Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets former quarterback Joe Namath before Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Despite their frequent and highly publicized struggles, the NY Jets have provided their fans with plenty of exciting moments. Here are their 30 greatest ones.
The path of a Jets fan has never been an easy one. The Jets, and their career record of 381-454-8, have left their fans with plenty of opportunities to be disappointed. The team has not won a championship since the 1960’s, and has made only three playoff appearances over the past decade.
As if their playoff struggles are not enough, the Jets are unfortunate enough to play in the hyper-competitive and cutthroat New York market. Every snap of every game is under intense scrutiny.
Look at the now infamous “Butt Fumble.” A single ugly play made by an almost entirely different Jets team years ago is still used as fodder to mock the franchise.
Jets fans deserve better. They occasionally should have their faith rewarded. No one knows when the Jets will win another championship, but the fans can at least take a pleasant stroll down memory lane.
The following list discusses the top 30 greatest moments in franchise history.
Next: 30. Jets Add Hall of Fame Running Back
Jan 28, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL former running back Ladainian Tomlinson is interviewed on radio row before Super Bowl XLIX at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
30. Jets sign LaDainian Tomlinson
When he is eventually inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, few people will remember that running back LaDainian Tomlinson was once a Jet. The superstar played for nine seasons with the Chargers, rushing for an astounding 12,490 yards over that span.
However, thanks to a shrewd free agent signing in 2010, at least Jets fans got to watch the legend don green and white. Tomlinson played two seasons with the Jets (2010-2011).
In particular, the star back played a pivotal role in the success of the 2010 Jets. Tomlinson amassed over 1,200 all-purpose yards and scored six touchdowns as the Jets cruised to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth.
Tomlinson’s tenure in New York may have been short lived, but Jets fans are thankful for the memories.
Next: 29. Jets Finally Draft Playoff-Caliber Quarterback
Jan 31, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Jets former quarterback Chad Pennington on the red carpet prior to the NFL Honors award ceremony at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
29. Jets draft Chad Pennington
When discussing former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, its easy to focus on the negatives. The Jets drafted Pennington in the first round when they could have had Tom Brady in the sixth. Pennington could never stay healthy. He had a noodle arm.
Yet, in spite of the critics, the Jets would be fortunate to find more quarterbacks like Pennington. The Marshall star went on to become one of the most accurate passers in NFL history (career 66 completion percentage). He also posted a winning record (32-29) and helped pilot the team to three playoff appearances.
If not for his multiple health issues, Pennington could easily have gone down as the greatest quarterback in team history. Even with them, the quarterback has earned his place in team lore.
Next: 28. Jets Finally Catch a Break
Nov 9, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; A end zone pylon with the NFL Armed Services week logo during the NFL game between the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
28. 1991 Jets make playoffs
The 1991 Jets were a team in transition. They had been floundering heavily over the past two seasons, compiling a pitiful 10-22 record. With starting quarterback Ken O’Brien nearing the end of his career, Jets fans expected more of the same entering the 1991 season.
In many ways, the fans were right. The 1991 Jets were not a particularly talented football team. They posted three game losing streaks on two separate occasions, and had a mediocre 7-8 record heading into the last game of the season.
Yet there was cause for hope. The Jets pulled off a thrilling 23-20 overtime win over the Dolphins in their season finale. Even more exciting, the Jets 8-8 record was somehow good enough to clinch them a playoff berth.
Yes, they lost to the Houston Oilers in the first round of the playoffs. But even that setback can not totally sully the team’s magical and incredibly lucky 1991 season.
Next: 27. Jets Find Elite Wide Receiver
Oct 4, 2015; London, United Kingdom; New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall (15) is defended by Miami Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor (22) in Game 12 of the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium.The Jets defeated the Dolphins 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
27. Jets trade for Brandon Marshall
At first glance, it appears premature to include the Jets acquisition of Brandon Marshall among the team’s greatest moments. After all, the wide receiver has not even made it through his first season as a Jet yet.
