Throwback Thursday is a new feature here at Turn On The Jets, where we’ll take a stroll down Jets Memory Lane and reminisce about great Jets games in the past against their upcoming opponent. (Word to not take seriously in that last sentence: “great”)
I was talking with my brother, esteemed Sanchez Breakdowner at Turn On the Jets Rob Celletti, and we were talking about how potentially miserable this Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium between the Jets and Arizona Cardinals might be. And we’re not talking like 2012 blowout losses vs. the Patriots, Dolphins and 49ers-type miserable, more in the sense of “Sweet Jesus this is a horrifying display of football.” You see, when you have a history like the Jets do, where once about every three or four years you’re absolutely terrible, you rack up a bunch of these types of games. So Sunday’s tussle between these two 4-7 behemoths has a chance to be really, really bad, but it isn’t the first time these teams have played each other and made everyone in attendance want to leave the stadium and rob a charity. Oh no. Do you remember November 7, 1999? No? Well that’s what we’re here for.
Before we get to the ’99 doozy, simply looking ahead at the Jets’ remaining schedule this year we have a lot of excellent Throwback Thursdays in store to get you through the rest of this season. The Jaguars? Titans? Chargers? Have to be some real horrors in there. Now, if we decide to continue this into next year, hopefully the season won’t be lost by Week 6 and we’ll decide to sprinkle in a few actual positive memories from Jet Land. They are few and far between, but they do exist. But, until then, let’s get to it. If you’re a Jet fan you’re a masochist anyway, so these feelings should be comforting.
Jets vs. Cardinals – November 7, 1999 – Giants Stadium
At the time…
Billboard No. 1 Song in the U.S.: “Smooth” by Santana f/ Rob Thomas (aka, the song that Santana made to say “If I’m gonna sell out and take a dump on my entire 30 years of work, I’m taking Rob Thomas’ credibility as a rock artist down with me”)
No. 1 Movie in the U.S.: “The Bone Collector”, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Never seen it, but Bobby Cannavale (aka Gyp Rosetti in Boardwalk Empire) is also in it, so that may make it worth watching.
Jets Record Before: 1-6
Cardinals Record Before: 2-5
The ’99 season is one that sticks out in Jets fans’ minds distinctly and in a bad way. It was the one season that the Jets were well respected all around in preseason and were not just a sexy pick to win the Super Bowl, but a realistic one. They’d just come off the ’98 AFC Title loss in Denver, and with Bill Parcells manning the sidelines and having taught Vinny Testaverde to remember what color he was supposed to throw to, an in-prime Curtis Martin, an in-prime Keyshawn Johnson and oh yeah a defensive coordinator named Bill Belichick, the Jets were one of the best teams in the league, no question. And then in Week 1 Testaverde’s Achilles’ tendon exploded into 40 pieces and the season was over. They entered Week 9 off a bye at 1-6, with their lone win coming in Week 4 against Denver.
The Jets welcomed in a 2-5 Arizona team led by better-than-Shonn-Greene Michael Pittman, former Jets Adrian Murrell and Rob Moore and former Giants quarterback Dave Brown (Jake Plummer was the starter, he was either hurt or was benched for a miserable start to the season – I’m not sure but it really isn’t important). The best thing about Dave Brown as an Arizona Cardinal was the fact that he wore his entire name on the back of his jersey. Yes, the back of his jersey said “DAVE BROWN”. More people in the the NFL, and all sports for that matter, should do this. It would be funnier if after throwing a back-breaking pick and chasing a cornerback down the field in despair, it said “MARK SANCHEZ” instead of just “SANCHEZ”.
The Jets drew first blood on a John Hall field goal, but the Cards took a commanding 7-3 lead into halftime through Pittman’s four yard touchdown in the second quarter. Just when you thought those Jets would hang their heads, realize the season was over, look at their starting quarterback Rick Mirer and fight the urge to rip his index finger off so could never throw another pass…well whatever the Big Tuna said at halftime worked like a charm.
Gang Green stormed out of the half and put up a crucial three more points on the board, getting within striking distance entering the fourth quarter at 7-6. And that’s when the magic really happened. The stout Jets defense held DAVE BROWN in check, sacking him six times. Six times! Do the Jets have six sacks this season? The Jets’ six sacks came from James Farrior (he owes every Jets fan a personal apology), Mo Lewis, Ernie Logan (2 sacks), Rick Lyle and Roman Phifer. How many of these guys could start for the Jets defense THIS Sunday? The jury is still out.
So that left things up to Mirer and the offense to bring it home, and home is where they brought it! The one-score-per-quarter trend kept up, with Mirer hooking up with Keyshawn Johnson for a 43-yard game-winning touchdown. The Jets went for two, and missed of course, which is where we got our brilliant final score: Jets 12, Cardinals 7. Sadly, this would be the last game Rick Mirer ever played as a New York Jet. He threw for 122 yards on 12-of-18 (Loogit that completion percentage you guys – hey Sanchez, why can’t you just be more like Rick Mirer?!?), which means that if you took out his 43 yard outlier, he threw for a whopping 79 yards. On the other hand, despite getting sacked six times, DAVE BROWN threw for 199 yards and had a respectable QB rating of 85. In related news, Rick Mirer sucked.
The Jets leaned heavy on their defense and running game, with Curtis Martin piling up 131 yards on 38 carries. Where was Rex Ryan on Nov. 7, 1999? Why do I envision him watching this game in a dark basement, rubbing his wife’s feet while scarfing down fried chicken and pork rinds and yelling “GROUND AND POUND, BOOOOOM BABY!” at the top of his lungs? Games like this get Rex Ryan all tingly in the wrong places.
This game had two legendary bad quarterbacks, six total fumbles, nine sacks, 28 combined pass completions, just over 500 yards in total offense and 25 first downs. The Jets moved to 2-6 with the win, spurring on a three game winning streak and a 6-2 run to finish a respectable 8-8 with Ray Lucas under center. Now in 2012, Ray Lucas sits at a studio outside Radio City with a bad makeup job and tie knots the size of my fist and bashes the one organization who gave him a chance. Without the New York Jets, Ray Lucas would be a gym teacher in New Brunswick.
Let’s all hope this Sunday’s tilt between these two banner franchises can mirror the excitement of their meeting 13 years prior.