Florham Park, N.J.- The Jets started out strong on defense, but sputtered on offense failing to score a touchdown and being forced to settle for field goals instead. Still they built what felt like a nice comfortable lead, especially considering the Vikings couldn’t get anything going offensively in the first half.
Jets fans have seen this movie before, about 6,487 times too many, but last night there was a special surprise ending the fans had been waiting for.
For a Jets fan to watch their team build a nice lead only to let their opponent hang around and make a comeback is what always provokes the disappointing sighs of, “same old Jets.”
Jets fans are used to seeing last night's game with a different ending, but Rex Ryan has surgically implanted a new identity into his team. (JetsInsider.com Photo).
And you best believe the stadium was echoing loudly with people muttering those three words over and over as the Vikings came back to make Jets fans sweat it out. What Jets fans aren’t used to, is the Jets finding a way to stop the bleeding, regrouping and finding a way to gut out a hard fought and well deserved victory, even if the victory should of been decided at halftime.
Forget about the entirety of the Jets history, let’s just go back to week one of this season, for awhile there it seemed all too similar.
Upon arriving at the stadium there was a gigantic black cloud that was swallowing every inch of clear sky as far as the eye could see. Then the thunder and lighting came, followed by the game being delayed and fans being ushered out of their seats and into the concourse of the stadium. There was no difference between this set up and the set up for the season opener against the Ravens, okay well maybe this storm seemed a bit more serious.
But the weather wasn’t the only reason this game felt like a re-run of the Ravens game. In both games the Jets defense came out strong making plays immediately, the offense had trouble finding a rhythm and got halted in their tracks far too often, but worst of all was the early penalties that killed some early offensive drives.
The Jets took a 9-0 halftime lead, but they should have been able to turn at least one of those three field goals into seven points instead of three, and there inability to do just that allowed the Vikings to hang around just enough to make this uncomfortably interesting.
After the Jets scored another field goal to extend their lead to 12-0, the Vikings finally struck as Favre dropped back and launched a perfectly placed deep bomb to Randy Moss as he caught the ball in stride just as his feet touched down in the end zone right at the sidelines. It wasn’t a lack a execution on the defense it was just a perfect pass and perfect route, and that’s what made it so scary.
When a team dominates the game the way the Jets were dominating the game, but can only build a marginal lead because of a failure to score touchdowns instead of field goals it often leads to breakdowns at the end that let the other team come back and steal a victory. But Jets fans know this, they have seen this far too many times and the fans in the stadium were bracing themselves for the inevitable.
Cue up the Vikings drive right after Shonn Greene’s 23-yard touchdown scamper that seemed to have put the game away for the Jets. After the Vikings had cut the Jets lead to 15-13 in the fourth quarter the Jets finally put together an offensive drive that ended with them reaching the end zone to take a 22-13 lead with about four and a half minutes left. But the game was anything but over and shame on any Jets fans who didn’t realize that.
One minute and twenty-one seconds later the Vikings had driven all the way down the field and scored another touchdown to cut the Jets lead to 22-20. Panic began to set in through out the crowd. Fans were yelling, screaming and cursing every chance they got, the ranting wasn’t even making sense at this point. Any outside observer unfamiliar with the Jets history would have been wondering what was wrong with these psychotic fans, what had happened to them throughout their lives to make them react in such a way.
As incoherent and nonsensical as some of the rants were, they still made perfect sense. It’s not that there wasn’t plenty of legitimate things for the fans to be aggravated about, it’s just that they were so mad and caught up in the, “Oh, God no, please not again,” factor that all their complaints were jumbled into one long never ending grunt.
When the Jets failed to complete a first down and had to punt the ball back to the Vikings with only 1:48 left in a 22-20 game the fans were bracing themselves for a Vikings field goal to steal this game. At least thats how Jets games normally end anyway.
But instead the ending turned out to be vintage Favre, not vintage Jets. Forget all the back-and-forth about Favre holding teams hostage, sending dirty pictures to sideline reporters or any of that, in 20 years none of that will matter. What will matter is Favre will be remembered as one of the best quarterbacks ever and anyone who wants to argue will find it a difficult task as soon as his numbers are mentioned. The one thing that really plagues Favre as a player is just what happened last night.
In order to get the Vikings back in the game Favre needed to play lights out and that’s exactly what he did for a short period of time. This is what Favre does, he made two beautiful touchdown passes that couldn’t of been thrown any better, he withstood the beating the Jets pass rush gave him, but ultimately after everything good he did, he did what he seems to do best.
He ended the game with a vintage Favre interception that Dwight Lowery returned for a touchdown to put the game away.
This was an ugly game, no doubt about it. There is still a lot for the Jets to clean up, but the important thing to remember is somehow the Jets managed to win the game.
Through 58 minutes of football the fans in the stadium were used to everything they were seeing. The Jets get their fans hopes up just so they could crush them with a brutal torturous loss, but with that Lowery pick-six a enormous sigh of relief was released from the fans inside the stadium and all the ones watching from their couch.
This was not a pretty game by any means, the Jets should have put the game away by halftime, but that’s just it. The Jets have a habit of not doing that, that also have a habit of completely collapsing and losing the game.
Not this time, not this team. If your a glass half empty kind of person, then you will have plenty of things to complain about from this game, but if you have been a Jets fan long enough you ought to be happy that for once the scare they put into their home fans was just a scare and not a loss. After all great teams have to be able to win in a variety of ways and winning ugly counts just as much as winning by a landslide.
The Jets of football past would of found a way to lose this game, late Favre interception or not, but this team is nothing like your typical Jets team and with a couple more games like this they might just be able to convince a large portion of their fan base to not always expect the worst.
Of course another couple of games like this and many of their fans might not make it out of the stadium with their sanity still intact.