However, the decision of Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan to trade for Marshall will go down as one of the greatest front office moves in the organization’s history. Marshall already has posted four consecutive games of 100+ receiving yards, a feat that no Jets wide receiver had accomplished since Don Maynard in 1968.
When you take a team that has traditionally struggled to field elite pass catching threats and find a way to correct the problem, its a solid front office move. Factor in the incredibly low cost of the Marshall trade (5th round pick) and it becomes a moment Jets fans will remember fondly for years.
Next: 26. Jets Find a Hungry Coach
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan yells out from the sideline during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
26. Rex Ryan is named Jets Head Coach
The 2008 Jets were one of the most disappointing teams in franchise history. Under the guidance of head coach Eric Mangini and with the support of rental quarterback Brett Favre, the team initially soared to an 8-3 record. However, Favre’s health deteriorated, and the team went 1-4 down the stretch and missed the playoffs.
Approaching the offseason, the Jets needed a dramatic shakeup. Mangini was fired, and Favre “retired” (later joining the Vikings). In their place, the Jets added a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach.
Although it is difficult to believe now, Rex Ryan was a relative unknown prior to his head coaching tenure with the Jets. Rather than being known for bold predictions and bravado, snacks and feet, he was a former defensive coordinator who had thrived in Baltimore.
Jokes and brashness aside, the addition of Ryan as head coach was precisely what the Jets needed at the time. Although his act eventually became old and tired, he brought hope to a tortured franchise and helped guide the team to two AFC Championship game appearances.
Next: 25. Jets Hero Flies Home
Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
25. Darrelle Revis returns to New York
Life as a sports fan can be a complicated and confusing journey laden with emotional highs and lows. This is particularly true in the modern era of professional sports, where free agency and trades result in players frequently changing teams. Yesterday’s “bum” can be tomorrow’s hero, provided he puts on the proper color jersey.
Everyone remembers the uproar the city of Cleveland was thrown into when LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat. A few short years later, the same Cleveland fans who had publicly burned their James jerseys welcomed the prodigal son back to the hometown Cavaliers.
On a less publicized level, the story of Jets superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis followed a similar arc. Originally drafted in 2007 by the Jets, Revis’ immense talent eventually resulted in immense contract demands. The team, under miser general manager John Idzik, tired of Revis and traded him to the Buccaneers. In true cursed Jets fashion, Revis eventually found himself winning a championship with the hated Patriots.
Yet time (and in this case a 5 year/$70 million contract) can heal all wounds. Under new leadership, the 2015 Jets brought Revis home. Revis’ homecoming has been a success so far (three interceptions in 2015). Even if he never helps the Jets capture a championship, the impact that Revis has had and continues to have on the franchise is undeniable.
Next: 24. Battle of the 1983 Draft Class
24. Ken O’Brien triumphs over Dan Marino in OT thriller
Every once in a while, even a bad decision can yield a positive outcome.
Leading up to the 1983 NFL Draft, the Jets had an opportunity to make a franchise altering decision. The team needed an upgrade at quarterback over the mediocre Richard Todd, and they had a first round draft pick in the richest quarterback draft in NFL history.
After the dust had settled, six quarterbacks were taken in the first round. Three of those quarterbacks (John Elway, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino) went on to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Unfortunately for the Jets, they passed up on the opportunity to select Marino and drafted Ken O’Brien instead. O’Brien was talented, but he was no Marino.
For at least one day, however, it looked as if the Jets may have made the right choice. In a 1986 game that saw over 900 combined passing yards and 10 combined passing touchdowns, O’Brien led the Jets to a thrilling 51-45 overtime win over Marino’s Dolphins.
Jets fans can only wonder how many championships their team might have won if the Jets had drafted Marino, but at least O’Brien left them with a few pleasant memories.
Next: 23. Jets Sign Perennial Pro Bowler
23. Jets sign Kevin Mawae
Center Kevin Mawae will forever be known as one of the greatest offensive lineman in Jets history. Although most NFL fans are familiar with Mawae, few know his origin story.
Mawae was drafted by the Seahawks in 1994, where he initially played right guard. After enjoying modest success in Seattle, the Jets signed Mawae as a free agent in 1998.
