The New York Jets have had some pretty impressive opening week performances over the past 20 years? But which one is the most memorable moment?
This Sunday, the New York Jets will kick off their 59th season as a franchise when they face-off with their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills.
The anticipation will finally come to a head this Sunday after a long and busy offseason of big-time player acquisitions, a change at head coach and a sudden change at general manager.
Fans are eager to see the new-look Jets take the field at MetLife Stadium on Sunday in hopes that this is the year the Jets finally make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
To celebrate the start of a new Jets season, here is a top-five list of the most memorable Week 1 games of the past 20 years of Jets history.
Next: Jets vs. Bills (2002)
5. New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills — 2002
It’s only right to start the list off with a Jets/Bills matchup from the 2002 season. Under second-year head coach Herm Edwards, the Jets’ mindset going into the 2002 season was playoffs or bust.
This came following the 2001 season in which the team finished 10-6 with an early exit in the playoffs losing to the Oakland Raiders in the Wild Card round. On the other side was now-Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams who at the time was the head coach of the Bills.
The Jets trailed early on in this game but got the ball rolling in the second quarter after kick returner Chad Morton returned a kickoff for 98 yards. After Morton’s touchdown return, the flood gates opened for the Jets as they scored on their next three drives.
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Going into halftime with the scored tied up at 17 apiece, the Jets wanted to finish the Bills in the second half but Drew Bledsoe and the Bills offense would not back down as Bledsoe threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Eric Moulds with 26 seconds remaining in regulation.
Going into overtime with the game tied up at 31, Jets kick returner Chad Morton took his second kickoff to the house as he returned the kick for 96 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
What happened next?
The Jets would end up winning the AFC East and would enter the playoffs as a fourth seed. They went on to beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in the Wild Card round by a score of 41-0 and then lost to the Raiders a week later.
This was also the last time the Jets won an AFC East title.
Next: 4. Jets vs. Bills (2012)
4. New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills — 2012
Once again, another Jets/Bills matchup makes the countdown, this one coming 10 years later. After a devastating 2011 season, the Jets, led by fourth-year quarterback Mark Sanchez and head coach Rex Ryan, were trying to recapture the magic they had back in 2009 and 2010.
Most people remember the 2012 Jets for the infamous Mark Sanchez butt fumble on Thanksgiving Day, but the Jets actually got off to a good start in 2012.
In this Week 1 matchup, the Jets got off to a quick start as Sanchez hit Jeremy Kerley on a 12-yard touchdown pass in just the second Jets drive of the game.
On Sanchez’s next drive he would throw another touchdown pass to former second-round pick Stephen Hill and would connect with Hill again for another touchdown pass later in the second half.
Statistically, this was one of Sanchez’s best games in his five-year span with the Jets. Sanchez would end the day with three touchdown passes, one interception, and 266 yards passing.
What happened next?
This is a season that Jets fans want to forget even with the knowledge that the team started out with a 48- 28 Week 1 victory over their division rivals. The Jets ended up going 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second straight year.
After the 2012 season, the Jets fired seven-year general manager Mike Tannenbaum and hired John Idzik. They would trade All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a first-round draft pick.
Next: 3. Jets @ Packers (2000)
3. New York Jets @ Green Bay Packers — 2000
Following the 1999 season, Bill Parcells stepped down as head coach of the Jets and decided to name defensive coordinator Bill Belichick the new head coach.
A day after being named head coach, Belichick decided that coaching the Jets was not the right fit and decided to step down from his position after just one day and ended up becoming the new head coach for the New England Patriots.
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The Jets would end up hiring their linebackers’ coach, Al Groh, as head coach. Going into the 2000 season, the Jets were at full strength as they got back quarterback Vinny Testaverde after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury the year before.
Week 1 would be a big test for new head coach Al Groh as the Jets would have to go to Lambeau Field and play Brett Favre and the heavily favorite Green Bay Packers.
This game was low scoring for the most part but Pro-Bowl running back Curtis Martin had a day with 30 carries for 110 yards and a rushing touchdown Martin also had a receiving touchdown late in the game to propel the Jets to their first win of the season.
What happened next?
The Jets would end up 9-7 that season and missed the playoffs for a second consecutive year. Head coach Al Groh would leave the Jets to take the head coaching job at his alma mater, the University of Virginia, and he would be replaced by former Eagles defensive back Herm Edwards.
Next: 2. Jets vs. Cowboys (2011)
2. New York Jets vs. Dallas Cowboys — 2011
In Week 1 of the 2011 season, the Jets kicked the season off against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. It was an emotional night as it was 10 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
In remembrance of the people who risked there lives on that day, the Jets honored members of the New York City Fire and Police Department all throughout the game.
The Jets got to a slow start as Tony Romo and the Cowboys scored on their first drive. Right before halftime, Mark Sanchez threw a touchdown pass to Dustin Keller as the Jets went into the half down by three.
Early on in the second half, Romo and the Cowboys scored twice on there next three drives. Down 24-10 in the fourth quarter, it
seemed like Dallas was going to run away with the victory.
However, the Jets would not back down as Sanchez would lead the Jets’ offense to an 84-yard drive which resulted in a Plaxico Burress touchdown.
The Jets made it a one-score game and all they needed was to stop this red-hot Cowboys offense. The drive would result in a three-and-out as the punt team ran on to the field.
And with six minutes remaining in the game, Jets cornerback Isaiah Trufant blocked the punt and returned it for a touchdown, tying the game up at 24.
Then finally with the game on the line and a little under a minute left, Romo threw an interception into the hands of Darrelle Revis. That turnover would set up a Nick Folk 50-yard field goal to win the game in regulation.
What happened next?
The Jets would end the season with a final record of 8-8, losing their last three games. They would, unfortunately, be eliminated from playoff contention and miss the postseason.
Next: 1. Jets @ Lions (2018)
1. New York Jets @ Detroit Lions — 2018
Number one on this list goes to last year’s matchup against the Detriot Lions. This game is still fresh in every Jets fan’s mind because not only did the team rout the Lions on Monday night by a final score of 48-17, but it was also the debut of third overall pick Sam Darnold.
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Going into this game, Darnold was the youngest quarterback to start an NFL game at the age of 21. In his first-ever NFL throw, Darnold threw a pick-six to Lions defensive back Quandre Diggs.
Darnold did not let that break his confidence, however, as he led the Jets down the field on his third drive for a touchdown. The USC product ended the night completing 16 of his 21 passes and threw for two touchdowns.
What happened next?
Darnold progressed as the year went on but turned 2018 into a disaster of a season as the Jets finished the season 4-12 and missed the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year.
Head coach Todd Bowles was fired shortly after their Week 17 loss to New England and was later replaced by former Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase.