After a rough pair of losses, positive New York Jets fans can look back to a bitter 2009 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
After starting the season with three straight wins, the New York Jets lost six of their next seven games. By the time the Atlanta Falcons came to Giants Stadium on Dec. 20, 2009, they had corrected their path, winning three straight games to put them right in the middle of the AFC playoff race at 7-6.
The season up to that point had seen the Jets blow fourth-quarter leads in two of their six losses. In two other home games earlier that season, the Jets lost to the Bills in OT when rookie Mark Sanchez threw five INT and to the Dolphins where Ted Ginn returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Needless to say, when the Atlanta Falcons came to town in Week 15, New York Jets fans were tired of seeing the losses mount up at home. After winning their first two home games of the season, the Jets had lost three of their next four games by a combined 10 points.
Leading 7-3 for most of the game, their defense dominated Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense.
The Jets held the Falcons to just 185 total yards for the first 55:33 seconds. However, Ryan was able to move the Falcons to the Jets seven-yard line when the two-minute warning hit, setting up a first and goal.
The New York Jets defense in 2009 finished first in the NFL in total defense, allowing the fewest amount of yards in the league. Leading by four points, the Jets defense needed to keep the Falcons out of the end zone to improve their record to 8-6.
They held Atlanta to just one yard on their first three downs, setting up a fourth-and-goal at the six. Ryan then found Tony Gonzalez at the front of the end zone for the go-ahead score, causing Jets fans in the upper deck to toss snow and boo loudly.
In fact, there were 29 fans ejected and one arrested throughout the game for throwing snow.
The loss had seemingly ended the New York Jets playoff hopes, something that even head coach Rex Ryan admitted in the postgame press conference, via Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post.
“This is tough, because we’re obviously out of the playoffs,’’ Rex Ryan said. “We thought we had a great chance to make it to the playoffs. This is hugely disappointing.’’
However, the Jets were not yet done. A loss by the Dolphins to the Titans in overtime kept New York’s slim playoff hopes alive.
Despite that hope, Gang Green would have a very rough road to get there, needing to beat the undefeated Colts in Indianapolis the next week and the eventual AFC North Champion Bengals at home in Week 17.
Thanks to the Colts taking out Peyton Manning early in the second half, the Jets were able to rally and hand the Colts their first loss of the season. When they humiliated the Bengals 37-0 in the final game played at the Meadowlands on Sunday Night Football, the New York Jets had recovered from seemingly impossible odds to reach the 2009 postseason.
From there, the Jets defeated the Bengals again the next week in Cincinnati and Chargers in San Diego to advance to the AFC Championship Game and a rematch with the Colts.
Unfortunately for the Jets, their postseason magic ran out, as they were unable to hold a 17-6 first-half lead and fell to the Colts 30-17.
For fans looking for a silver lining for the 2017 season after suffering awful consecutive losses to the Patriots and Dolphins, looking back at the 2009 New York Jets and the desperation their fans felt after losing that home game to the Falcons just might provide that.