winning field goal. Back flips and Jet planes all over the field.
3. 2002-03 Wild Card. After starting the season 1-4, then 2-5, Herman Edwards' Jets played to win the game. I thought all hope was lost after the loss in Chicago late in the season (in which Wayne Chrebet had to be taken out of the game with a concussion, IIRC). However, Gang Green set themselves up for success by winning in New England. What made the playoff berth even sweeter that year was that in came with the help of the Patriots beating the Dolphins. Vinatieri's game-winning kick was broadcast at the Meadowlands, and the stadium erupted. The team was energized and went on to beat the Packers 42-17, winning the division.
This was the first year of realignment, and the Jets hosted the wild card Colts, a former division rival. Its head coach, Tony Dungy, was Herm's mentor, so the victory must have been sweet for him. Personally for me, it was noteworthy to see two teams with black head coaches in the playoffs.
It was not only the win that felt great, but the potential for greatness. The Jets were hot. Chad Pennington was being compared to Joe Montana. Just like the Patriots, they had a backup QB step up and lead them to victory. I really thought they would win it all that year.
As for bad moments against the Colts, it would have to be that aforementioned AFCCG loss. Then there's the 2006 game in which we controlled the time of possession, just to watch Peyton take the lead late. And then Justin Miller returns the ensuing kick for a touchdown, just to watch Peyton take the lead yet again. And then much heap was praised on Eric Mangini for the thousand laterals as time ran out.
So what do you think, Gangsters? Are there any other moments you'd like to share? I only started following the Jets in the early 90s, so I'm sure there are many I'm not aware of.