Since winning their lone Super Bowl in 1969, the New York Jets have been on the cusp of a Super Bowl with four appearances in the AFC Championship Game. Yet, all four trips ended in painful disappointment. Let’s take a closer look at just how bad each one hurt and hope this is the year they finally get over the hump.
1982: Miami Dolphins – 14 New York Jets – 0- The “Mud Bowl”…Miami notoriously didn’t put a tarp on the field the night before the game, leading the playing surface to resemble a swamp. Jets quarterback Richard Todd threw five interceptions, including one that was returned for a score. This followed a strike shortened 9 game season, so I don’t know if that dulled the pain at all for Jets fans at the time (considering I wasn’t born until 5 years after this) yet judging from hearing my Uncle talk about this game, it didn’t.
1998: Denver Broncos – 23 New York Jets – 10 – Early in the second half, a blocked punt by Blake Spence set up a 1 yard touchdown run by Curtis Martin, giving the underdog Jets a surprising 10-0 lead. Yet, what followed was a complete meltdown that still stings to think about today. Denver ripped of 23 straight points and they moved up and down the field on the Jets defense at will. Their comeback was supported by a botched kick return that the Broncos recovered (thank you very much Dave Meggett). In the end, the Jets couldn’t overcome a mind-boggling six turnovers, including four fumbles.
2009: Indianapolis Colts - 30 New York Jets – 17 – The Jets came from 7-7 and being proclaimed out of the playoffs by their own coach to Indianapolis for the AFC Championship Game. Similar to 1998, the underdog Jets would build a double digit lead, this time at 17-6 late in the first half, and then watch their opponent storm back for the victory. The Colts scored 24 unanswered points as the Jets defense was helpless to stop Peyton Manning.
2010: Pittsburgh Steelers – 24 New York Jets – 19 – Coming off arguably the second biggest win in franchise history when they upset the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Jets sleepwalked out of the gate and fell behind 24-0. A furious second half comeback attempt fell just short as they couldn’t stop Pittsburgh on a key third down to give their offense one last shot for the win. Considering the way last season went, I still fully believe if the Jets stopped Pittsburgh on that third down and got the ball back, they would have scored the winning touchdown.
Which loss do you think was the most painful? I would say it was between last year and 1998. In ’98, the Jets had been rolling all year since Vinny Testaverde took over at quarterback and they had control of the game in the second half and to see it crumble so quickly was brutal to watch. Last season, you really felt after knocking New England off, it was the Jets year to fulfill all their pre-season hype and guarantees but it just didn’t happen for them.