Jets Healing the Past: Why Rex Ryan May Be the Guy Who Broke NY's 50-Year Curse

Cole TesslerCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2010

It was over. The Jets lost to the Falcons on the last play of the game; they were 7-7 and Rex Ryan said it himself that the Jets were done. And everyone thought, "Typical Jets."

Disappointment has been instilled in a Jets fan's DNA. If you're a Jets fan there are two rules: expect the worst, hope for the best; and when things are going right, they expect them to go wrong as soon as possible.

But recently, that has changed.


The Curse

Ever since 1969, when Joe Namath ran into the tunnel holding one finger up after winning the Super Bowl, the Jets haven't won or even been to a Super Bowl. And since 1969, almost every season has ended in some sort of heartbreak for the Jets.

Namath had trouble with the curse after that legendary game; he would never post a winning season after the 1969 season due to the troubles with his knees.

Jet fans have suffered through events such as the 1998 AFC Championship. With the Jets beating the Broncos 10-7 in the second half, a swirling gust of wind came on the Broncos kickoff, knocking the ball off its path and the Broncos recovered. This led to a Broncos field goal tying the game, and led to 13 unanswered points by the Broncos. The Jets lost 23-10.

The year after that with the Jets hoping to go back to the Super Bowl, Vinny Testaverde would get injured one of the season opener, and eventually ruled out for the season. They would finish fourth in the AFC East that season and it would turn out to be Bill Parcells' last year as the Jets coach.

But there was hope—the Jets hired Bill Belichick as their new coach. He would infamously resign from the Jets job after a day and would then join their rival, the Patriots. He would lead them to three Super Bowl wins.  

It seemed like the Jets would get to the AFC championship in the 2004 Divisional Championship against the Steelers, but the Jets kicker, Doug Brien, missed two routine field goals at the end of the game that cost the Jets a heartbreaking loss in overtime.

There are also the Jets draft blunders. The Jets would choose Ken O'Brien over Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino in the 1983 draft. Also the Jets would choose Blair Thomas instead of Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, and tight end Kyle Brady instead of soon-to-be Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Let's take other examples of the curse...Chad Pennington for one. After the 2007 season when the Jets picked up Brett Favre, they dropped Chad Pennington. That season though, Chad Pennington would beat the Jets to shut down their playoff hopes in the final game of the season, and the Dolphins would post an 11-5 record. Chad Pennington was second in the MVP voting, and was the main reason the Jets missed the playoffs.

Speaking of Brett Favre, the Jets were 8-3 and on top of the AFC that season. Everyone thought the playoffs for the Jets were a lock, but they would only finish with one win for the rest of the season, and Favre would lead the league interceptions with 22. Next season though he would lead the Vikings to the NFC championship and would only throw seven interceptions.


The Change

Mangini got the axe after that season, and the Jets would bring in the Ravens defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan. He had a no fear, attitude and swagger. He would be bold in his first press conference and make a statement saying:

"We're gonna be attacking from the whistle—and not to the whistle, but through the whistle. We're gonna turn the heat up. We're gonna let the fur fly and let's see what happens."

"If you take a swipe at one of ours, we'll take a swipe at two of yours."

It seemed like Rex Ryan gave the Jets a personality, something they hadn't had in a long time. And when Ryan came along, good luck actually started to happen to the Jets.

In April that year, the Jets were able to make a trade with the help of their ex-coach, Mangini. They would trade up to the No. 5 spot and bring in their long awaited franchise quarterback, Mark Sanchez—something Jets fans haven't been able to say since Joe Namath.

They would also bring in Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard and draft Shonn Greene that offseason.


2009 Season

The Jets came into the season with low expectations. They had a new coach, a rookie quarterback and looked like almost a different team from last year. Many people thought that this was an 8-8 team; they were right, sort of.

The Jets would start out 3-0 and the Jets and Mark Sanchez seemed indestructible. But much like the seasons before, the Jets seemed to choke. They lost on the final play against the Falcons and Rex Ryan declared his team out.

A funny thing happened though—the Jets were still in it, barely, but they still had a chance. They had to beat two playoff teams, the Colts and Bengals, and have three contenders lose in one week. All the teams lost, and the Jets would become in control of their own destiny, but would have to play the then-undefeated Colts.

The Jets would get a little bit of help from the Colts who sat Peyton Manning and their other starters when the Jets were down by 10 in the third quarter. They would go on to win and then would beat the Bengals in Week 17, and punch their tickets to the playoffs.

They would beat the Bengals again for the second week in a row to go into the first round of the playoffs.

They then would beat the Chargers 17-14 with Pro Bowl kicker Nate Kaeding missing three field goals—more stokes of luck. The Jets would be only the second team in the history of the league to make it to the divisional championship with a rookie QB.

The Jets would put in a hard-fought battle with the Colts, and after leading 17-13 at half, the Jets couldn't handle Peyton Manning and would go on to lose 30-17.

The future was looking bright though. With Mark Sanchez developing and a new swagger, the expectations were enormously high going into the 2010 season.



The 2010 offseason was very friendly to the Jets, despite having restrictions due to the CBA. They would trade for Antonio Cromartie for only a future third-round pick.

The Jets would then sign LaDainian Tomlinson, snagging him away from the Vikings who were the most likely to get him.

They then solved their vacancy at slot receiver when trading for troubled receiver Santonio Holmes for only a fifth-round pick.

They also boosted their popularity sky-high when broadcasting their training camp on HBO's Hard Knocks. The Jets season would turn out to have the highest ratings in the history of the series.


2010 Season

The season would start off with a disappointment, losing 10-9 to the Ravens. But would bounce back beating everyone in the AFC East in three straight games and then getting Santonio Holmes and Calvin Pace back. But that's when the insanity would start to happen.

The next six weeks would include...

  • A pick six from Dwight Lowery to secure the Jets victory over the Vikings with 1:30 seconds left.
  • A pass interference on 4th-and-6 with 1:26 remaining against the Broncos put the Jets into the red zone, which would lead the Jets to an LT touchdown run that won the game.
  • A game-tying field goal as time expired (with help from a missed extra point from Ndamukong Suh). Then a game-winning field goal in overtime.
  • A touchdown pass with 16 seconds left in overtime against the Browns.
  • With 55 seconds on the clock, Mark Sanchez would lead the Jets on a game-winning drive with a touchdown pass to Holmes with 10 seconds left.

The Jets were 9-2, and it seemed as if they could possibly be the No. 1 seed for the AFC. That didn't go according to plan.

They would get humbled by the Patriots 45-3 and would get beat by the Dolphins 10-6 with Chad Henne only completing five passes.

Then it seemed as if the Jets would collapse again. Fans were calling for them to bench Mark Sanchez, and for the Jets to fire Brian Schottenheimer. But like they did last year, they were able to recover after a late-season collapse.

In what seemed like a very tough game for the Jets to win—on the road against the Steelers—the Jets would win 22-17, and with two seconds left with Ben Roethlisberger on his own 10, the Jets would not collapse and held on to the victory.

I don't want to jump the gun, but ask any long-time Jet fan, ever since Rex joined the Jets, they have been different. They are getting luckier, able to pull out games when not playing there best and they have personality.

But being a Jet fan, I have learned to always knock on wood, as I will do with my last statement.

So what do you think Jet fans? Do you think Rex broke the curse?

Let me know down below!



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