Good things happen when you stay at home. Just ask the New York Jets, who are set to open their second decade at MetLife Stadium this fall.
Our (temporary) new reality has denied us the glory and love of sports. The concept has, rightfully, taken a backseat as we look out for each other and work towards a new common good of overcoming the grim isolation that the coronavirus has brought upon us.
Of course, there is a light at the end of our proverbial tunnel. We, as a nation, have overcome disasters of epic proportions before. With teamwork and unity, there’s little doubt we can do it again.
The fact of the matter is, it’s best for all of us if we stay at home at this point. The sooner we adhere to the guidelines posted by medical experts (which include staying indoors and social distancing, save for necessities like grocery shopping and attending to loved ones), the sooner we’ll be back to enjoying the sports and events we love, living and dying with our teams.
Good things happen when you stay at home. Just ask the New York Jets, who are about to enter their second decade within the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium. As encouragement, ESM takes a look at the ten best Jets moments to go down at the stadium so far…
9/19/10: Give ’em Kell
Victories over the mighty New England Patriots have been relatively rare in the decade of MetLife. Tom Brady and Company did at least receive a rude welcome as victims of the first Jets victory at the stadium.
The Jets dropped their Monday night Metlife debut to Baltimore, but went on to shock the Patriots to the tune of a 28-14 triumph less than a week later. Tight end Dustin Keller took center stage with a career-best 115 yards in victory. 2008’s first-round selection also caught the last of Mark Sanchez’s three touchdown passes to help put the game away (Braylon Edwards and Jericho Cotchery caught the others). Defensively, Antonio Cromartie and Brodney Pool each victimized Brady for an interception. Jason Taylor put the tastiest cherry on top by ending New England’s final possession with a sack and forced fumble, recovered by Bryan Thomas.
10/11/10: Viking Conquest
The Jets’ kooky Brett Favre summited at an 8-3 ledger in November that had some Jets fans thinking Super Bowl. But a 1-4 finale had the Jets searching elsewhere for a quarterback (leading to the drafting of Mark Sanchez) and Favre destined for his umpteenth retirement. By late August, the Vikings made an offer he couldn’t refuse and he wound up taking them to the NFC title game.
When Favre returned to East Rutherford two seasons later, the Jets thanked the gunslinger for his services by having their defense constantly wrap Favre up in hugs…those under pressure, that is. Favre was sacked four times, but, true to form, managed to keep Minnesota in the game with three touchdown passes. One of those scores was of the 37-yard variety to Randy Moss, partaking in his first game in a Viking uniform since 2004.
MetLife braced for the worst when Minnesota forced a Jets punt immediately after the final two-minute warning and the home team struggling to hold a 22-20 lead. One year after Favre led the league in interceptions with the Jets, he threw one more in New Jersey. This one, however, brought Jets fans to their feet in the form of an interception returned for a touchdown by Dwight Lowery. The first touchdown of Lowery’s career put the game out of reach in the form of a 29-20 final.
11/21/10: Everything’s Bigger Against the Texans
The 2010 New York Jets were an exercise in waiting for the other shoe to drop. Everyone in football thought their 2009-10 trip to the AFC title game was a fluke, but they got rid of those notions with a 9-2 start to the season.
The penultimate win of that slate was a thrilling last-minute win over the Houston Texans, mere days before they demolished the Cincinnati Bengals in a Thanksgiving tilt. New York dealt with a challenge from the pesky Texans, who turned a 23-7 Jets lead into a 27-23 advantage, one they held with 55 seconds to go in the game. The detractors were certain that this would be the end of the Jets, the final blow to yet another magical season. But Sanchez worked some late-game magic, one that sent East Rutherford into hysterics. Things seemed dire with the Jets situated 48 yards away from the end zone with 24 seconds to go, but a 42-yard catch-and-run for Edwards allowed Sanchez to put the finishing touches on the victory.
In almost a reverse angle of his Super Bowl-winning catch for the Steelers, Santonio Holmes caught a six-yard Sanchez toss in the corner of the end zone with 16 seconds remaining to allow the Jets a 30-27 escape.
