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New York Jets Throwback Thursday: The Touchdown That Wasn't

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"God's playing in some of these games and He was on our side today" - Bill Parcells

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Some days, life just goes your way. December 6, 1998 was one of those days for the New York Jets.

In a Week 14 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, the 9-4 Jets were looking to maintain their first place grasp on the AFC East as the playoffs approached. This was also a must-win game for the 6-7 Seahawks who were trying for a late push of their own. As the Seahawks were just entering Jets territory on their opening possession, quarterback Jon Kitna fumbled under pressure and Victor Green recovered for the Jets. Vinny Testaverde then promptly marched the offense down the field, ending in a 3-yard touchdown pass to Keith Byars to put New York in control early. On just the second play of the ensuing Seattle possession, Jon Kitna turned the ball over again, this time an interception by Jerome Henderson, but Henderson fumbled the ball right back to the Seahawks. Kitna quickly responded after 2 early turnovers, finding Joey Galloway on a 70-yard touchdown and then a 57-yard touchdown to close the 1st quarter.

After a John Hall field goal cut the lead to 14-10, Seahawks Ricky Watters found the endzone on a 39-yard rushing touchdown to boost the lead to 2 scores, 21-10. The Jets offense would respond, but had only enough time for another Hall field goal to close the first half. 21-13 Seahawks. After receiving the kick to start the second half, the Jets would quickly dig themselves a deeper hole. On the opening drive, Testaverde was intercepted by Anthony Simmons, who returned it 36 yards for the touchdown. 28-13 Seahawks just like that. New York then went back to what always worked and rode Curtis Martin for a much-needed rushing score. The following 2-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, a crucial moment for the Jets to cut the lead to one score. However, Jon Kitna and the Seahawks offense would be stifled by the Jets defense the rest of the game, mustering only another field goal to make it 31-19.

Early on in the 4th quarter, Testaverde found Keyshawn Johnson for a 16-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 31-26. The play of the game and the moment that would end up having a larger-than-life impact on the NFL came late in the 4th quarter. With 27 seconds remaining on a 4th-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Testaverde scored on a quarterback sneak. However, the ball clearly did not cross the plane. Seahawks' head coach Dennis Erickson was later told that officials thought that Testaverde's helmet (which crossed the plane) was the ball. Since replays had been suspended after a shaky 6-year period from 1986-1991, the call stood on the field and the Jets won the game 32-31.

That play caused a huge uproar in the NFL and nearly prompted league owners to bring back replay on a limited basis for the playoffs that season. At the league meetings in March of the following year, a new replay system passed: 2 coaches' challenges per game, with a timeout penalty if the call is upheld. All replays under 2 minutes of each half were sent to the booth. As we are all familiar with, there have been even more recent amendments to the replay system, with all scoring and turnover plays now automatically reviewed.

It is really interesting to think about how big of a role technology actually plays in the sports world today. If this same game were played today, the Jets would have lost, perhaps would not have made the 1998 AFC Championship game, and maybe Seattle wouldn't have fired their head coach. For baseball fans, Armando Galarraga would have a perfect game on his resume. The updated replay system and the increased use of technology has really helped level the playing field in all of sports, but on this day, things went the Jets way for a nice change of pace.