We recently attempted to rank each of the times the Jets made the postseason since the merger in terms of how exciting and memorable it was. However, more often than not, the Jets have failed to make the playoffs, including in each of the last 11 seasons.
They’ve been close a lot, though. Today, we’re going to attempt to rank the top-10 near misses. Which were the most unbearably frustrating occasions where the Jets almost made the playoffs, but fell short?
In truth, the 2012 Jets weren’t that close to making the postseason. They ended up with just six wins and were eliminated with two games still remaining. However, it was a team that overcome so much to still find themselves in the mix down the stretch only to then repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot.
An eventful campaign saw Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes lost for the year early in the season and Mark Sanchez benched for Greg McElroy. Somehow, though, they were 6-7 with three winnable games on the schedule.
The next game, on National TV, was a microcosm of the season as a whole. The defense dominated, holding Tennessee to less than 150 passing yards. However, they had one major breakdown, giving up a 94-yard touchdown run. Despite this, the Jets kept getting second chances to clinch the win in the second half, but Sanchez threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. Had the Jets played conservatively and settled for field goals instead, they probably would have won, but the 14-10 loss doomed their season.
This was a season that began in promising fashion as the Jets started off at 6-2. Unfortunately, they lost their last six to miss the postseason at 7-9, although they were eliminated with three weeks to go.
Only one of those six losses down the stretch was a one-possession game, as they lost to the Colts with an unconventional 9-5 scoreline.
The Jets should easily have made the postseason in 2011. Even after throwing away an easily winnable game against Tim Tebow’s Broncos, they found themselves 8-5 with three games to go.
Unfortunately, they lost their last three with the final game rendered moot because of other results that eliminated them from contention.
The real killer was a memorable loss to the Giants on Christmas Eve. The Jets played well in the first half, but missed tackles led to a 99-yard Victor Cruz touchdown just before halftime and the Giants took control. The Jets pulled within a score late but ultimately lost by 15. In retrospect, having Sanchez drop back 70 times probably wasn’t a great idea.
The Jets ended the 1972 season with a 7-7 record, but probably would have made the playoffs if they won their penultimate game against the Raiders.
They led 13-10 at half time and were within a point in the fourth quarter but a late 68-yard Raiders touchdown clinched a 24-16 win to eliminate the Jets from contention.
This was probably Joe Namath’s last realistic chance to return to the postseason.
Over the years, the 2008 season has become somewhat romanticized. Poor old Brett Favre was going to lead the Jets to the Super Bowl if he didn’t get injured. Sure enough, he had the Jets at 8-3 after an impressive win over the at-the-time unbeaten Titans.
The reality was that the Jets team had a lot of talent but also some serious holes and their 8-3 start was a bit of a mirage. They barely beat some really bad teams during that run with the likes of Tyler Thigpen, Matt Cassel and a young Ryan Fitzpatrick dinking and dunking the Jets’ awful underneath coverage to death.
This should have been a warning sign as the Jets headed into their last five games, all of which seemed winnable. They lost four of the five, with the only win coming on a fluke Shaun Ellis touchdown. Losses to the likes of Shaun Hill and Seneca Wallace put an end to the Jets’ playoff hopes - and the Eric Mangini era.
The Jets were already eliminated before their final game, the outcome of which would determine whether the Dolphins or Patriots would win the AFC East.
The Jets had an amazing defense in 1993, led by Mo Lewis. Late season 6-0 and 3-0 wins (bracketing a 9-6 loss) had them right in contention at 8-5.
A big chance to secure their spot was lost in their penultimate game as kicker Cary Blanchard missed three field goals, including this one right at the end which initially looked good but then took a left turn in the wind to preserve a 16-14 Bills win.
This still left the Jets in a win-and-in scenario before their final game against the Oilers, but they got shut out 24-0.
The 1978 Jets entered their penultimate game against the Browns with an 8-6 record but looked to have blown their chance as they fell behind 27-10 with less than 10 minutes to go against the Browns.
However, Matt Robinson led them to an improbable comeback to unbelievably give the Jets a late 34-27 lead. In true “Same Old Jets” fashion, they gave up a last minute touchdown and lost the game in overtime to secure their elimination, ending the season with an 8-8 record.
This season all came down to the final game against the 11-4 Ravens and their historically good defense. The Jets outgained the Ravens by 524 yards to 142 with Vinny Testaverde setting some franchise records on his way to a 481-yard performance.
Somehow, though, the Jets still managed to lose. They had led until right before half-time, when the Ravens returned an interception 98 yards to take the lead. The Jets then gave up two punt return touchdowns in the second half and went on to lose 34-20.
Another season that saw a 9-6 Jets team trying to sneak into the postseason by winning their last game was 1997. They took an early 10-0 lead against the Lions but eventually fell behind 13-10 on a fourth quarter Barry Sanders touchdown run.
On the ensuing drive, the Jets got inside the 10-yard line and faced a first down with under eight minutes to go. The play called for halfback Leon Johnson to throw a pass and it was intercepted, effectively ending the Jets’ threat.
In recent years, this was really the only time the Jets got close - and it was also the only time they won 10 games but didn’t make it. They were favored at home against a mediocre Bills team in the season finale but Darrelle Revis and Ryan Fitzpatrick each had poor games and the Bills came away with a 22-17 win.
In the final minute, Fitzpatrick had a chance for redemption and came this close to connecting with reserve Kenbrell Thompkins on an improbable game-winning touchdown pass.
How did we do? Would you change any of these rankings? Share your own memories in the comments section.