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New York Jets: The 20 Most Thrilling Wins in Franchise History

Chris Dela RosaContributor IMay 18, 2011

New York Jets: The 20 Most Thrilling Wins in Franchise History

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    With the lockout still at hand, it is time to look back on some New York Jets history.  

    Since 1960 the Jets have won hundreds of games.  Only a few can be considered "thrilling victories." Whether it's an incredible comeback against a rival or a trick play leading to a victory, it is safe to say that the Jets have had some incredible victories in their 51 years of existence.

    This list will take a look back on some of those wins, the order starts with some of the less thrilling victories and then moves into some of the well-known games and games that will be remembered forever within the New York Jets franchise.

20. Jets Beat Steelers 6-0 (December 14, 2003)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 14:  Curtis Martin #28 of the New York Jets tries to outrun Kendrell Bell #97, James Farrior #51, and Deshea Townsend #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 14, 2003 at Giant Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The J
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Who doesn't like a snowy game?  Curtis Martin sure did when the Jets hosted the Steelers at the Meadowlands in what turned out to be a low-scoring "ground 'n pound" battle.

    In this game, Curtis Martin put the team on his back as he racked more yards than the Jets passing attack with 174 yards in cold, wet conditions.  This was the first time the Steelers were shut out by any NFL team since 2000, when they lost 16-0 to the Ravens.

    Not did the Jets show how well the can play on the offensive side, they were able to hold Jerome "The Bus" Bettis to 68 yards in 16 carries. Meanwhile, they were able to contain Tommy Maddox, as he completed 16 passes out of 38 attempts, throwing for 137 yards.

19. Jets Beat Cardinals 31-21 to Avoid 0-16 Record (October 27, 1996)

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    Photo courtesy of life.com
    Photo courtesy of life.com

    Every team has one of these wins: most recently, the Detroit Lions.  In 1996, the Jets had an atrocious season where they went 1-15.

    Some of you may say that a game that keeps a team from going 0-16 should never be on a list like this, but the relief that must have been felt in the locker after this win is what gets it on this list.

    No team wants to lose every game and luckily the Jets were able to avoid this by beating the Arizona Cardinals, 31-21.  Even though the Jets turned the ball over three times, they were able to get past Arizona as running back Adrian Murrell ran for 199 yards and quarterback Frank Reich threw for 254 yards with two interceptions.

    This was definitely not the biggest win in New York Jets history, but it is one that saved the franchise from utter embarrassment that the Lions faced in 2008.

18. Jets Win Shootout in Miami (September 21, 1986)

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    Jets Quarterback Ken O' Brien against the Miami Dolphins.
    Jets Quarterback Ken O' Brien against the Miami Dolphins.

    In the first of two regular-season matchups, both the Dolphins and the Jets went into this Sunday afternoon game with the intention to leave the Meadowlands with a 2-1 record.

    In the end, it was the Jets that prevailed, as they beat the Dolphins in an overtime shootout. 

    After a constant back and forth battle, the Jets and Dolphins entered overtime tied at 45; both teams played sloppily, allowing one another to storm the down the field while also turning the ball over on several occasions.

    To score the game-winning touchdown, quarterback Ken O'Brien threw a 43-yard pass to Wesley Walker, putting the Jets ahead of the Dolphins 51-45, which give them the edge they set out for at the beginning of the game.

17. Jets Host Rams at Shea (September 25, 1983)

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    Mark Gastineau doing his famous "Sack Dance".
    Mark Gastineau doing his famous "Sack Dance".

    Fans that went to Shea Stadium to see the Los Angeles Rams take on the Jets were definitely treated to quite the game when the two went up against each other in 1983.

    The excitement in Queens began when Jets defensive lineman Mark Gastineau did his sack dance after sacking Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo, creating a brawl between him and Jackie Slater. 

    Because of this incident, Gastineau's sack dance was later banned.

    On top of a brawl, fans were treated to some extra football as the game went into overtime.  The Jets were able to slide past the Rams in this roller-coaster ride of a game as Pat Leahy kicked a 26-yard field goal to win the game.

16. Jets Field Goal Beats Raiders to Make the Playoffs (January 6, 2002)

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    After coming off a 14-9 loss against the Bills, the Jets' playoff chances were not looking too good as they entered week 17 to play against the Oakland Raiders

    Traveling to "The Black Hole" was and never is fun, and in 2002, the Raiders organization and their fans made sure that it would be no easy road trip for the Jets.

    Coach Herman Edwards in the locker room said that most people did not expect them to win the game, yet they were able to  pull off the upset.  A back-and-forth game led to what would be an emotional last-minute victory for the Jets players as Edwards put his trust and season in kicker John Hall's hands.