Mawae excelled as a Jet. The star center started every game in seven out of his eight seasons in New York. He also made six Pro Bowls as a Jet, and played an essential role in the success of Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin.
Although he never won a ring in New York, Jets fans will always remember and appreciate the stability and quiet success that Mawae brought to their team’s offense.
Next: 22. Jets win Wild Card Thriller
22. Jets defeat Chargers in 2004 Wild Card game
The 2004 Jets were a roller coaster. The team was certainly talented, battling their way to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. On the other hand, they suffered two multiple game losing streaks and lost a few overtime games along the way.
The chaos of this Jets team was never more evident than in their 2004 Wild Card playoff game. Entering the fourth quarter, the Jets carried a 17-7 lead over the favored Chargers. That lead quickly collapsed however, forcing overtime.
Once again, the Jets were going to lose a heartbreaker. Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding lined up to attempt a 40 yard field goal for the win. But the Jets’ wild ride continued, the Kaeding kick soared wide right, and the Jets won 20-17 on a last second field goal of their own.
Tragically, the Jets’ magic was about to run out. In cruelly ironic fashion, the Jets lost their next playoff game to the Steelers 20-17 in overtime. Adding salt to the wound, Jets kicker Doug Brien missed two field goals in that game and cost the team a chance to appear in the AFC Championship game.
At least for one sunny day in San Diego, however, Jets fans had a reason to hope.
Next: 21. Jets Catch a Big Tuna
Sep 20, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Former New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells stands on stage along with the Vince Lombardi trophy from Super Bowl XXV during half time ceremony honoring the 25th anniversary of their championship at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
21. Bill Parcells agrees to coach Jets
Every sports franchise longs to make that ultimate move, that elite signing or shrewd hire that can bring lasting success and credibility.
For an NFL team in the 1990’s, head coach Bill Parcells was the big fish every team wanted to catch. Appropriate nicknamed the “Big Tuna,” Parcells brought a winning culture everywhere he went.
Prior to joining the Jets, Parcells posted an impressive 109-81-1 career record with 2 Super Bowl titles. After suffering through two miserable seasons (4-28) with Rich Kottie at the helm, the Jets were all in on acquiring Parcells.
Due to contractual obligations with his previous team (Patriots), the Jets hired Parcells as a “consultant.” The Patriots saw through the ruse, and the subsequent legal battle resulted in the Jets sending multiple draft picks to New England.
Although Jets fans wish Parcells had stayed with the team longer, no one can complain about the results. Throughout Parcells’ three year tenure with the team, the Jets went 29-19 with an AFC Championship game appearance.
Next: 20. Jets Anchor their Offensive Line
Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) wears an NYPD cap during the coin toss before a game against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
20. Jets soar in 2006 NFL Draft
After suffering through a miserable 4-12 season in 2005, Jets fans had nothing to look forward to apart from the upcoming NFL draft.
Fortunately for them, the Jets held two first round picks in the 2006 draft, including the fourth overall pick. Perhaps the team could draft a top quarterback prospect like Vince Young or Jay Cutler? Maybe a dynamic playmaker like Reggie Bush would be available? The possibilities were endless.
The Jets decided to go in a different direction. Instead of drafting exciting players, the team opted to select two offensive lineman (Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson) in the first round. If listening carefully, one can still hear the groans of Jets fans echoing from Radio City Music Hall.
In this instance, however, the Jets made the right call. Over the past decade, Mangold and Ferguson have made a combined nine Pro Bowls and 298 starts.
The Jets seldom have stability at quarterback, but thanks to one draft day in 2006, their offensive line has been solid for years.
Next: 19. Jets Steal Hall of Famer from their Rivals
Oct 3, 2015; London, United Kingdom; New York Jets former running back Curtis Martin speaks to the crowd during the 2015 NFL International Series Fan Rally at Trafalgar Square. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
19. Jets sign Curtis Martin
The Jets-Patriots rivalry took a new turn following the 1997 season. The Jets had already poached head coach Bill Parcells from New England. Now they eyed a new prize.
