Throwback Thursday is a feature at Turn On The Jets, where we take a stroll down Jets Memory Lane and reminisce about past great Jets games against the upcoming week’s opponent. (Word to be taken with an enormous grain of salt: “great”)
By the time I debuted this feature late last season, the Jets were out of any serious playoff contention. They were 4-7, about to host another bad team (the Arizona Cardinals) in what was sure to be one of the worst games two NFL teams could possibly play (And it was! It was such a terrifyingly poor game that Greg McElroy was the best quarterback on the field by a wide margin).
It got me thinking about the countless miserable, soulless, morale-crushing games the Jets have been a part of over their history. That’s not to say the Jets lost all of these games. But really, if you weren’t born with the burden of being a Jets fan, how many full Jets games would you honestly have voluntarily sat through in your lifetime? Two? Six, tops?
And so I started this column, which is dedicated to looking back at the Worst of the Worst all-time against the Jets’ upcoming opponent. We begin this season with a peek in the rear view mirror at a Great Moment in Jets-Bucs History.
Jets vs. Buccaneers – October 9, 2005 – Giants Stadium
At the time…
Billboard No. 1 Song in the U.S.: “Gold Digger” by Kanye West f/ Jamie Foxx. If i may, let me repeat what I wrote last year about Mr. Yeezus and this song: It’s good that Kanye didn’t want to deal with with a chick who was going to be super expensive and high maintenance or anything like that.
No. 1 Movie in the U.S.: “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”. HUH? Anyone? Bueller? Come to think of it, I think “Wallace” and “Gromit” were the last names of actual wide receivers the Jets suited up for real games last season.
Jets record coming in: 1-3 (Finished 4-12. Something named Kliff Kingsbury took some snaps. Dreck.)
Buccaneers record coming in: 4-1 (Finished 11-5)
In the early stages of the 2005 season, the Jets lost their top two quarterbacks in the span of about seven minutes. In Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, starter Chad Pennington got hurt (which the Jets home crowd cheered), and backup Jay Fiedler went down a few plays later. With both likely out for the season, Coach Herm Edwards and GM Terry Bradway weren’t about to hand the reins over to Brooks Bollinger (although I can imagine that if Twitter were around back then, #FreeBrooks or #StartBollinger would have been an actual thing), so they had to scour the scrap heap for a starting-level quarterback. And boy, was there a Prince Charming ready to ride in on white horseback.
Forever incapable of properly managing the quarterback position, the Jets signed soon-to-be 42-year-old Vincent Frank Testaverde. After a week of GIVING THE THIRD STRINGER A SHOT BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW HE JUST NEEDS A CHANCE in Week 4 (in which Bollinger threw for 149 yards in a 16-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens) the Jets handed the keys back to Vinny for a Week 5 tilt against the unbeaten Tampa Bay Bucs. Please note that the Vegas over/under for this game was 32.
The Bucs were 4-0 entering the game, somehow, since Brian Griese was their starting quarterback. Testaverde vs. Griese; real clash of the titans here. Griese was so bad he was eventually replaced later in the season by Chris Simms (brother of current Jets 3rd stringer and surefire Hall-of-Famer Matt..See how this all comes together!)
The Bucs had two possessions before Jets fans got to experience Vinny 2.0, as Jerricho Cotchery fumbled the game’s first punt because of course he did. Tampa converted the blunder into a field goal, but Testaverde wasted no time in turning back the clock. He went 3-of-4 on his first series, highlighted by a 31 yard strike down the middle to Laveraneus Coles. Unfortunately, Mike Nugent missed a 40-yard field goal, likely making Testaverde reconsider why he’d ever choose to play for the Jets on two separate occasions. As the Giants Stadium crowd was becoming giddy with visions of a Testaverde renaissance, they were rightly sent back to reality by the not at all shocking terribleness of a game in the year 2005 in which the quarterbacks were Brian Griese and Vinny Testaverde.
Down 6-0, the Jets picked Griese off and two plays later took a 7-6 lead on a Curtis Martin touchdown run. The Bucs put together a 13-play, 65-yard drive in the final two minutes of the first half, kicking a go-ahead field goal to go up 9-7. Barnburner = on. There were two entire scores in the second half; a 1-yard Martin TD in the 3rd quarter and another Bucs field goal in the 4th. It doesn’t take long to tally up the abysmal final score of 14-12, your New York Jets.
Back to Vinny. Again, on that first drive, he went 3-of-4 for 43 yards. The rest of the game? 10-of-15, 129 yards, 1 INT. If anything is evidence that the Jets’ quarterback situation has forever been a tsunami of steaming garbage…I mean…It doesn’t matter if the Jets’ starting quarterback is white, black, asian, 24 years old, 42 years old, male, female, alive or dead – you can guarantee they’ll somehow find a way to only throw for 168 yards. It’s incredible, really.
There’s a reason that FOX has chosen milquetoast Mets sideline reporter Kevin Burkhardt to handle the play-by-play for this Sunday’s game. You’ve got a shaky, not ready rookie quarterback on one side. You have Josh Freeman on the other. The definition of a lame duck head coach on one side, and an over his head, mouth-breathing, back to college in two years cretin on the other. It has the real potential to rival the 2005 classic between these perpetually heinous franchises, which was one for the ages.