My Five Biggest New York Jets' Disappointments: 1997 Week 17 vs. Detroit Lions

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This afternoon, let’s take a trip down memory lane while we have some time. Let’s go back and look at some of our gravest disappointments in Jets’ history. Specifically, during my time watching the team, which dates back to 1985. Feel free to comment on this game, or others that you think should be on the list in the comments section.

Without further adieu, here comes number 5:

WEEK 17:1997, NEW YORK JETS VS. DETROIT LIONS

What a year this was, wasn’t it? We had just come off the following past three head coaches, Bruce Coslet, Pete Carroll, and Rich Kotite. The last straw for Leon Hess, the Jets’ late owner, was a 1-15 finish in 1996. At that point, as we all know, Leon Hess finally pulled out all of the stops and brought us the great Bill Parcells.

And we all knew things were going to get better.

We didn’t know it was going to get better THIS quickly though. Bill Parcells took basically the same team that went 1-15 the previous season, to the brink of the playoffs. The Jets were 9-6 heading into the final week of the 1997 season. A win against the Lions would have guaranteed the Jets a playoff spot, with an outside chance at winning the AFC East. Imagine that?

It started out well, as the Jets were leading at halftime by a score of 10-3. Bill Parcells had nearly done it, taken a 1-15 team to the playoffs in one season. Parcells was one half away from doing the nearly impossible.

But it was still the Jets.

In this one, we even saw what happens when Parcells doesn’t like a player. He never got along with Neil O’Donnell, thought he was soft. Therefore he would never trust him in important situations, and that was to the forefront in this game. Bill inserted Ray Lucas for a series of plays, bypassing O’Donnell and his backup, Glenn Foley. Lucas threw an INT in the four pass attempts he made.

Parcells also placed running back Leon Johnson into the game to throw a pass, again taking the ball out of the quarterback’s hands. Leon threw an INT as well, and the Lions went on to post ten unanswered points in the second half to win the game 13-10 and end the Jets’ playoff hopes.

Why was this such a disappointment? Because the turnaround made our expectations sky-high. The fact that Bill Parcells could lead this team that close made you think, “we can do this!” It had been so long since we had been to the playoffs, and Bill worked his magic so quickly, that we thought the next step would come right away.

But we had to wait one more year.

Keep it here for number four tomorrow.

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