I've decided to start a new series here at GGN. Keeping with the optimism and good feelings of the offseason, I'm going to recount my ten most heartbreaking Jets losses in order. I've been following this team for twenty-one years now so I know plenty of pain. A lot of worthy games had to be left off the list. For those of you who go back to the 1970's and 1980's, I have no clue how you've done it. This list is obviously only based on opinion so perhaps yours is different. Feel free to share your thoughts in a FanPost and to relive the misery in the comments.
Number ten on our list came in Week 16 of the 2011 season. The Jets and Giants met on Christmas Eve. This was more than a battle for New York bragging rights. Both teams would be in the driver's seat for a Playoff spot with a win. A loss would likely be a mortal wound for both team's Playoff chances. A lot of bad blood had developed between the two teams in the three years since Rex Ryan took over as Jets head coach. There had been ejections in the preseason game between the squads.
Both clubs were inconsistent. The Jets were coming off a blowout loss to the Eagles. The Giants had been beaten soundly at home by a bad Redskins team the week before.
The Jets went right down the field on their first drive, ending in a 5 yard touchdown pass from Mark Sanchez to Josh Baker. The Jets led 7-3 in the second quarter when Eli Manning completed a third down pass to Victor Cruz with the Giants on their own 1. A stop there would have given the Jets great field position and a chance to go up two scores. Instead Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson both missed chances to bring Cruz down. Eric Smith couldn't catch him, and Cruz went 99 yards to give the Giants the lead for good.
It was a brutal day offensively on both sides. Eli Manning only completed 9 of 27 passes against the Jets' defense. Brian Schottenheimer had Mark Sanchez drop back over 60 times despite his run game performing well. As was frequently the case with Schottenheimer, he knew the Giants had a bad pass defense so he was determined to exploit it even though he should have known by then he didn't have the quarterback to do it.
This one is made more painful by the fact it launched a pretty average Giants team on a roll that would end in a Super Bowl title. The Jets would have their season end the next week in Miami in as ugly of a fashion as is imaginable.
This game embodied a very disappointed Jets team. They were coming off two consecutive AFC Championship Games. The talent level on the team had dropped, but not egregiously so. At the very least, there was no excuse for this team to miss the Playoffs. The Jets had a favorable schedule that year. They were sitting at 8-5 with three winnable games in front of them. They also had bad losses to the Raiders and Broncos. Bad times all around.