Joe Namath, a little Bill Parcells and even the Sanchize, Mark Sanchez, himself, help construct the greatest New York Jets moments of all-time.
It took a while for Joe Namath to cool down after leading the New York Jets to the most unforeseen Super Bowl victory in NFL history. The regular observer with any skin in the game imagined a genuine giddiness coming from No. 12. Knocking off the big bad Baltimore Colts while shoving it in the faces of 99 percent of football people should produce something that can’t fall short of pure ecstasy.
Instead of the ultimate celebration, Namath greeted his boyhood hero, Johnny Unitas, only to glide off the field with the No. 1 sign wagging in the air only to remain mighty quiet as his locker. He wasn’t yet ready to forgive the media for burying the 18-point underdog Jets leading up to the game that impacted the modern NFL more than any single game to this very day.
Eventually, he spoke. Very quickly thereafter, the media drooled. Understanding the magnitude for what Namath and the Jets had accomplished wasn’t difficult to realize, and half a century later, Super Bowl 3 remains the single-most impactful game in NFL history.
Of course, everybody knows the Jets greatest moment in franchise history. It’s silly to even pretend anything else comes close. But what about the others? ESNY counts down the 10 greatest moments in New York Jets history.
10. The Meadowlands Roar: Sept. 20, 2009
The first home game of the Rex Ryan era brought a palpable feel undescribable for every Jets fan in the building.
While taking on the evil New England Patriots, the last home opener at Giants Stadium, Jets fans tortured Tom Brady all day. It was so loud that No. 12 couldn’t even operate pre-snap as he normally does.
The 16-9 final score, featuring rookie Mark Sanchez who connected on a touchdown to tight end Dustin Keller, followed through on Rex’s famous voice mail to fans. It also provided the first glimpse of Darrelle Revis‘s mind-boggling 2009 dominance as he shut down the great Randy Moss.
9. The Underdog Surprise: Jan. 17, 2010
With a 7-7 record after 14 games, a miracle was necessary for Rex Ryan’s first Jets squad to sneak into the tournament.
It happened. They trounced the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 at home and then beat them soundly on the road in the Wild Card Round. It was all a prequel to the divisional matchup against the 13-3 San Diego Chargers.
Shonn Green rushed for 123 yards on 23 carries to lead New York to a shocking 17-14 road playoff victory. A great defensive effort against Philip Rivers and the mighty Bolts mixed with Nate Kaeding‘s horrible day catapulted the Jets to the AFC title game.
8. Divisional Authority: Dec. 29, 2002
The image of Wayne Chrebet catching a short hook in the red zone only to turn it the other way for a score is what most fans remember when they think of the Jets dominating Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in Week 17 of the 2002 season.
Starting 1-4, a Herm Edwards “You play to win the game” rant meshed with young Chad Pennington‘s insertion paced the Jets to the improbable 9-7 divisional title that lasted until the field of eight in Oakland.
The 42-17 final score is actually misleading. The Jets hammered Packers even further in the Giants Stadium turf where Jimmy Hoffa may or may not remain.
7. The Great Playoff Return: Jan. 10, 1999
For the first time ever, the Jets had captured the AFC East crown in 1998 behind Bill Parcells. For the first time since 1986, they had won a playoff game.
The great playoff return of 1998 was more of a celebration than a dramatic football moment. The 12-4 Jets were expected to win and they did it soundly against Mark Brunell and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
6. The Hostile Breakthrough: Jan. 15, 1983
It can be argued the 1998 divisional win should be ranked over the 1982 version, but doing it on the road in Los Angeles makes the difference. The Jets weren’t supposed to win.
It’s another 17-14 playoff victory in California, this time in L.A. Richard Todd threw for 277 yards and Wesley Walker went for 169 and a score on seven grabs. Facing a 14-10 deficit in the fourth quarter (after leading 10-0 at halftime), a Scott Dierking 1-yard touchdown capped off the game-winning drive.
Peyton Manning who? That’s what the NFL world was asking itself after the Jets dismantled the Indianapolis Colts in primetime.
After the Green Bay smackdown, Herm’s squad remained in New Jersey to welcome in the wild-card Colts.
It was 24-0 at halftime, then 34-0 after three quarters, and eventually 41-0 as the final.
4. The Championship: Dec. 29, 1968
The tall tale of Joe Namath‘s nightlife took a starring role in the AFC Championship Game of 1968. Fact or fiction (his night-before-AFL Championship Game antics), nothing would stop the young arm on Broadway on this day.
Namath’s 266 yards and three touchdowns were capped off by a 6-yard Don Maynard score late in the fourth quarter to give New York a 27-23 lead and eventual championship.
3. Monday Night Miracle: Oct. 23, 2000
Giants Stadium was half empty by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. The Miami Dolphins owned a commanding 30-7 lead with no hope in sight for the home team. Remember, this was the season following the Bill Belichick madness.
One touchdown happened. Then two. Then it was on. Play after play, Vinny Testaverde and the Jets offense eventually overcame a 23-point deficit and then a seven-point deficit after the Dolphins answered late in the fourth.
From Wayne Chrebet‘s 104 yards and two dramatic scores to Jumbo Elliott‘s six-point bobble, the greatest comeback in Monday Night Football history beats playoff wins on this list due to the opponent, the hated Dolphins.
2. Foxborough Revenge: Jan. 16, 2011
If the 2009 Jets were lucky, the 2010 version was nasty. With a record of 9-2 entering Week 13, Rex Ryan’s football club was turned back by Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots with ease. The 45-3 final score suggested the Jets weren’t yet ready for primetime.
Despite finishing 11-5, the Jets had to once again play the tournament on the road. After a big-time win in Indianapolis, Foxborough was once again on the schedule.
Play after play, moment after moment, it was obvious that Darrelle Revis‘s insane skills on the backend allowed Ryan to call a blend of hybrid defense that fooled Tom Brady. Just enough clutchness was squeezed out of Mark Sanchez and the Jets had yet again shocked the NFL in January.
The revenge was complete.
1. The Joe Namath Guarantee: Jan. 12, 1969
If anybody suggests Super Bowl 3 isn’t the New York Jets greatest moment of all-time, a full doctor evaluation must be ordered up. Not only is it the organization’s only title, but it’s the game that changed NFL history forever.
Until Super Bowl 3, the AFC was considered a flat-out joke. Nobody could see the future and see how the football league wars ahead would play out. New York’s victory, followed up by the Kansas City Chiefs dominance the next season, allowed for two separate leagues to create an absolute powerhouse, the modern NFL as we know it today.
Besides, think about it … the man called his shot and did so with a team that was 18-point underdogs.
It’s the stuff legends are made of.