    Hall was given the opportunity to kick a game-winning 53-yard field goal to win the game and send his team to the playoffs on his first field goal attempt of the day in the final minute of the game.  He executed, giving the Jets a 24-22 lead, which they held for that last minute, sending them to the playoffs and setting up a rematch against the Raiders six days later, a game they lost.

15. Jets Put Up 62 Against the Buccaneers (November 17, 1985)

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    Jets Quarterback Ken O'Brien
    Jets Quarterback Ken O'Brien

    While this one does not involve a great comeback or crazy brawl, it still involves New York Jets history.  In this Week 11 matchup, the Jets scored the most amount points in franchise history.

    Even though they allowed 28 points, scoring more than 60 points is an incredible feat that shall be celebrated.  Leading this rout was Jets quarterback Ken O'Brien, who went 23-30 for 367 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. 

    Running the ball, the Jets were balanced, giving five different backs opportunities to run the ball as they demolished their opponents.

    The final score in this one was 62-28, which gave the Jets a great momentum boost as they entered the following week when they hosted New England and beat them by a field goal in a tough overtime battle.

14. Curtis Martin to Wayne Chrebet for Game Winning Score (September 24, 2000)

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    Wayne Chrebet catching a touchdown pass from Curtis Martin.
    Wayne Chrebet catching a touchdown pass from Curtis Martin.

    Yet another Jets-Buccaneers matchup at No. 14. 

    This time, it is the flashy play that gave the Jets the win and got this game on my list.  With 52 seconds left in the game against his former team, Herman Edwards was not afraid to pull out all the stops.

    For what would be the game-winning play, Edwards called for a play involving Curtis Martin throwing the ball to Wayne Chrebet; at the time it may have seemed like the stupidest idea in such a close game, but that is why Edwards was a head coach and why fans are simply fans (no offense to all of the football fans reading this).

    Somehow, Edwards' crazy idea worked, and Martin threw it 18 yards to give the Jets a 21-17 lead, which they kept until the end.

13. Jets Beat Dolphins to Make the Playoffs (December 22, 1991)

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    There is nothing better than going into the final week of a season playing your rivals and beating them to get into the playoffs. 

    While the Jets had this happen in 2008 with them on the losing end, there was a different outcome in 1991.

    Going into their last game, the Jets stood at a mediocre 7-8 but still had a chance to make the playoffs as long as they could go down to "the Swamp" and beat the Miami Dolphins.  Because of home-field advantage and the stakes of the game (the Dolphins also needed to win in order to make the playoffs, as they were 8-7 at the time), most thought the Dolphins would win.

    No surprise that, since this game is on the list, the Jets won and made it to the playoffs. 

    The game went into overtime, as the Dolphins were able to make a late push in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 20, but once that extra period started, the Jets went to work. 

    In no time, the Jets got into field-goal range, setting up Kicker Raul Allegre for a 30-yard field goal, which he nailed, sending them into the playoffs, where they would lose the very next week to the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans).

12. Special Teams Comes Through in Clutch to Beat Raiders (September 21, 1997)

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    Jets former Head Coach Bill Parcells.
    Jets former Head Coach Bill Parcells.

    Another one of those crazy comeback wins.  In this one, the Jets were down by 12 at halftime to a quality Oakland Raiders team.

    Led by head coach Bill Parcells, the Jets were able to make a slow and steady comeback in the second half by scoring six in the third quarter and seven in the fourth while holding the Raiders scoreless for the remainder of the game.

    The Jets won 23-22 when they scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown by returning Ray Mickens' blocked field goal for 72 yards to cap off a great comeback.

11. The Comeback at Shea (November 28, 1982)

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    Jets Running Back Freeman McNeil.
    Jets Running Back Freeman McNeil.

    In what was expected to be a game where the other team in green was expected to dominate, the Jets played host to the Green Bay Packers in what would turn out to be an exciting game.

    Rolling into this game at 2-1, the Jets were looking to send a message around the league that they were a force to be reckoned with.  

    While they wanted to portray a certain image of being a dominant team, the Jets did not play like one in the beginning, as they were down 13-6 at halftime against one of the best teams in the league at that point. 

    It is unclear what head coach Walt Michaels said in the locker room, but it must have worked because the Jets went on to score nine unanswered points in the second half, just getting them by the Packers.

10. New York Loves Nate Kaeding (January 8, 2005)

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    SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 08:  Kicker Doug Brien #6 of the New York Jets celebrates after kicking the game winning field goal in overtime against the San Diego Chargers during the AFC wild-card game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 8, 2005 in San Diego, Californi
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    At the end of the 2004 season, the Jets were able to slip into the playoffs by earning the Wild Card spot.  Going up against a great coach in Marty Schottenheimer, the Jets were not expected to beat the Chargers in their Wild Card matchup at Qualcomm.

