With the 2017 NFL season fully underway, teams are already shaping their roads to the playoffs, and possibly the Super Bowl.
For the Jets and their fans, it seems Gang Green is performing much better than expected. Surprising to many, the Jets have been contenders in many of their games this year, and the hopes of this young team have seemingly been raised from the ashes.
As the Jets hope to surprise more fans and people, it seems it is the perfect time to we look back at the past to remember what was and what might someday come again.
This is a list of the most exciting games within the past few years. Some are playoff wins, some seem like meaningless games. All in all, they were fun to watch. So now, let’s look for a bit of positivity in this 2017 rebuilding season.
Ryan’s Swan Song/ Geno’s Perfect Game – Jets vs Dolphins (2014)
At the end of the 2014 season, things couldn’t be going worse for the Jets. Their best quarterback on the roster was Geno Smith. Rex Ryan had been on the hot seat. The team was 3-12. It was a terrible year. Going into Week 17 against an 8-7 Miami Dolphins team on their own field, the game felt like a loss before it even began. The Jets went in at halftime down 17-14.
After immediately punting on the opening possession of the second half, the Dolphins handed the ball off to Lamar Miller, who proceeded to run 97 yards on their first play.
The Jets didn’t let up.
Geno Smith hit Eric Decker for a 74 yard touchdown soon after, which immediately got the Jets back into the game. The defense held the Dolphins in check the rest of the game, not allowing a single point after Miller’s long run.
In the fourth quarter, the Jets clung to a 27-24 lead after a pair of Nick Folk field goals put them on top. On Fourth down, with 4:19 remaining in the game, Rex Ryan decided to fake a punt. Ryan Quigley threw to tight end Zach Sudfeld for a 38 yard gain. Geno Smith hit another tight end in Jeff Cumberland for a touchdown, which all but iced the game.
Geno Smith logged in a perfect game, completing 20 of his 25 passing attempts for 358 yards and three touchdowns. Eric Decker had a monster game, catching 10 of his 11 targets for 221 yards and one touchdown. That gave us a sign of what was to come in 2015 from the wide receiver position.
Final Score: 37-24
Fitzpatrick’s Debut/The Year’s Best Receiving Duo – Browns vs Jets (2015)
So why is a blowout against a sorry Browns team on this list? Because this team played at such a high level that nobody was expecting.
It was Week One of the 2015 season, the Jets were coming off of a 4-12 2014 season. They drafted well. They got a new coach. Things were looking good for this Jets team. Perhaps fans could be excited for the season ahead.
After Geno Smith got into a locker room exchange that resulted in a broken jaw, Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as the Week One starter.
The game was an ugly start. No points were scored in the first quarter, the Browns struck first with a 7-0 lead, and Fitzpatrick threw an interception Tashaun Gipson. Oddly enough, that play turned positive for New York, as Brandon Marshall ripped the ball from the defender’s hands. Chris Ivory then ran it in and tied the ballgame up.
Fitzpatrick would later lead a scoring drive, ending in Eric Decker’s first touchdown of the year just before the first half came to a close. In the second half, the Jets made quick work of a Johnny Manziel interception, turning it into points with a Brandon Marshall touchdown. Chris Ivory later scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, his second on the day.
Fitzpatrick ended the day completing 15 of 24 passes for 179 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Ivory ran for 91 yards on 20 carries for 2 touchdowns. This offense would become a regular thing in the 2015 season.
Final Score: 31-10
MetLife Bowl/Fitzpatrick Leads the Comeback – Jets vs Giants (2015)
Later on in the year, the Jets were a serious threat to the playoff picture. They were full of energy, momentum, and they were winning games. That dream of ending the playoff drought almost took a hit by the second quarter of the game against the Giants, when they scored 20 points against the Jets defense. By halftime, some fans may have considered the season to be over by that point.
The Giants then went on to march down the field in what felt like one of the longest possession ever. The Jets offense was kept off the field for over thirty minutes while the Giants continued to chew away at the clock. With just over 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin elected to go for it on a fourth down play instead of settling for the field goal. This came back to bite them, as the pass was intercepted by Rontez Miles. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team down the field, but only managed a field goal.
The Jets defense forced the Giants to punt, giving them just over two minutes to run their offense and score. Fitzpatrick and the Jets kept the drive and game alive, moving the ball downfield while converting on a critical fourth and six with one minute to go. Fitzpatrick hit Brandon Marshall for the tying score with less than thirty seconds remaining to force overtime.
In Overtime, the Jets managed only a field goal, but it proved to be all they would need. When the Giants started driving, they too managed to find themselves in field goal range. Josh Brown kicked the ball up– missing the uprights wide left.
Final Score: 23-20
An Upset in the Meadowlands – Patriots vs Jets (2015)
Just a few weeks after the exciting MetLife Bowl, the Jets were on a winning streak that they desperately needed. Entering Week 16 at 9-5, the Jets had to win the next two games and have the Pittsburgh Steelers lose at least one. They couldn’t focus on anyone but themselves. Following a close victory over the Cowboys the week before, the Jets were hot, and they needed to be if they were to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The Patriots started off the season 10-0. The Jets still hadn’t reached double digit wins. Just about every analyst predicted the Patriots would take the victory, but New York would have the last laugh.