Throughout his first three seasons in New England, running back Curtis Martin posted 3,799 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns. The Patriots had no intentions of letting the star back leave town.
As a restricted free agent, the Patriots could retain Martin’s services as long as they matched any offers made by opposing teams. The Jets were undeterred by the challenge, devising a “poison pill” contract that the Patriots could not afford to match.
All in all, it cost the Jets $36 million over 6 years and two draft picks to land Martin. Considering his remarkable career in New York (seven consecutive seasons of 1,000+ rushing yards), the Martin acquisition turned out to be a steal.
Next: 18. Jets Fly to Canton
Aug 9, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; General view of the Pro Football Hall of Fame logo. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
18. Jets coach Weeb Ewbank inducted into Hall of Fame
Ask the average NFL fan about Weeb Ewbank however, and the most you’ll get are a few confused shrugs.
Despite his anonymity in the modern NFL, Ewbank was a pioneer in the league. As head coach of the Baltimore Colts, he guided the team to back to back NFL Championships in 1958 and 1959.
In 1963, Ewbank left Baltimore to coach a fledgling AFL franchise called the Jets. While it was a long journey (Jets posted non-winning seasons from 1963-1966), Ewbank eventually led the team to their only Super Bowl title in 1968.
As recognition for his legacy, Ewbank became the first Jet to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1978).
Next: 17. Jets Legend Retires
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
17. Wayne Chrebet plays his final game
Wide receiver Wayne Chrebet was not a fan favorite in New York; he was the fan favorite.
Undrafted out of Hofstra, Chrebet’s meteoric rise was the ultimate underdog story. He spent his entire eleven year career with the Jets, posting eight seasons of 600+ receiving yards along the way.
In particular, Chrebet was known and loved for his gritty style of play. The diminutive receiver never shied away from contact or from an opportunity to gain the extra yard. Unfortunately, the same style of play that began Chrebet’s career prematurely ended it. On November 6, 2005, he was forced to retire after suffering yet another concussion.
It may not have been impressive statistically (3 receptions for 39 yards), but Jets fans will always remember Chrebet’s final game.
Next: 16. Jets Fly to Wall Street
16. Jets draft New York Sack Exchange
Great sports teams are seldom built overnight. However, the right draft can go a long way toward reversing the fortune of even the most futile franchises.
After suffering through a nine year playoff drought, the Jets desperately needed the 1979 NFL draft to be a difference maker. The team opted to shore up their defense, using their first two picks on defensive linemen Marty Lyons and Mark Gastineau.
Lyons and Gastineau turned out to be exactly what the Jets needed, and paired up with Joe Klecko and Abdul Salaam to form the dominant “New York Sack Exchange.” The defensive line unit, which combined to amass over 120 career sacks, helped power the Jets to four playoff appearances in the 1980’s.
Thanks to one great draft, Jets fans will forever have fond memories of the Sack Exchange and the terror it used to strike in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks.
Next: 15. Jets All-Time Receiving Yards Leader
15. Don Maynard posts most receiving yards in Jets history
The greatest wide receiver in Jets history was also one of their first.
Drafted by the NFL’s New York Giants in 1957, Don Maynard initially put up modest numbers. Upon the AFL’s founding in 1960, Maynard switched leagues and joined the upstart New York Titans.
The Titans, who were later renamed the Jets, struggled mightily their first few years. Maynard, on the other hand, quickly established himself as one of the best receiving threats in football. Over a proficient 13 year career with the Jets, he posted eight seasons of 800+ receiving yards.
Maynard retired with 11,732 receiving yards and 88 receiving touchdowns. Throughout 50+ years of Jets football, no other Jets player has come close to replicating those numbers.
Next: 14. Jets Humiliate Peyton Manning
Nov 9, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; A NFL football with the Armed Services logo during the NFL game between the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Steelers 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
14. Jets destroy Colts in 2002 Wild Card game
The AFC East was not always dominated by the Patriots. The 2002 Jets rallied from a 1-4 start to win the division with a pedestrian 9-7 record.
