Every week this season I'll be taking a look at past match-ups between the New York Jets and their upcoming opponents. Some notable moments will be recent, others may go back a bit. Enjoy.
The New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play their 11th head-to-head game in their history Sunday afternoon. While these two teams rarely play each other, the Jets have dominated Tampa Bay in their past meetings, winning nine out of the 10 contests and outscoring them 273-145 in the process.
November 14, 1976: The first ever meeting between the Jets (3-6) and Buccaneers (0-9) was not a pretty one for Tampa Bay as Gang Green posted a 34-0 shutout. Clark Gaines rushed into the end zone in the first quarter for the opening touchdown and the Jets never looked back. Touchdowns from Joe Namath (to Rich Caster), Steve Davis and Lou Piccone (60 yard punt return) and a pair of field goals by Pat Leahy rounded out the scoring.
December 30, 1990: In the 1990 season finale, neither the Jets (5-10) nor Buccaneers (6-9) had anything to play for. While the Bucs came out to an early 7-3 lead in the second quarter it was the Jets led by running back Blair Thomas and two field goals from Pat Leahy (still with the Jets 14 years after Game 1 between NYJ and TB) that gave the Jets a 16-7 lead. Future Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde attempted to lead a comeback victory with a fourth quarter touchdown, however the Buccaneers would fall short and lose 16-14 in Week 17. New York had four different players rush for 35 yards.
September 1, 1991: After facing off in the season finale just nine months earlier, the Jets (0-0) and Buccaneers (0-0) would play yet another tightly contested game to kickoff the '91 season. After trading scores for the first three quarters it was the Jets who entered the fourth quarter with a 13-6 lead at the old Meadowlands. That was before Vinny Testaverde tossed a 65-yard, game-tying, catch and run touchdown pass with 5:57 remaining. Pat Leahy's 40-yard field goal with 1:19 remaining gave the Jets the lead and on the ensuing kickoff, Tampa Bay return man Dale Dawkins fumbled, New York recovered and kneeled out the clock, starting off the season with 1-0 record.
September 24, 2000: Darrelle Revis isn't the first former Jet star they've sent to Tampa Bay. Months after trading him away, the Jets (3-0) were set to face receiver Keyshawn Johnson and the Buccaneers (3-0). Both were undefeated headed into this contest. After Johnson had gone the entire week prior taunting his former team, calling himself a star and New York receiver Wayne Chrebet "a flashlight", it appeared as if he had won Round 1, with Tampa Bay holding a 17-6 lead with less than two minutes remaining. Not so fast, said the Jets, as Testaverde, now with Gang Green, threw a 6-yard touchdown to Curtis Martin with 1:54 remaining, cutting the deficit to 17-14. After a fumble by TB fullback Mike Alstott was recovered by New York, on a halfback pass, Curtis Martin found Wayne "the flashlight" Chrebet in the corner of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. 21-17 final.
The last Jets-Bucs meeting, while not very notable, had Kellen Clemens, in for the injured rookie QB Mark Sanchez, riding a strong Jets running game led by Thomas Jones to a 26-3 victory and was an important game as the Jets needed every win to make it to the postseason in 2009.
There are plenty of story lines heading into this weekend's match-up: Geno Smith's first career start, the question of will Santonio Holmes play, the debut of Chris Ivory and offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg and, of course, the return of Darrelle Revis. It appears to be a tough match-up to start the season for New York, but if the past tells us anything, the Jets are up to the task.