This week SB Nation is asking its NFL sites to ask its readers where it was during an important event in team history.
Sixteen years have passed since the last time the Jets won the AFC East. When the Jets clinched the division title in 2002, it capped a wild season. The events of Week 17 were the wildest of all.
It was amazing the Jets were even in the hunt for the division title after starting 1-4. A quarterback change to Chad Pennington helped spark the team, but a Week 15 loss to the hapless Bears Week 15 seemed to end all realistic hopes. Then the Jets got the help they needed Week 16 as the Vikings beat the Dolphins. The Jets took care of their own business with a convincing Sunday night victory in Foxborough over the defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots.
That set up a Week 17 for the ages. The Jets played the Packers in the late afternoon timeslot. It wasn’t even clear the game would be meaningful by kickoff. The Jets could have been eliminated by the early games. They needed the Patriots to beat the Dolphins in Foxborough to have a shot at winning the East. If the Falcons beat the Browns, they also would have a shot at earning a Wild Card with a win. If the Dolphins and Browns won, the Jets were eliminated.
Things looked bleak late in the fourth quarter of games. The Browns scored a pair of late touchdowns and put together a goal line stand to beat Atlanta.
They didn’t look any better in Foxborough. The Dolphins held an 11 point lead late in the fourth quarter. Then Miami simply fell apart in a sequence that involved a pass interference penalty, a muffed kickoff, suspect playcalling, a shanked punt and more. The Patriots forced overtime and eventually won the game on an Adam Vinatieri field goal.
Overtime of the Miami-New England game was taking place after the Jets kicked off against Green Bay. The stadium erupted in cheers after the Jets were called for holding because of the news Miami had lost.
The Jets ended up winning 42-17 with a second half explosion, turning a tight 14-10 halftime score into a nail biter. The win was sweet. Not only did the Jets win the AFC East but the victory knocked their two most bitter rivals, Miami and New England, out of the Playoffs.
I think the reason I go back to this day was because of how wild of a ride those 7 plus hours of football were. I also remember being all over the place that day. I was still in school, and my family went into New York for an after Christmas trip. Around 1:00 I remember trying to watch the Miami-New England game at the restaurant where we sat. In the days before smart phones, I sat on the train ride home nervously wondering what was happening. I was focused on the radio as we rode home from the train station and was glued to the TV after.
I have heard from people who were in the Meadowlands that practically everybody had a portable TV or radio to watch or listen to Miami-New England.
Where were you that day?