9/11/11: Showdown at the MetLife Corral
The 2011 NFL season’s first Sunday landed on the most solemn of occasions: the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001’s tragic events. After a day full of patriotic displays and tributes to the lives lost, the proceedings wrapped up at MetLife Stadium…just over 11 miles from where the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers once stood. Moments of remembrance, attended to by former United States President George W. Bush and many first responders, were followed by a highly anticipated tilt between the Jets and the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas led 24-10 at the onset of the fourth quarter, but the Jets soon began an unforgettable rally. Plaxico Burress got things started with a 26-yard touchdown catch from Mark Sanchez. The teams would then exchange fumbles before Isaiah Trufan took a punt blocked by Joe McKnight back for a touchdown. Dallas’ would-be game-winning was stifled by none other than Darelle Revis, who intercepted a Tony Romo pass intended for Dez Bryant and took it into opposing territory. Former Cowboy Nick Folk dealt the final blow to his former mates, booting a 50-yard field in the final minute to secure the 27-24 win.
11/27/11: J-E-T-S Spells Revenge
The Jets’ divisional rivalry with the Buffalo Bills hasn’t gotten drastically ugly in the new century, but an exception was made in their post-Thanksgiving showdown in East Rutherford.
With Burress still on the 2011 edition, Bills receiver Stevie Johnson celebrated a first-half touchdown by pretending to be shot, referencing the receivers nightclub incident in 2008. The dated, classless jab immediately backfired on Johnson when the Bills flubbed a surprise onside kick and immediately let up a 14-yard score to Burress himself.
Burress had actually saved his best for last. With the Bills up 24-21, Burress’ one-handed catch on a third down with 11 to go kept the Jets’ victorious final drive alive. Two plays after the catch, Holmes caught a pass on a Sanchez rollout to give the Jets a 28-24 win.
12/6/15: JetLife Stadium
The saga of the 2015 Jets is a lot like watching Avengers: Infinity War: it was incredibly fun to watch, there are countless moments that make you stand up and cheer…it’s rewatch value, on the other hand, is completely ruined by its harrowing ending. If the Jets’ season-ending, playoff-costing loss to the Buffalo Bills served as Thanos’ infamous snap, their win over MetLife roommates was the closest thing they’ll get to an equivalent of Thor arriving with a new weapon via the Bifrost in Wakanda.
East Rutherford civil wars are routine in the preseason but are staged only once every four years. The 2015 edition featured both the Jets and New York Giants in the thick of their respective playoff races. New Jersey was set to be a blue state after the Giants put up 20 points in the second quarter. That haul seemed to be sustainable, so much so that the first interception of Rontez Miles’ career seemed with eight minutes left in regulation seemed like little reason to celebrate. The fact that the ensuing drive ended with a short Randy Bullock field goal wasn’t exactly inspiring either.
But optimism squeaked through after the Jets forced a punt down 20-13 in the final minutes. With just over a minute to go, Ryan Fitzpatrick channeled his inner Randall Cunningham, earning nine more yards than he needed to on a fateful fourth down with six to go. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick would send the game to overtime with a nine-yard scoring pass to Brandon Marshall.
In the extra session, Bullock booted a 31-yard field to give the Jets the lead. The defense then forced Josh Brown and the Giants into a deep 48-yard attempt, one that sailed wide left and gave the Jets the narrow win.
12/27/15: Boston OT Party
Knowing the terrors that awaited one week later in Buffalo, the penultimate game of the 2015-16 regular season may be the most bittersweet moment any team in NFL history has experienced. But, for one week, the turf of MetLife provided pure pigskin euphoria.
The Christmas season was no holiday for the Jets. They had exceeded expectations with a respectable record, but needed to top the Patriots in their home finale to keep a postseason dream alive. Their 9-5 ledger put them in a three-way tie for the AFC wild cards, but tiebreakers allotted the spots to Kansas City and Pittsburgh. New England had, predictably, wrapped the AFC East title, but was still battling Denver and Cincinnati for the AFC’s top playoff seed.
A pair of Ryan Fitzpatrick scoring hookups with Brandon Marshall built a 17-3 lead for the Jets. Typical Jets-Patriots antics of the new century ensued thereafter. New England narrowed things to one possession when Jamie Collins took a Fitzpatrick fumble back for a touchdown while the Jets only mustered a Bullock field goal to add to their lead. Brady made them pay with a nine-yard touchdown pass to James White that helped tie the score. The Jets nearly won in regulation, but a Fitzpatrick deep ball in the final minute sailed out of the reach of Quincy Enunwa.
