One New York Jets victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots changes, quite literally, everything about this 2019 NFL season.
Mariano Rivera was on the mound, seemingly stuck in his familiar October cruise control. Protecting a slim 4-3 lead, the result was never in doubt. All that remained revolved around how the New York Yankees would sweep away those pathetic, gutless, never get it done when it counts Boston Red Sox. (And you better believe their own fans concurred.)
Then, suddenly, all hell broke loose. The world tun on its head.
Kevin Millar walked, Dave Roberts swiped second and Bill Mueller knocked the now-Los Angeles Dodgers manager home. The magical moment Boston had waited 86 years for unfolded before its very eyes. The faithful didn’t know it at the time, but it was then, when it all started.
Every organization stuck in the muck needs that one moment that changes everything. The New York Jets are now in position to not only make a raucous statement, but create a possible organization-changing moment of their own.
A win over the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football could, quite literally, change everything.
Sam Darnold, who’ll never provide bulletin-board material (he’s just too smart), spoke truth during the workweek.
“Their defense is good. They have been all year,” Darnold said. “But just like any other team, they’re not unbeatable. So, we just go out there, find the weakness in the defense and keep working it. That’s what we’re going to do on Monday night.”
Sam Darnold on the New England Patriots: “They’re not unbeatable.”
Here he is discussing some of the stuff they do defensively. TakeFlight pic.twitter.com/TGtvEj0yP9
— RobbySabo (@RobbySabo) October 17, 2019
The perceived mighty Patriots are 6-0, puffed up as usual. But these aren’t your father’s Spygate Pats.
Steamrolling the likes of the Miami Dolphins, Luke Falk-led Jets, Washington Redskins and New York Giants doesn’t exactly scream world-beaters. A dominant performance in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and tidy victory against a tough Buffalo Bills team highlight the defending champs’ resume.
In contrast, the 1-4 Jets aren’t your Rich Kotite-led losers. Think Herm Edwards, “You play to win the game” Jets, instead. Owning a 13-point lead over the Bills late in Week 1 and knocking off the 4-3 Dallas Cowboys reveal a tremendous story as compared to the three losses without No. 14.
Darnold, who was clearly feeling it in his 338-yard, two-touchdown performance against Dallas, carried that momentum publicly. The California kid believes his offense can be “unstoppable” once Chris Herndon and all of his complementary pieces return.
Adam Gase is enjoying the attitude.
“I love his confidence,” Gase said. “He’s feeling confident right now. He’s digesting everything. I think the time he was away and the amount of time he spent studying film and studying the offense and going back through everything and watching what’s going on. You saw a confident guy last week. You saw a guy that walked out there and he did not look like he had been gone. He was calm, the throws he was making, there were some throws in that game that were extremely impressive. I haven’t seen many guys make some of those throws.”
Confidence builds from tremendous performances. Tremendous performances follow culture-changing moments.
Three years prior to Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, a little-known quarterback who split time with Drew Henson at Michigan took the field up north. A devastating Mo Lewis shot sent Drew Bledsoe to a scary, life-changing moment.
While the fans didn’t know it then, No. 57 clobbering No. 11 was the first step to the NFL’s greatest dynasty (save for arguments with the 1960s Green Bay Packers and 1940s/1950s Cleveland Browns). The organization that nearly left New England in the early 90s and was saved by Bill Parcells needed a Jet to do damage.
Depressingly, Jets fans have been down this road before. January 2011, Braylon Edwards‘s backflips cemented a stunning road playoff victory. In 1998, a blocked punt near the Denver goal line allowed the green team to extend to a two-possession lead. In 1983, a tampered field shutout a fast Jets offense and prevented the organization from its first Super Bowl in 14 years.
Of course, it’s understood one win, one moment can never be cemented as that culture-changing moment in real-time. But it’s also understood that first moment is required in order to achieve greatness. It’s the first step.
In 2011, Mark Sanchez wasn’t the real deal. Eight years later, Sam Darnold might be. The only way we’ll know for sure is if that first step is taken, if the kid with the golden arm and brain can eat into Tom Brady’s 28-7 career regular-season record against his team.
The once down-and-out, left-for-dead Jets are back. Make no mistake about that fact. To enjoy an organizational-changing moment, demons must be exorcised on Monday night. Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots stand in the way.
One win doesn’t guarantee anything. On the other hand, one win, if given the right circumstances, sure does provide the possibility of it changing everything, as history suggests.
It always starts with the first one, that initial singular moment. The New York Jets hope Monday night is that epic triumph.