The end of the decade is coming, so everybody's doing their end-of-decade lists. Time to jump into the fray with my list of the top 10 Jets moments of the past 10 years.
10. New York Jets trade for Brett Favre
Nobody knew how the end would turn out, but bringing one of the best quarterbacks in the history of football, especially one known for his arm strength, was a welcome change after years of dinking and dunking with Chad Pennington. The move made the Jets the story of the NFL, and when Tom Brady got hurt, it looked like the Jets finally had the best quarterback in the division.
9. Jets annihilate Titans to move to 8-3 in 2008.
Sure, the end was bitter. But how great did you feel beating New England and previously unbeaten Tennessee in back-to-back weeks? It felt like the Jets were the best team in the AFC, right? They could throw the ball, they could run the ball, and they played stout defense, especially against the run. What could possibly go wrong?
8. Jets' 3-0 start in 2009
Another head coach off to a great start, this one stressing an aggressive defense and a smash mouth offense. He beats the Patriots in Giants Stadium for the only time this decade as well as two feared teams in Houston and Tennessee, and it looks like the Jets are on their way back, with a flashy new quarterback and head coach to lead the way. Several heartbreaks and lucky breaks later, and it looks like the Jets are on their way back to the playoffs.
7. "You play to win the game!"
Herman Edwards's famous speech will forever live in history as one of the most memorable rants in sports history. However, what makes this a great moment is how the Jets responded. Herm's speech gave the Jets something to laugh about after an ugly home loss to the Browns dropped the Jets to 2-5. But whether provoked by the speech or other reasons, the Jets walloped the previously 6-1 Chargers on the road 44-13, sending San Diego into a tailspin where they finished 8-8. What happened to the Jets? Read down a little more to find out.
6. Mangenius takes down Patriots in New England.
The Jets-Patriots rivalry was intensified when Patriots' defensive coordinator Eric Mangini went to New York to coach the rival Jets despite Bill Bellichick's wishes. Nobody gave the Jets much of a chance to do anything in Mangini's first year. A 4-3 start gave fans some hope, but a disappointing loss to Cleveland, memorable because of Chris Baker's last second near-touchdown pass where he was forced out of bounds, but the referees called him incomplete. Nevertheless, after a bye week, the Jets went up to New England on a muddy field and beat the hated Patriots, knocking around Tom Brady in the process. Bellichick's post-game handshake, or lack thereof, said it all.
5. Monday Night Miracle and the Cardiac 2000 Jets.
It was hard to gauge the 2000 Jets. In 1999 they were AFC favorites until Vinny Testaverde went down. Testaverde was back, but Bill Parcells was gone and Al Groh was in. Nevertheless, the Jets jumped out to a great start featuring two great Jets moments. First, in week four the Jets got revenge against Keyshawn Johnson. Johnson had derogatively called Wayne Chrebet "flashlight" heading into the game, but it was Chrebet having the last laugh, catching a late touchdown pass on a halfback option pass from Curtis Martin to win it. Four weeks later, the 5-1 Jets took on the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, falling behind 30-7 heading into the 4th quarter. Yet, the Jets came all the way back in the 4th quarter, with Laveranues Coles and Jermaine Wiggins catching their first career touchdown passes. Chrebet tied it, but then Leslie Shepherd broke free for a 46-yard touchdown to give Miami the 37-30 lead. Then offensive tackle Jumbo Elliot became the unlikeliest hero, catching a touchdown to send the game into overtime, where the Jets won 40-37. Clearly feeling the momentum from that game, the Jets lost their next three games and then their last three games to fall out of the playoffs at 9-7.
4. John Hall's 52-yard field goal sends Jets into 2001 playoffs.
As bad as the Oakland Raiders have been for the past several years, it's hard to think that Jets vs Raiders was one of the bigger non-divisional rivalries in the NFL at the beginning of the decade. The two teams always seemed to match up in Oakland, especially come playoff time. This wasn't a playoff game, but it was for the Jets, and after a hard-fought game, Testaverde and the Jets set up John Hall for a 52-yard field goal to send the Jets into the playoffs. He made it, and Herman Edwards was able to find his way into the playoffs in year one.
3. Beating San Diego on the road in 2004 in the first round of the playoffs.
The 2004 Jets jumped out to a 5-0 start only to barely make the playoffs. Chad Pennington's arm was hanging on by a thread, but in the first round of the playoffs, Pennington played well, including silencing doubters of his arm strength temporarily with a deep touchdown pass to Santana Moss. Of course, the Jets needed to make their fans needlessly sweat late. On a 4th down play, when it looked like the Jets had finally won, Eric Barton was called for roughing the passer with a forearm shiver to Drew Brees's head. The Chargers scored to send the game into overtime, but Doug Brien kicked a game winner in overtime to send the Jets to Pittsburgh. That was Brien's last good moment as a Jet.
2. Beating Favre and the Packers week 17 of 2002.
This set off by far the most exciting three week period in recent Jets' history. Similar to this year, the Jets blew an NFC game against the Bears in week 15. They came back to beat the Patriots in Foxboro in week 16, setting up an epic final week of the season. New York needed either New England to beat Miami or Atlanta to beat Cleveland at 1:00 for the Jets' game at 4:15 against Green Bay to matter. When the Browns won, it was looking bleak for the Jets because Miami led 24-13 with just five minutes to go. Then the Dolphins simply choked. The defense gave a pass interference penalty to set up a Tom Brady touchdown. Then the Dolphins went three-and-out, taking little time off the clock as coach Dave Wannstedt opted to throw the ball. Adam Vinatieri sent the game into overtime and then won it in the extra session. Jets fans in the stadium were crowded around those with radios who were relaying what was going on in the Dolphins-Patriots game, and when New England won, the stadium erupted. The players seemed confused at the crowd's reaction since nothing was going on at the field, but they got the message. The game, which was 0-0 at the time, ended up in a 42-17 rout.
1. Beating Peyton Manning and the Colts 41-0 at home in 2002.
The #2 moment set up the only Jets' home playoff game this decade, and boy, did they make it count. The field was still grass at that point, and Manning's Colts, who still had the reputation of being soft, could not handle it. The Jets manhandled the Colts 41-0. Manning went 14-31 for 137 yards, throwing two interceptions in the process. This game was vintage Pennington, while he was still healthy and before the Raider meltdown the following week, as he threw for three touchdowns on 19-25 passing for 222 yards.
Honorable mention: Jets trade for Mark Sanchez. Spygate. Beating Oakland in 2006 to get into the playoffs. 5-0 start in 2004.