Throwback Thursday is a feature at Turn On The Jets, where we 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”)
The Jacksonville Jaguars have only been around for 18 seasons, but our beloved New York Jets have faced them quite often despite the teams being in different divisions. This Sunday’s mammoth matchup will be the 11th all-time meeting between the two, including playoffs, so there were a bevy of choices for this week’s Throwback Thursday. There were some real gems in there, like the 2006 41-0 Jags victory, or the 1999 16-6 Jags win – but we’re not going to go back to 1999 and subject ourselves to any more Rick Mirer memories, because one look back at Rick Mirer in a Jets uniform is one far, far too many.
There’s one game in Jets-Jaguars lore that makes almost too much sense to take a look back at in this current time. Before we get there, let’s set the scene:
Jets vs. Jaguars – September 25, 2005 – Giants Stadium
At the time…
Billboard No. 1 Song in the U.S.: “Gold Digger” by Kanye West f/ Jamie Foxx. It’s good that Kanye doesn’t want to deal with with a chick who’s going to be super expensive and high maintenance and all.
No. 1 Movie in the U.S: “Flightplan” starring Jodie Foster. The IMDB description reads:
“A claustrophobic, Hitchcockian thriller. A bereaved woman and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet the child vanishes and nobody admits she was ever on that plane.”
“Hitchcockian”! Who knew Peter King wrote descriptions for IMDB. This movie made over $223 million. This should be the test for whether or not the U.S. economy is in good shape. Make a horrible movie starring Jodie Foster and if it makes $223 million, we’re doing just fine thank you.
Jets Record Before: 1-1
Jaguars Record Before: 1-1
The 2004 season ended like so many others in Jets history; they ripped your heart out of your chest and used it as a pinata. If you’re a real Jets fan you don’t even need to be reminded, but I’ll do it for you anyway DOUG BRIEN YOU SUCK. In between the 2004 and 2005 seasons, the body of Jets’ starting quarterback Chad Pennington continued its Civil War, as the battered QB underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. He was the unquestioned starter heading into the 2005, but the Jets brought in veteran Jay Fiedler as his backup. Pennington got off to a rough start in 2005 but the Jets were 1-1 heading into a Week 3 battle with the Jaguars.
The Jaguars took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter on a touchdown pass from Byron Leftwich to Ernest Wilford, but the Jets responded with a 9-play, 80 yard drive that was capped off with a one yard TD plunge by Jerald Sowell. But the third quarter is when things got really interesting at Giants Stadium.
Sometime in the period Pennington was sacked twice in a row, and after the second one came up visibly hurt, hanging his previously-injured right arm limp at his side as he came slowly towards the sideline. I remember this vividly because I was in the building, and it’s not easy to forget what happened next. As the struggling Pennington came towards the sideline, clearly hurting, cheers started cascading down from the Jets “faithful”. The fed-up mob of “fans” were cheering the fact that their quarterback – who had brought them within a field goal of the AFC Championship game less than eight months earlier – was hurt. In came Fiedler, who was clearly going to save the day and lead the Jets and their fans into a decade-long glory period with multiple Super Bowl titles, plentiful food and naked chicks abound. You know, sort of like Greg McElroy.
Well Fiedler played a few snaps and injured HIS right shoulder, which got awesome-if-you-just-give-him-a-chance third stringer Brooks Bollinger warming up on the sidelines. But Pennington fought through and made his way back to the field, and the Bollinger-era would have to wait until a little later in the season.
The Jets took a 14-10 lead in the 3rd on a defensive touchdown, a 33-yard fumble recovery by James Reed. The teams went back and forth; Josh Scobee kicked a field goal and Fred Taylor scored a TD for Jacksonville, and Mike Nugent kicked a field goal to cut the Jags’ lead to 20-17 late in the fourth. Afterwards, Jacksonville receiver Reggie Williams fumbled and David Barrett recovered at midfield and brought the ball to the Jags’ 21, setting up a chance for the Jets to snag a victory late. On third and goal from the seven, Pennington appeared to have won the Jets the game and given a big double middle finger to the crowd, hitting Wayne Chrebet in the end zone. But the play was reviewed and Chrebet was judged to have bobbled the ball, and the Jets had to settle for a game-tying field goal.
On to overtime we went, and the teams traded interceptions before the Jets punted the ball away to the Jaguars from their own end zone. On third down, Leftwich hit Jimmy Smith for a 36-yard winner. 26-20 Jaguars, and the Jets’ poor 2005 season was off and running.
Pennington’s statline was downright awful. Shield you eyes, kids: 9-of-19, 76 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs. With a slow start to the season, it was pretty clear that the Jets’ QB wasn’t healthy and likely tried to rush back because he knew if he didn’t play and either Fiedler or Bollinger did, the Jets would go something like 4-12. Well, the Jets went 4-12.
But it’s obvious why this game is so appropriate to look back on with the Jets’ current mess and the toxic atmosphere surrounding the team. I should have taken the cue in 2005 being in that stadium that Jets fans were capable of anything. If last Sunday, Mark Sanchez got hit low and had to limp off the field on one leg, and you DON’T think that the majority of MetLife Stadium would have erupted in joy, well I’ll give you a few bucks so you can go buy a clue.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with fans booing players for poor on-field performance. Actually, few things make me madder than people who say “When your team is down is when you should support them the MOST! Puppy dogs and ice cream!” You pay a lot of money for your seats, and when you go to a game and a player plays awful, boo them all you want. But what is it about Jets quarterbacks that bring out the worst in some of these people? What the hell did Mark Sanchez or Chad Pennington ever do to you that you’d actually cheer for them when they got hurt or root for them to fail – which again, there WILL be Jets fans doing this Sunday, don’t kid yourself. You want to know what Pennington said after this game, with the Jets heading to Baltimore to face the Ravens and their vaunted defense?
“They’ll have to cut it off for me not to play.”
Maybe I’m just as bad because in 2008, when Pennington brought the Miami Dolphins into Giants Stadium and beat the Jets to win the division, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there was a part of me that was happy. At the very least I felt great for Pennington, who gave a lot of Jets fans what they deserved after the way they often treated him.
All the Jets fans who thought Pennington wasn’t good enough to lead the Jets to victory ended up being right. They didn’t win with Pennington. Those who don’t think they’ll ever win with Sanchez will likely end up being right too. But they didn’t win with Vinny Testaverde, or Brett Favre, or Ken O’Brien or Boomer Esiason. But when those feelings of rage you get when you see Mark Sanchez start creeping up on Sunday, just remember 2009 and 2010, and remember the names like Rick Mirer, Brooks Bollinger, Frank Reich, Kellen Clemens and Browning Nagle.
You’re a Jets fan. It’s been worse. And there will be times when it is much, much worse than having Chad Pennington or Mark Sanchez.