Now that the NFL’s version of the Evil Empire is dead and buried, New York Jets fans can look back and laugh at some of the inane and insane plays that could have cost their team the second most important win in Jets history.
You need a good sense of humor and strong heart medication to be a New York Jets fan, and that was never more evident than last weekend when the Jets defeated the New England Patriots in the divisional playoff round.
While the Jets won 28-21 and had the game under control for the last couple minutes, you could make the argument that the Patriots should have lost the game by 10-20 points instead of just a touchdown, and the only reason the Pats hung around so long was because the Jets made more mistakes than American Idol voters.
Here is a look back at the plays and players Jets fan will always remember—much more fondly than if the Jets had lost.
David Harris being tackled by Alge Crumpler
Tom Brady was as due for an interception as he is for a haircut, so his first-quarter pick did not come as a surprise. What happened after the interception was the shocker.
Jets linebacker Harris ran by Brady and a flurry of offensive linemen on his way to what seemed like a sure score. But suddenly, from 20 yards away, New England tight end Crumpler started gaining ground with the speed of a greyhound.
I do not have Crumpler’s football card in front of me, but I believe he is 60 years old and 400 pounds, give or take a couple years and pounds, yet this oversized fossil somehow corralled Harris at the 8-yard line.
Bart Scott said in a radio interview that Harris is the fastest linebacker on the team and that he has 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash. The Jets better re-calibrate their stopwatches. Usain Bolt will not have to worry about Harris overtaking him as the World’s Fastest Human.
One good thing Harris did was tire Crumpler out, though. Crumpler may have expended too much energy running down Harris, because later in the game he dropped a sure touchdown toss from Brady that could have changed the game entirely.
Nick Folk’s missed field goal
Any thoughts of Folk suddenly becoming as money on short field-goal attempts as Steve Nash is on the free throw line went out the window when Folk pulled his 30-yard try after the Harris interception.
This was the streusel on the cinnamon cake after a disastrous series that began with Shonn Greene tripping over Sanchez’s foot on a first-down hand off, and LaDainian Tomlinson losing seven yards on a second-down screen pass that Jim Marshall would have been proud of since L.T. was going backwards.
The good news for the Jets is that while Folk is no strength, he might actually be better than the Pittsburgh Steelers’ kicker when the teams meet in the AFC Championship game. While Shaun Suisham connected on 14 of 15 field goal tries and all 19 extra point attempts after being signed in the middle of the season, he had some shaky seasons with the Washington Redskins where he made Folk look like Mr. Automatic.
Steve Weatherford’s affection for the end zone
Weatherford found an interesting way to make the Jets faithful forget about his idiotic decision earlier in the season to call his own number on a fake punt on a 4th-and-19 play deep in Jets territory during a dreadful 9-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers, who the Jets could possibly be seeing again in two weeks.
Weatherford has been masterful in placing punts inside the 20-yard line. He only had four touchbacks during the regular season, compared to 42 punts that he dropped inside the 20. Yet so far in the playoffs, he has booted six balls into the end zone and only had two land inside the red zone—one ball to the 13 against Indianapolis and one to the 16 against New England.
Any comparisons to Ray Guy can be shelved for a while.
The Jets rely on the running game, defense and field position to win their games, so having Weatherford hitting his punts ad badly as John Daly hits his sand wedges is troubling. On the plus side, though, Weatherford was awesome in the Jets game at Pittsburgh during the regular season. He chipped three punts inside the 10-yard line in that contest.
Shonn Greene not falling on the ground
Greene is no Brian Westbrook or Maurice Jones-Drew, and not only because he is not the well-rounded running back either of those two are/were. Both Westbrook and Drew were famously intelligent enough to pass up easy touchdowns in recent years in favor of just laying on the turf in front of the end zone so their squads could safely run the clock out on their way to victories.
With the Jets needing just one first down to stick the dagger in the Patriots’ red-white-blue hearts once and for all, Greene ran off tackle on a second-down play and saw more daylight than the Chilean miners did after escaping from being trapped underground for a month.
Greene could have just slammed on the brakes. He could have pretended there was a banana peel at the 5-yard line. He could have even gingerly run out of bounds. Instead, with Rex Ryan chasing after him with Crumpler-like speed, Greene chose to score, which was the only way the Patriots had a sliver of a chance of winning.
This boneheaded decision led to an excruciating minute-plus where Jets fans were forced to watch the Jets employ the dreaded two-man pass rush and allow the Pats to get a late touchdown. Then came another onside kick where Darrelle Revis acted like he would rather share a hot tub with Carrot Top than catch the bouncing ball. Luckily, Eric Smith covered the ball cleanly and put a fork in the Pats.
Let’s hope Greene is smart enough to fall flat on his facemask—or that he is not on the field—if the same situation arises this Sunday.
Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes running the same route
Braylon and Santonio should have their own reality show on VH1 in the offseason. Maybe it can be part of a block with Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco’s shows and Football Wives. They say dumb things to the media; get into trouble off the field; do cartwheels, back flips, and untimely celebrations on the field; and catch game-winning touchdown passes and drop several others.
BraySant had a memorable moment against the Patriots that had me laughing so hard that I thought I cracked a few ribs. Somehow the two of them ran the same exact pattern to the left sideline on a second quarter pass play. Quarterback Mark Sanchez threw the ball to Holmes, which seemed to signal that Edwards was in the wrong place. Holmes was wide open and would have had a 30-yard gain, but Edwards stuck his hand up and deflected the ball away as he thought the pass was meant for him. Antonio Cromartie could not have defended the play better.
Sanchez looked like someone had just told him that his Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark tickets were counterfeit. He should not be surprised by anything Edwards does, although normally his costly mistakes come in the form of 10-yard holding penalties and bobbling passes because he has hands like Dan Uggla.
Edwards more than made up for his faux pas by catching a touchdown pass later on, as did Holmes. This duo, along with veteran Jerricho Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller, has formed the best receiving corps the Jets have had in years. Just like with many players on Gang Green, Jets fans know they have to take the bad with the good, and they just hope that one of the Jets’ brain farts does not cost them a Super Bowl berth this Sunday night.