Throwback Thursday: Jets vs. Steelers – December 14, 2003

Chris Celletti goes Throwback Thursday on Jets/Steelers, looking back at a 2003 showdown

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”)

Let’s mix it up a bit. Things are good in JetLand right now. Why rain on the parade? Miserable, Francesa-calling Giants fans are already doing that, but let’s leave that to them and keep the positive vibes going here. When we look back at Jets-Steelers history, there is plenty of bad to choose from. The Steelers lead the all-time series 16-4, including playoffs. Out of the four Jets wins, only one of them only one was really important or impressive, during the 2010 regular season up in Heinz Field. But that’s not the one we’re going to concentrate on. This is, after all, TOJ Throwback Thursday.

Instead, let’s go back to Giants Stadium in December of 2003.

At the time…

Billboard No. 1 song in the U.S.: “Hey Ya!” by OutKast. No beef here.

No. 1 movie in the U.S.: “Something’s Gotta Give”, for which Diane Keaton earned a Best Actress nomination. Written, directed and produced by Nancy Meyers, who also did all of that for The Parent Trap, The Holiday, and It’s Complicated. So she seems to have cornered the market on romantic comedies for white people over the age of 50. Good for her.

Jets’ record coming in: 5-8. After the 2002 season where Chad Pennington burst onto the scene, he got injured in the 2003 preseason because the Jets aren’t allowed to have nice things. They stumbled to a 6-10 record, but they were probably a better football team than that. This sandwiched two good seasons, the 2002 and 2004 ones, in which Pennington was largely healthy and effective.

Steelers’ record coming in: 5-8. One of the rare bad seasons in Pittsburgh.

Snow games are fun look at, but generally not fun to watch. This was one of those snow games where there was legitimate slush on the field of play, which usually makes for a game that’s filled with slips, falls, fumbles, a lot of runs, not a lot of long or effective passes and few points. And that’s just what we got.

I’m not sure why, but it seems that the Jets get off to a great start in ever game we choose for this column. The Jets got the ball first and the offense got to work. Pennington hit Santana Moss for 11 yards to pick up an early first down. Curtis Martin chugged along, pushing the Jets upfield. On 3rd and 3 at the Steelers’ 37, Pennington dumped it off to Jerald Sowell (“Sowell Train”!) for a 20 yard gain. A few plays later the drive stalled but Doug Brien* knocked a field goal through to open the scoring.

*Sorry to bring up Doug Brien. In a game against the Steelers, no less! GAHHH

The Steelers actually moved the ball quite well on their first drive as well, but Jeff Reed missed a 43 yard field goal that would have tied it. The teams traded scoreless possessions until almost halftime. On the last possession of the quarter, the Jets ran an effective two-minute offense, with Pennington mixing up short passes and effective runs from Martin. The big play was a 29-yard completion from Pennington to Martin which set Brien up for another field goal attempt that he made, giving the Jets a 6-0 lead heading for the break.

Pitching a shutout in the second half meant the Jets would win, and it was a good thing they did that because the offense fell apart. The Jets punted on all three of their possessions in the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter, squandered a chance to put the game away. After Curtis Martin ran off the left tackle for the slowest, longest 56-yard gain in the history of professional football, Pennington fumbled on the very next play. But Tommy Maddox wasn’t able to engineer a thing. With just over two minutes left, the Steelers had one more chance to try and win it, and the Jets gave them good field position as the Steelers began from their own 45. But Maddox misfired on all four of his pass attempts, and the Jets were able to hold on and register their final win of the 2003 season, 6-0.

It was ugly, but, especially against the Steelers, it didn’t really matter. As it won’t this Sunday, as the Jets just need to keep the momentum going by gutting out a win any way possible. Can Tommy Maddox come back for a game? Please?

Author: Chris Celletti

Chris graduated from Seton Hall University with a degree in Broadcasting. He's previously written for SB Nation New York, primarily covering the Jets, Knicks and boxing. His work has also appeared at other SBNation sites including Bad Left Hook and SB Nation Los Angeles.