New England opted for overtime after a Ryan Quigley punt. It was a rare decision that Bill Belichick would come to regret.
Winners of the overtime coin toss, the Jets wasted no time in the new life afforded to them. Fitzpatrick needed just five plays to go 80 yards for the victory. 48 of that tally came on a successful deep ball to Enunwa, while the final six were on Fitzpatrick’s game-winning toss to Eric Decker for the 26-20 victory. With that throw, Fitzpatrick tied Vinny Testaverde’s 1998 record for most touchdown passes in a single Jets season. Pittsburgh’s ensuing loss to Baltimore put the Jets in control of their playoff destiny moving forward
Nothing more needs to be written about the Jets’ eventual 22-17 loss to the Bills the week after. However, the memorable win at MetLife offered the Jets a quantum of solace weeks later. Thanks to their loss in East Rutherford, the Patriots lost control of the AFC’s top seed. That forced them to go to Mile High for the AFC title game, which the Broncos won in Denver en route to their Super Bowl 50 title.
10/1/17: A Special Victory
To say expectations were low for the 2017 New York Jets would be the understatement of the decade. The prognosticators that be at USA Today in fact pegged them for only a single win in their annual NFL preview.
The Jets immediately eclipsed that total in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars a team that would up reaching the AFC title game. 2017’s New York City Marathon was over a month away, but the Jets got things off to an early start with long scoring runs from Bilal Powell (75 yards) and Elijah McGuire (69 yards) to build a 20-10 lead. Jacksonville, however, reinserted themselves into the game with a 10-point fourth quarter rally. Myles Jack took a fumble back 81 yards for a score, and future Jets Pro Bowler Jason Myers kicked a field goal in the final minute to send things into overtime.
It was an extra session that, frankly, could’ve been avoided. In the dying stages of the first half, Lac Edwards set the Jets up in prime position for a bigger on a 31-yard pass via fake punt to Marcus Williams. However, Chandler Catanzaro missed a 45-yard field goal.
Redemption took a while to manifest, but it eventually came in the final stanzas of overtime. A tie seemed to be in the cards, but a Jeremy Kerley punt return earned 15 extra yards after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from Paul Posluszny. Catanzaro then came on for a 41-yard field goal he successfully converted for the 23-20 win.
10/7/18: Run With the Horses
Two Jets records, one unconventional, were set in their 34-16 win over Denver.
The Jets have several renowned rushers pass through their ledgers. But it’s not Curtis Martin, Freeman McNeil, Thomas Jones, or Emerson Boozer who hold the single-game rushing record. That honor instead goes to Isaiah Crowell, he of only 13 games in green. Crowell torched the Broncos for 219 yards, a majority of it coming on a 77-yard score that made up the Jets’ first points on the afternoon. Perhaps more shockingly, Crowell needed only 15 carries to do it. Sam Darnold completed only 10 passes, but three of them ended in touchdowns (two to Robby Anderson). That was enough to secure his first MetLife Stadium win.
With the outcome well in hand, Denver tried to make things respectable. On the final play, Case Keenum’s would-be touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton was intercepted by Marcus Maye. The safety ran it back 104 yards but he was stopped just short by Sutton, the one man to run longer than him. It was good for the longest return in Jets history, and the longest return in NFL history that didn’t end in a touchdown.
11/10/19: Back to the Future
The likenesses and jerseys of Darnold, Daniel Jones, Jamal Adams, and Saquon Barkley are expected to adorn the respective entrances and patrons of MetLife Stadium for years to come. Fans of both metropolitan sides got a glimpse of what this group of football stardom had to offer when they met last fall.
Darnold spotted the Jets an early 14-point lead through both the air and the ground, rushing for a two-yard score before finding Jamison Crowder for a 23-yard strike. While the Jets were able to hold Barkley to a single yard on 13 carries, but Jones showed what he could do in the form of four touchdown tosses. Even when Adams pried the ball away from him for a score, those passes allowed the Giants to take a slim lead into the fourth quarter.
But after a Giants three-and-out late in the third (capped off by a Nathan Shepard sack), the Jets took the lead for good on a one-yard run by Le’Veon Bell early in the fourth. Defenses mostly reigned from there on out, with the Jets earning a Sam Ficken field to provide insurance in what became a 34-27 win.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags