All-Time Lists

10 most heartbreaking losses suffered in NY Jets history

NY Jets, Mark Gastineau
NY Jets, Mark Gastineau / George Gojkovich/GettyImages
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The trade-off to the NY Jets not playing meaningful games for the better part of the last decade is that their fan base hasn't had to endure many heartbreaking losses.

The status and positioning of the Jets franchise have gotten so bad the last several years that, to some, the heartbreak has only come in victories that have ruined draft positioning.

Things may work out for the best in the long run, but somehow, the inept two-win Jets in 2020 found a way to beat two playoff teams in the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns to spoil their chances of securing the first overall pick.

In 2021, the Jets' closely-contested wins over the Texans and Jaguars ensured that the franchise wouldn't have the first pick again. It's a sad state of affairs when Jets fans are relegated to lamenting their team's victories during a season.

As the ancient saying goes, it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Most Jets fans would gladly prefer being in the hunt and falling short than the apathy the fan base has experienced during multiple lost seasons.

The possibility may seem foreign to recent generation Jets fans, but there was a time when the franchise played meaningful games every year and broke hearts in epic fashion more times than anyone can count.

Some of the current Jets' fan base experienced those moments in the not-so-distant future. But long-time Jets fans still have battle scars in their soul from decades of memories, watching the team get ever so close to the sun, only to see their dreams melt away as they crashed and drowned into the sea of despair.

All Jets fans wear their fandom of the franchise as a badge of honor. To many, the ridicule from others only strengthens their resolve and loyalty for the green and white, and now sometimes black.

While some Jets fans would love to erase the franchise's toughest losses over the last few decades from their memory banks, the experience of reliving those moments strangely brings back memories of happiness during what were much better times for the franchise.

Rapper 50 Cent once said in his hit track Many Men nearly two decades ago, "Sunny days wouldn't be so special if it weren't for rain. Joy wouldn't feel so good if it wasn't for pain."

A day may come when Jets fans experience the ultimate joy of winning it all, and by doing so, it will make people appreciate the pain of losses in years gone by.

Many heartbreaking Jets losses in team history didn't make this final list, and narrowing it down was particularly challenging. The list here also doesn't include disheartening moments in the franchise's history, like Bill Belichick resigning as "HC of the NYJ" or the team's many draft blunders over the years like passing on Warren Sapp or Dan Marino.

This list is all about in-game heartbreaking losses on the field.

There have been so many heartbreaking losses for the NY Jets since the 1969 season that this overall list can be in the dozens. Plus, there's also a clear distinction between worst and heartbreaking losses.

The 1993 Jets getting blown out by the Oilers 24-0 in the season finale in a game where Gang Green failed to punch their ticket to the playoffs, while Buddy Ryan punched Kevin Gilbride, doesn't qualify. The 1993 season for the Jets did produce several gut-wrenching losses, however, the season-ending debacle in Houston doesn't count.

Like any list, there are different degrees of subjectivity involved. Most of this comes from a personal touch.

For example, a heartbreaking loss that didn't make the top-10 for me is a Jets Monday Night Football loss to the Bears in 1991, where New York squandered a 13-3 lead in the fourth quarter in dubious fashion.

Holding a seven-point lead with less than two minutes to go in the game, Blair Thomas fumbled away the football on his own end. Chicago went on to tie the game and force overtime.

The Jets would drive for a potential game-winning score in overtime, but more doom struck as Dan Dierdoff infamously rang out the words on ABC, 'he better make this one." Seconds later, Pat Leahy would shank the 28-yard field goal attempt.

The Bears would drive down the field to win 19-13 in overtime. It was a "you had to be there" moment. Luckily for the Jets, the team recovered and had a happy ending in '91, when they beat the Dolphins to make the playoffs and simultaneously knock out Miami.

Now that you have been teased with a sample of some torment from the ghosts of Jets past, proceed with caution. Let's take a trip down memory lane and look at the top-10 heartbreaking losses in New York Jets' history.

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