Unfortunately for the Jets, the team’s feel good story was about to come to an end. The team had to face future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts in the first round of the playoffs.
Yet for a team that has suffered more than its fair share of blunders, the Jets came ready to play on January 4, 2003. The Jets’ defense pummeled Manning, holding him to 14/ 31 passing for 137 yards and two interceptions. The Jets won in blowout fashion 41-0.
The team’s playoff run was cut short the following week against the Raiders, but the 2002 Jets nevertheless left their fans with plenty of feel good moments.
Next: 13. Jets Pro Bowl Champion
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
13. Winston Hill is named to 8th Pro Bowl
Here’s a fun trivia question for diehard Jets fans. What Jets player has made the most career Pro Bowl appearances? Although most fans would probably name a famous Jets star like Joe Namath or Curtis Martin, the correct answer is more surprising.
Jets offensive tackle Winston Hill was never supposed to blossom into a star. The team that originally drafted him, the Baltimore Colts, did not even keep him on their roster for a full season.
Hill ended up with the Jets, where he became a beacon of consistency on the team’s offensive line. He played with the Jets for over a decade, and served an essential role in the team’s 1968 Super Bowl run. Along the way, Hill was named to an impressive eight Pro Bowl rosters. No other Jet has made more than six Pro Bowl squads.
Hill may not be the most well known Jets star, but no one can question his legacy or his litany of accomplishments on the field.
Next: 12. Jets End a Decade of Futility
12. 1981 Jets make the playoffs
After winning the Super Bowl in 1968 and making the playoffs again in 1969, the Jets experienced an impressively futile stretch. From 1970-1980, the team not only failed to make the playoffs; they failed to post a single winning season.
Fortunately for Jets fans, their team was due for a turnaround. Powered by the New York Sack Exchange, the 1981 Jets made the playoffs with a 10-5-1 record.
Although the team lost in the first round of the playoffs, 1981 represented a turning point for the franchise. The Jets would go on to make the playoffs in three of their next five seasons.
Next: 11. Rookies thrive in New York
11. Youthful Jets flourish in 2009
After Brett Favre failed to lead the Jets to the playoffs in 2008, the team was due for a rebuild. Head coach Eric Mangini was fired, and Favre opted for “retirement” (later joining the Vikings). In their place the Jets hired a new head coach (Rex Ryan) and drafted a new quarterback (Mark Sanchez).
With a rookie coach and quarterback, no one could realistically expect much from this Jets team. At one particularly dire point in the season, even Ryan concluded that his team was not going to make the playoffs.
Yet, as has often been the case, Ryan’s brashness failed to reflect reality. The Jets battled their way to a 9-7 record and a Wild Card berth. What’s more, the team managed to defeat both the Bengals and Chargers on the road in the playoffs.
As the expression goes, all good things must come to an end. After the Jets blew a 17-13 halftime lead against the Colts in the AFC Championship, they were forced to fly home in defeat.
Next: 10. Jets Sack Master has Monster Season
10. Mark Gastineau sets NFL single season sacks record
Under their past two head coaches, Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles, the Jets have fielded some exceptional defenses. Those defenses have been fueled by a litany of talented players, including Darrelle Revis, Muhammad Wilkerson, Antonio Cromartie and David Harris.
Revis, in particular, has posted some incredible seasons. One could easily argue, however, that the greatest all-time season by a Jets defensive player was set by Mark Gastineau.
Gastineau, a member of the famed New York Sack Exchange, was a constant terror in opposing backfields. In 1984, Gastineau amassed 22 sacks and set the single season record.
To this day, Gastineau’s performance ranks as one of the greatest seasons ever by an NFL defensive player. Only one player in league history –Michael Strahan in 2001- has totaled more single season sacks.
Next: 9. Jets Thrive in Strike-Shortened Season
9. 1982 Jets dominate shortened season
The 1982 NFL season was a mess. Courtesy of a lengthy labor dispute, the regular season was shortened to nine games.
Amidst the chaos, the Jets rose to prominence. Despite having to suffer through the pedestrian quarterback play of Richard Todd, the team made the playoffs with a 6-3 record. After defeating the Bengals and Raiders on the road, the Jets were ready to take on the Dolphins in the AFC Championship.
By all accounts, this was a game the Jets should have won. Their defense played lights out, smothering Dolphins quarterback David Woodley (9/21 for 87 yards and 3 interceptions). With a defensive performance like that, the Jets were all but certain of advancing to the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately for Jets fans, Todd possessed a natural ability to grab defeat from the jaws of victory. The quarterback was so dreadful (15/37 for 103 yards and 5 interceptions), the team should have looked to the stands for his replacement. The Jets lost to the Dolphins 14-0, ending their unique place in the NFL’s oddest season.
Next: 8. Jets Running Back becomes a Legend
8. Curtis Martin posts 7th 1,000 yards season
It’s not exactly a secret that Curtis Martin was pretty good at football. The star back was the epitome of reliability, posting over 14,000 rushing yards throughout an impressive 11 year career.
Fortunately for the Jets, the majority of those seasons were in the green and white. After three successful years in New England, the Jets acquired Martin via free agency. Martin went on to post seven straight seasons of 1,000+ rushing yards.
For his consistency and dominance, Martin and his string of 1,000+ yard seasons more than earn their place among greatest Jets moments.
Next: 7. Jets have Legendary Season
7. Jets have magical 1998 season
Historically, the Jets have seldom been dominant. Even at their best, the Jets have usually been the team that makes noise in the playoffs after posting respectable 9-11 win seasons.
The 1998 Jets were the exception. They were not simply good; they were an elite powerhouse. Guided by legendary coach Bill Parcells and an aging but effective Vinny Testaverde (29 TD/7 INT), the Jets cruised to a 12-4 record.
The team entered the playoffs with high expectations. After thrashing the Jaguars in the first round, they had the momentous challenge of facing John Elway’s Broncos in Denver.
In keeping with their usual narrative, the Jets just missed an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. They lost to the Broncos 23-10 in the AFC Championship.
Despite the disappointing end, the 1998 Jets posted the most regular season wins in franchise history and gave fans many reasons to cheer along the way.
Next: 6. A Legendary Comeback
6. Jets win Monday Night Miracle game
For a regular season game to be honored as the sixth greatest moment in Jets franchise history, it would have to have been pretty special. The Monday Night Miracle more than fits that bill.
On October 23, 2000, the Jets (5-1) hosted the Dolphins (5-1) in a fierce division rivalry game. At least the game was expected to be fierce. The Dolphins initially pummeled the Jets, carrying a 30-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
Many Jets fans, frustrated by the blowout and hoping to avoid traffic, left the stadium early. Unfortunately for them, they were about to miss one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.
The Jets rallied to score 30 points in the fourth quarter, forcing the game into overtime. Jets kicker John Hall completed the miracle, nailing a 40 yard field goal to secure a 40-37 overtime win.
To this day, the Monday Night Miracle stands as a cautionary tale for sports fans tempted to leave a game early.
Next: 5. Titans Learn to Fly
5. New York Titans are sold, renamed the Jets
The New York Jets almost never took flight.
Originally founded in 1960 as the New York Titans, the team struggled both on and off the field. The Titans posted a mediocre 19-23 record over their first three seasons. The team also failed to make a profit, forcing owner Harry Wismer’s hand. In 1963, he sold the team for the meager sum of $1 million.
Fortunately for future Jets fans everywhere, the team’s new ownership coalition was determined to keep the Titans afloat. The team gained a new name (Jets), a new head coach (Weeb Ewbank), and a new stadium (Shea Stadium). Factor in the addition of a Hall of Fame quarterback (Joe Namath) a couple years later and the Jets’ revival was complete.
Only the oldest fans or most devout historians remember the Jets’ origins, but the day the Titans became Jets will always be one of the most significant moments in franchise history.
Next: 4. Jets Win 'Can't Wait' Game
4. Jets upset Patriots in 2010 AFC Divisional Playoffs
Many Jets fans are too young to have enjoyed their team’s historic Super Bowl run in 1968. The youngest Jets fans, myself included, don’t even remember the Jets’ incredible 1998 season. If you ask a Jets fan from my generation what their greatest memory of the team is, there’s only one acceptable response that can be offered.
