In anticipation of the Jets-Chargers tilt coming up in Week 3, this is as good of a time as any to look back at recent contests between the clubs. New York and San Diego have played some significant and exciting games this decade.
November 6, 2005: Chargers 31 Jets 26
Brooks Bollinger came off the bench to replace an injured Vinny Testaverde and threw 2 touchdown passes, almost rallying the Jets from a 28-13 deficit. A John Abraham strip sack gave New York the ball in San Diego territory in the final minutes of the contest, and the Jets drove to the 3, where the drive stalled. Quentin Jammer knocked down a pass on a fourth down fade route intended for Justin McCareins to ice the win. The Jets fell to 2-6, essentially eliminating them from Playoff contention, but had to feel good about the play of young Bollinger. Based on this performance, it appeared he might spark the team and develop into a quality quarterback. This did not happen. People also remember this game for LaDaniain Tomlinson's 3 rushing touchdowns, including one where he faked Ty Law out of his shoes.
January 8 2005: Jets 20 Chargers 17 (Overtime)
This Wild Card game was probably the most famous meeting between the teams. The Jets jumped out to a 17-7 lead in the third quarter on a Chad Pennington 47 yard bomb to Santana Moss. Pennington's arm strength and play in big games had become a point of scrutiny in the media during the week leading up to the contest. That one throw momentarily silenced his doubters. We did not know at the time that Chad was playing with a torn rotator cuff, which makes that throw and his 23 for 33, 279 yard, 2 touchdown effort all the more impressive.
This game went down in history for a pair of catastrophic errors. The first was by the Jets. New York registered an epic goal line stand in the waning moments of regulation to protect a 17-10 lead, but Eric Barton hit Drew Brees in the head on a fourth down incompletion, drawing a roughing the passer call. San Diego scored on the next play to send the game into overtime. Once there, the Chargers put together an impressive drive on New York's fatiguing defense. Marty Schottenheimer then inexplicably got very conservative upon reaching the outskirts of field goal range and played for a 40 yard field goal with a rookie kicker. Nate Kaeding missed the kick, and the Jets put together a drive to set up a 28 yard game-winning kick for Doug Brien to advance to the second round.
A hero one week, Brien would be the goat the next week, missing a pair of field goals at the end of regulation as New York was eliminated by the Steelers in overtime.
September 19, 2004: Jets 34 Chargers 28
After leading 27-7, New York had to sweat until the final minute to preserve a win and go 2-0. Curtis Martin ran for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns, becoming the all-time leading rusher in franchise history in the contest. This game is also notable because it seemed to mark the end of Drew Brees' career as an NFL starting quarterback. The Purdue product had struggled so mightily in his career that the Chargers went out and got Phillip Rivers in a Draft day trade with the Giants a few months earlier. When Marty Schottenheimer pulled Brees, who went 8 for 19 with 2 interceptions in the game, in favor of Doug Flutie late in the contest, it appeared Brees had exhausted all of his the chances he was going to get in San Diego. Brees would remarkably turn his career around from that point and become one of the game's best quarterbacks.
November 3, 2002: Jets 44 Chargers 13
The Jets entered this game at 2-5, coming off a catastrophic home loss to the Browns that seemed to all but end their season. San Diego entered 6-1, coming off a bye week. Gang Green dominated from the outset, opening up a 34-7 halftime lead. This contest dramatically altered two seasons. New York used it as a springboard, winning 7 of its last 9 to finish 9-7 and win the AFC East. The Chargers won only twice more, ending the year out of the Playoffs with a disappointing 8-8 record.