10 most heartbreaking losses suffered in NY Jets history

NY Jets, Mark Gastineau
NY Jets, Mark Gastineau / George Gojkovich/GettyImages
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NY Jets
NY Jets, Jermaine Lewis / Michael J. Minardi/GettyImages

8. NY Jets blow playoff spot and two-score lead against eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens

Christmas Eve hasn't always been very kind to the Jets. See Victor Cruz's 99-yard touchdown against Gang Green in 2011, which helped effectively end the Jets' run towards a potential third AFC Championship Game. 

Back on December 24th, 2000, the Jets were 9-6 heading into Baltimore's nest to face the 11-4 Ravens. New York needed a victory to get into the playoffs. Baltimore, in 2000, sported one of the greatest single-season defenses of all time and would go on to eventually win the Super Bowl.

Despite the Jets' success in the 2000 season, the odds were heavily against them beating the Ravens on the road. But 2000 was unlike any Jets season before or since.

The NY Jets had the type of season in 2000 that defied convention and logic. It was the year after Bill Parcells stepped down as head coach and headed upstairs to run the team while Bill Belichick ran away.

Al Groh was left holding the bag, but it was a pretty good team he inherited. Vinny Testaverde was back from his Achilles injury in 1999. Back in action after helping guide New York to 12 wins en route to an AFC Championship.

The Jets had an unprecedented four first-round picks, and all of them ended up being key contributors for the franchise — specifically, John Abraham and Shaun Ellis, who provided immediate dividends to the defense.

There was a lot of magic to the Jets in 2000. Especially early on, they rallied late in Lambeau Field to beat the Packers. The Jets did the same thing to beat Bill Belichick and his new Pats team 20-19 on Monday Night Football.

New York then traveled to Tampa and engineered an improbable comeback to beat the Bucs and their former ally Keyshawn Johnson in the closing seconds, when Curtis Martin connected with Wayne Chrebet on a game-winning touchdown pass.

All great wins, but nothing would compare to the Monday Night Miracle when the Jets rallied from 30-7 down to beat the Dolphins 40-37 in overtime. 

So even though the odds were stacked against the Jets with a playoff berth on the line in Baltimore, and even though New York had faltered heavily down the stretch, losing two straight before playing the Ravens, there was still a feeling that the impossible could become possible.

And when the Jets stormed out to a 14-0 lead early on, thanks to two Testaverde touchdown passes, it seemed like the Jets were ready to defy the odds yet again.

But in a game where New York scored 20 points against a historic defense that routinely shut out opposing offenses all year long and outgained Baltimore 524 to 142, the Jets still found a way to lose.

The Jets yielded a safety, gave up two punt returns for touchdowns by Jermaine Lewis, and turned the ball over six times. One of those turnovers resulted in a demoralizing interception that turned the game on its head.

With the Jets up 14-12, and Dan Henning's brilliant five wide receiver look against the Ravens working to perfection, Vinny Testaverde, who threw for 481 yards on the day, would toss a crucial interception that Chris McAlister returned 98 yards for the score.

The Jets relinquished the lead on that play and would get back to within three later on, but the back-breaking returns by Lewis doomed the 2000 Jets for good.

The Ravens' 34-20 unorthodox come-from-behind victory exemplified how unique and special their 2000 team was. They found ways to win games by any means necessary.

For parts of the 2000 season, the Jets did the same. But when it counted most, they found a way to lose their most important game of the year in the most puzzling fashion.