It was the “Can’t Wait” game, more specifically known as the 2010 AFC Divisional game between the Jets and Patriots.
The 2010 Jets, guided by head coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Mark Sanchez, started the season with a 9-2 record. The Patriots crashed the Jets’ early season party, treating them to a horrific 45-3 massacre on December 6th.
The Jets rallied to finish the season at 11-5 and make the playoffs, where they had to face the Patriots in Foxborough. Against all odds, the team pulled off a 28-21 upset. In a post-game interview, Jets linebacker Bart Scott loudly proclaimed that he couldn’t wait to face the Steelers in the AFC Championship.
Even though they lost to Pittsburgh, the Jets’ exciting playoff win over the Patriots and the battle cries of their middle linebacker provided a transcendent moment that Jets fans will cherish forever.
Next: 3. Jet Takes Off on Biggest Stage
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
3. George Sauer becomes Super Bowl III hero
Even during the Jets’ greatest season in franchise history, the team faced plenty of obstacles along the way.
The 1968 Jets boasted a well balanced offense, powered by quarterback Joe Namath, running back Matt Snell and wide receiver Don Maynard. Maynard, generally regarded as the greatest wide receiver in team history, was particularly proficient. He hauled in 57 catches for 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns during the 1968 season.
Unfortunately for the Jets, Maynard was unable to record a single catch in the Super Bowl. While he was hampered by injuries, another Jets star rose to the challenge.
Fellow wide receiver George Sauer filled in admirably for Maynard. He became Namath’s principal target, hauling in over half of the quarterback’s passing yards (133 out of 206).
The Jets won Super Bowl III 16-7, and Namath became a New York legend. The most adamant Jets fans, however, will never forget about a relatively unknown receiver who stepped up when his team most needed him.
Next: 2. Jets Legend Carries Team to Promised Land
2. Don Maynard has monster performance in AFL Championship
Most Jets fans remember their team’s victory in Super Bowl III. Far fewer fans, however, recall the key games along the way that made the Jets’ appearance in the Super Bowl possible.
Take the 1968 AFL Championship game for instance. The Jets were locked in a close battle against an immensely talented Raiders team (12-2). Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica led a potent passing attack, throwing for over 400 yards and a touchdown against the Jets.
In the end, the Jets persevered in the AFL Championship by eking out a 27-23 victory. Jets quarterback Joe Namath, as usual, provided a clutch performance (266 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception). But the Jets unsung hero in the 1968 AFL Championship was future Hall of Fame wide receiver Don Maynard. Maynard was a consistent deep threat throughout the game, amassing 118 receiving yards and two touchdowns on only six receptions.
For helping to power the Jets through the game before the Big Game, Maynard’s prolific AFL Championship game performance will forever be remembered as one of the greatest moments in franchise history.
Next: 1. The Guarantee
1. Namath’s Guarantee leads to Jets glory
If there is one thing that was clear throughout the 1960’s, its that football was an NFL game. The upstart AFL, founded in 1960, simply could not compete with the senior league.
This way of thinking was seemingly confirmed by the first two Super Bowls. The NFL Packers demolished the AFL’s Chiefs (35-10) and Raiders (33-14). Leading up to Super Bowl III, a match-up that featured the AFL’s Jets against a heavily favored Colts team, football fans expected more of the same.
A young upstart quarterback out of Alabama did not get that memo. Prior to the Jets appearance in the Super Bowl, quarterback Joe Namath publicly guaranteed victory.
Unlike a Rex Ryan prediction, Namath was able to live up to his bravado. He provided a steady hand (17/28 for 206 yards) on way to a 16-7 Jets victory.
For one season, the Jets weren’t the “same old Jets” or the “butt fumble Jets.” Thanks to Namath and his promise, they were champions.
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*Note: Many of the author’s colleagues at The Jet Press shared memories for this article. The author would like to sincerely thank them for their contributions. Follow them on Twitter!