    Of course, the Jets and head coach Herman Edwards did not back down from the challenge as both teams did their best to do better than the other. 

    In the fourth quarter, it seemed as if the Jets were going to be departing from San Diego unhappily since the Chargers scored 10 points unanswered and all the momentum was going for them.

    After a tough battle during overtime, the Chargers finally got the ball into field-goal range with less than five minutes left in the game, but Nate Kaeding could not come through, as his kick went wide right, putting the ball in the hands of Jets quarterback Chad Pennington

    Pennington was able to drive his team down the field, setting up Doug Brien for a 28-yard field goal with five seconds left. 

    Brien made the kick and the Jets won 20-17 but fell to the Steelers the following week by the same score as the Steelers won via an overtime field goal.

9. Patriots Can't Handle Favre at Foxborough (November 13, 2008)

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    Jay Feeley's game winning kick.
    Jay Feeley's game winning kick.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    One name sums up this epic victory the Jets had in 2008: Brett Favre

    Before the 2008 season, the Jets were able to sign former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre.  The Jets were rolling into Foxboro after winning three straight games, their previous win being a 47-3 rout of the St. Louis Rams.  

    In order to stay at the top of the division, the Jets needed to defeat the Patriots, and the atmosphere at Gillette Stadium is not the easiest to play in, especially with such high stakes involved. 

    After a back-and-forth game, the Jets had a seven-point lead in the final seconds of the game, but Matt Cassel would not go down without a fight.  With one second left, Cassel threw a touchdown pass to Randy Moss in the corner of the end zone, sending the game into overtime.

    After such a play, most thought the Patriots would end up beating the Jets and end up being the No. 1 team in the AFC East.  After exchanging the ball a few times, the Jets were able to get close enough to the end zone for Jay Feely, setting him up for an average field goal. 

    With seven minutes left in overtime, Feely was able to boot a 34-yard field goal, lifting the Jets above the Patriots and the rest of the AFC East as the Jets won, 34-31.

8. Jets Beat Dolphins Part 3 (November 22, 1981)

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    Jets receiver Jerome Barkum who caught the game winning pass.
    Jets receiver Jerome Barkum who caught the game winning pass.

    As you can tell by now, the Jets and Dolphins have had an intense rivalry over the last few years, as they have exciting games year in and year out. 

    In this game, the Jets were hosting the Dolphins at Shea Stadium on a cold November afternoon; fans were expecting a great game, as both teams were 7-4-1 at the time.

    A good game is exactly what they fans got.  After jumping out to a six-point lead, the Jets gave up 12 unanswered points to the Dolphins (one score a safety) and were down 12-6 at halftime.  Even though it seemed the momentum was going to carry Miami to the end, the Jets had a different opinion. 

    Once the fourth quarter began, the Jets went to work by cutting the lead to three with a field goal. Miami made a field goal of their own to extend their lead to six. 

    A pass to Jerome Barkum from Richard Todd would diminish the lead the Dolphins once had and give the Jets a one-point lead, which they held onto until the end. 

7. Peyton Who? Manning and Colts Shut Down in Playoffs by Jets (January 4, 2003)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 4:  LaMont Jordan #34 of the New York Jets runs past Idrees Bashir #28 of the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC wildcard game at Giants Stadium on January 4, 2003 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Jets won 41-0.  (Photo by
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    In 2002, the Jets barely made the playoffs, they wanted to make a statement in their first game, showing the rest of the NFL that they will not be pushed around, no matter who they play.

    Sadly for the Colts, that message was sent because of the implosion of their season.  The Colts finished with a better record than the Jets during the regular season, yet they couldn't seem to do a single thing against them in this game.  Somehow, the Jets were able to hold Peyton Manning to  14-of-31 passing with 137 yards and two interceptions.

    By keeping Manning from ripping through their defense, the Jets were able to embarrass the Colts 41-0, tied for the NFL's second-most lopsided postseason shutout (the first being the Bears beating Washington 73-0 in 1940).

6. Jets Demolish Colts, McNeil Flourishes (November 21, 1982)

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    Jets' Freeman McNeil
    Jets' Freeman McNeilGeorge Rose/Getty Images

    After an eight-week lockout, the Jets were finally able to continue their season against the Baltimore Colts.  Most of the suspense surrounding this game was built up during the lockout since football fans want to see their teams play every Sunday (or Monday). 