Following a slow start for the Patriots, the Jets led 10-3 at halftime. As Tom Brady often does, he led the comeback in the second half, scoring on a pass to James White with less than two minutes to go. After the Jets could do nothing in that time span, the game went into overtime. That was when things got a bit strange.
The Patriots won the coin toss, but elected to give the Jets the ball. The call was confusing to just about everybody, but since the Jets’ offense seemed to sputter out in the second half, it didn’t seem like a strange call. Give them the ball, get the stop, win the game on the field goal, end the season for New York.
Fitzpatrick and the Jets didn’t quite follow that expectation.
Getting the ball, Ryan Fitzpatrick relied on big plays by Quincy Enunwa and Brandon Marshall to move into scoring range. On a first and goal fade to Eric Decker, the Jets scored the walk off touchdown. Decker even topped off the victory with a Lambeau Leap following his winning grab against Superbowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler.
Ryan Fitzpatrick outplayed Tom Brady, completing 26 passes for 296 and three touchdowns. He did, however, fumble the ball that was recovered for a touchdown, allowing the Patriots to close the gap on a 17-6 ball game in the third quarter. Brandon Marshall caught eight passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. The Jets, at that time, seemed like the hottest team heading into Week 17, riding a five game winning streak.
Final Score: 26-20 OT
What Seemed Like Destiny – Jets vs Patriots (2010 Playoffs)
Mark Sanchez. Braylon Edwards. LaDainian Tomlinson.
Darrelle Revis. Damon Harrison. Antonio Cromartie.
Looking back at it now, it seemed that if we had a better quarterback for a team as loaded as this, the Jets would have probably hoisted more than one Lombardi Trophy in the early years of the Rex Ryan era. But whenever somebody brings up the butt fumble, just remember this:
Mark Sanchez has a 4-2 playoff record. Those include wins over Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, and Philip Rivers. Oh, and one other guy.
Tom Brady. In Foxborough.
Following a narrow victory in an AFC Championship rematch over the Colts, the Jets rode into New England, needing a win to march to their second Championship game in a row. The Patriots, riding hot on a 14-2 season and coming off a bye week, were clear favorites to take down the Jets. In their last meeting during the regular season, the Patriots dismantled the Jets 45-3, but Gang Green wasn’t going to let that determine their fate.
The Jets gave a hint at the impending upset early in the first. With about eight minutes to go in the first quarter, Tom Brady threw a pass just a tad bit high, and David Harris responded by intercepting. He returned the ball 58 yards before being brought down. While the Jets did not capitalize on the field position, it was a sign of things to come.
Later on, the Patriots leaped out to a 3-0 lead, which would be the only score of the first quarter. The Jets struck back in the second quarter. Mark Sanchez threw a seven yard touchdown pass to future hall-of-famer LaDainian Tomlinson. Following the extra point, the Jets took the lead 7-3 and never looked back.
With a minute to go in the first half, the Patriots attempted a fake punt, but Patrick Chung mishandled the snap. Jets were on top of him and took over with excellent field position. This time, New York would capitalize. With help from a few runs from Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez hit Braylon Edwards, who carried a couple of Patriots with him into the endzone to bring the score to 14-3 before the half.
The Patriots answered late in the third quarter. With a successful touchdown pass and two point conversion, the score was 14-11, and New England was suddenly filled with life, but the Jets wouldn’t let their momentum be stifled. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Sanchez completed a pass to Jerricho Cotchery, who carried the ball 58 yards and into the redzone.
With another seven yard pass, Mark Sanchez connected with Santonio Holmes in the endzone for a touchdown. The Jets were in complete control, leading 21-11. A Patriots field goal brought it to 21-14 at the two minute warning. New England attempted an onside kick, but it was quickly recovered by Antonio Cromartie and returned deep into Patriots territory.
The Jets put the Patriots to bed, emphasized by Shonn Greene who used the ball as a pillow in the endzone after capping off a 16 yard touchdown run. Tom Brady led a touchdown drive, scoring with 24 seconds remaining, but the Patriots failed to recover the onside kick. A Sanchez kneel down and a Braylon Edwards double front-flip solidified the win, and the Jets went on to Pittsburgh.
Final Score: 28-21
That was the last time the Jets had won a playoff game. That was also the last time the Jets went to the postseason. Now, weeks into the 2017 Season, the Jets are a surprise again. Is the team amazing? Probably not. Is it great to see these young players ball out as they have? Of course. Darron Lee, Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, and Robby Anderson are just a few young players who could soon become the faces of this Jets team. There will be another playoff run that was as amazing as those in 2009 and 2010. With the right quarterback, the Jets could one day return to the Superbowl.
For now, the team must rebuild. The youth movement has paid off so far. There is no telling what the future will hold.