Rex Ryan's Jets are different. They may not be as Super Bowl ready as they claim. They may have holes that can be exposed in their much heralded defense. They may have a young quarterback who is sometimes more lucky than good. But they're different from Jets teams of the past and Monday Night's win over the Favre-lead Vikings was proof of it.
Since January the Jets have managed to paint a Giants town green and white, whether it was the unexpected run into the playoffs or all the Hard-Knocks, Super Bowl hyperbole of the off-season. And all of that is different for a Jets team that traditionally takes a backseat to the Giants. But there is something else about this team that feels different from any of the good Jets teams of the last 10 or 15 years. Which brings us to last night's circus in the new Meadowlands Stadium.
Coming in the Jets were actually quiet compared to all the noise coming out of Minnesota. Brett Favre, aside from reporting soreness in his elbow, is in trouble over some, um, suspicious texts, Randy Moss gets traded back to where his career began to try and pull Minnesota back into the hunt after a disappointing 1-2 start for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations of its own.
The game was delayed because of lightning in the area and before the first half was over rain drenched the field and possibly cost the Jets a touchdown in the Red Zone. There was a feeling that, even though the Jets were dominating on defense and Favre couldn't seem to hold onto the ball, that something bad was coming. There was no way Brett Favre was going to shrink that small for an entire game. A Monday Night game. No way, it didn't matter that Jon Gruden was practically calling the game over in the beginning of the 3rd quarter. No, Favre started getting out quick bullets to assorted receivers and once he aired it out for Moss in the end zone and jogged down the field to jump into Randy's arms in celebration the script started to look familiar.
The term "heartbreaking loss" gets tossed around a lot in sports. I'm not sure being up 15-0 and blowing the game would have been "heartbreaking". It would have been ugly to be sure, especially considering how much pressure the Jets defense got in the first half, but at 3-1 with wins over every team in your division and no team running away from anyone in the conference a come from behind loss to Brett Favre on Monday Night wouldn't have destroyed the Jets season.
Back when the Patriots were in the middle of their dynasty run and the Jets would hang with them the entire game but ultimately fall short when Tom Brady would march his team down the field with machine-like efficiency and ultimately drive the stake through the heart and into the end zone on one of his patented 4th quarter comeback drives: Those were heartbreaking losses. Because those were the big games for the Jets, trying to knock off the mighty Patriots, for bragging rights if nothing else.
This game began to bring all those familiar feeling back. Sure the Jets would be alive in the standings but what an ugly loss it would have been. Forget all the Favre drama or all the jawing between Revis and Moss. This could have been an example of how the Jets aren't ready to close the door when they have an opponent on the ropes.
But things didn't go like that. Good Favre eventually turned into Bad Favre (setting the NFL record for most fumbles on the same night he hit the 500 TD and 70,000 yard milestones) and threw a critical pic that all but ended the scare and the game. The Jets did enough to survive an ugly game and avoid the ending of that old heartbreaking script.