    There was not much suspense in the game itself, as the Jets had a 10-0 lead going into the second quarter, which they extended to 37-0 as they won the game.

    What makes this game so special is the fact that it came after having two months without any NFL games and also because the Jets were able to reap the benefits of their scouting staff. 

    During this game, Freeman McNeil ran for 134 yards with a touchdown.  McNeil would prove to be a great addition to the Jets roster, as he ended the season as the NFL's leading rusher with 786 yards in only nine games.

5. Patriots Can't Handle the Roar at Giants Stadium (September 20, 2009)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 20:  Dan Koppen #67 of the New England Patriots prepares to snap against the New York Jets at Giants Stadium on September 20, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    In his second game of his rookie season, Mark Sanchez was already being celebrated as one of the fans' favorite Jets quarterbacks as he led the Jets when they beat the New England Patriots at home for the first time since 2001, 16-9.

    This game was the first signal that the Jets had something going for them, as they were able to knock off a tough Patriots team in a low-scoring battle.

    Mark Sanchez played smart and the defense was able to keep Tom Brady from converting on fourth down towards the end of the game, and it was no surprise that the Jets made the playoffs that year.  

4. Win and They're Not in (December 18, 1988)

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    When the Jets moved into Giants Stadium in 1984, they were essentially considered as second-class citizens.  In 1988, the Jets got the chance to prove that they were more than New York's other team.

    The stakes of this game were higher than the stakes of any other Jets-Giants game, because if the Giants won, they would go to the playoffs.  The Jets did exactly what they needed to, as they defeated Phil Simms and the Giants, 27-21, ending the Giants' season early and on a poor note.

    Even though this was a great game for the Jets, their season did not go as planned, as they missed the playoffs for the second season in a row.

3. Revenge Is a Dish Best Served in the Cold (January 16, 2011)

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    Jets' "Flight Boys" celebrating their victory over the Patriots in the 2011 NFL Playoffs.
    Jets' "Flight Boys" celebrating their victory over the Patriots in the 2011 NFL Playoffs.Al Bello/Getty Images

    After being embarrassed 45-3 in their last game at Gillette Stadium, the playoff matchup between the Patriots and Jets earlier this year was a classic David and Goliath example.

    Somehow, the Jets were able to forget all about the 45-3 loss and prove to the Patriots and the rest of the NFL that one game does not define a season or team.  The Jets ended up winning, 28-21, as Mark Sanchez threw three touchdowns while Brady threw two with one interception—he was sacked five times. 

    For the Jets, the best moment came when Shonn Greene ran the ball in the end zone, putting the proverbial nail in the coffin as he used the ball as a pillow and told all of the Patriots organization and their fans to be quiet and go to sleep. 

    There is no doubt that this was the greatest game of the 2010 season, but there are still two better games in franchise history.

2. Monday Night Miracle (October 23, 2000)

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    Jets former offensive tackle, Jumbo Elliot catching first touchdown of his career against the Dolphins.
    Jets former offensive tackle, Jumbo Elliot catching first touchdown of his career against the Dolphins.

    As of right now, the Monday Night Miracle on October 23, 2000 is the greatest comeback in Jets history.  Both teams entered the night at 5-1, but after three quarters, it seemed like the Jets were going to be leaving the Meadowlands with a 5-2 record.

    The events that followed the third quarter were magical—the Jets avoided the loss by scoring 23 points in a row to tie the game at 30.  In most cases, when a team makes such a run in one quarter, it is rare they follow it up by winning the game and beating their opponent, but the Jets would not be stopped.

    Both teams scored another touchdown, sending the game to overtime where the Jets would win from a field goal by John Hall.

1. Super Bowl III (January 12, 1969)

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    Jets Quarterback Joe Namath after beating the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
    Jets Quarterback Joe Namath after beating the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

    As of right now, what can top this game?

    Absolutely nothing.

    Joe Namath and the 1968 Jets were the best thing to ever happen to the Jets in franchise history, bringing with them a Super Bowl III victory.

    Namath's guarantee prior to the game set the stage, and when the Jets and Baltimore Colts stepped onto the field at the Orange Bowl, there was no turning back.  In this game, the Jets were the underdogs as they went up against the mighty Johnny Unitas and the Colts.

    Apparently, Unitas and his Colts were not much of a threat to Walt Michaels and Buddy Ryan's defensive scheme, as the Jets defense was rock solid and the improbable upset occurred, with the Jets winning 16-7.  

    This was the Jets' first ever Super Bowl—they were the underdogs, and during their first trip to the "biggest game of the year" were able to come away with their first and only Super Bowl victory since the franchise's inception in 196.

    And it has been best game since then.

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