After watching the Jets get thoroughly out played in the first half, especially seeing Shannon (or is it Stirling) Sharpe sit over the middle and always be wide open like every other NFL tight end has done this season, I wanted to jump off the mezzanine. The Jets were approaching the two-minute warning going into a biting Meadowlands wind. Chad goes to the bench to get the third-and-two play. The Jets must convert here. They certainly do not want to give Greise another chance with the ball and with the wind. Sure enough, the play that was called was another ridiculous Hackett invention. Obviously, some one did not get the message as Pennington threw the ball near no one and Laveranues Cole was streaking down the near sideline by himself. We all knew what happens next as the Broncos score in 1:36 minutes on 8 plays with the rookie Lelie scoring easily from 10 yards. The Jets got the ball for one play and Pennington found Coles for about 30 yards to fatten up his halftime stats and makes the game look, on paper, closer than of course that it is.
So, as usual with a 13-6 Jets halftime deficit, I automatically get up from my plastic cold seat fuming and head to the ramp to disgorge my anger on my partner, who, as always, will reassure me that the Jets are still in the game, will make certain adjustments and will finally stop someone besides New Dorp High on third down. When I get to our normal spot, he is not there. This has not happened in over 15 years. There, in his place stood his nephew. It was not the same. Then it hits me. He is in China WORKING! How dare he leave me alone? Why couldn't he have a normal job? Instead, he has to be in the rag business with its deep roots in China. I am too, but I, like a good observant Jew, don't travel on Sunday unless it's to a Jet game. I accepted that we would not be doing the things that we normally do while following this franchise for so many years. Then the cell phone rings. Don't you just love modern technology? He's calling from a hotel room in Shanghai on Monday morning and is watching the CNN ticker. He says that it is 6-6, I tell him of the last drive and then he gives me all the same banal hope that he always does. Sheepishly, I now can retreat to my seat (and listen to the jakking of the ol' lady) hoping for a Jet turn around.
Well it happened. Thank G-d for that great catch of Lavaranues. Santana Moss was on the field to help. His mere presence certainly was important for Coles and Chrebet to get open. He did not look 100% but it was enough. The return finally of Dave Szott helped Curtis get some of those much-needed tough yards. If only Anthony Becht had caught that gimme in the end zone, we could have all gone home earlier. Instead, a stout bend-but-do-not-break defense without Aaron Beasley gamely held on. John Abraham had a great game. All day he got close and bothered Greise. Without him, we could officially been declared to have NO pass rush. Marvin Jones was in on an unbelievable 17 tackles. Even though Denver converted on 9 of 15 third down opportunities, the important one in the Fourth Quarter with Portis going off tackle was unsuccessful. Of course, then, on the only fourth down try, we stopped Griese for no gain. Yes, Jon McGraw was the hero, but this time the Jets really made some great second half adjustments. It seemed that everyone on defense raised their game a little and the Jets held on.
We have to be optimistic now. It looks like it could be a helluva Christmas. After yesterday's victory, as long as we stay focused on the next game, we've got a shot at playing in January. Let's give thanks for some really great efforts against Denver as well as some equally necessary LUCK. Next week is a tough game somewhere on the campus of the University of Illinois. The last time that the Jets played at a college was in Clemson, South Carolina during the second year of the Carolina Panthers franchise history. Later in the first half, that great Jet (and thankfully only one-season quarterback) Bubby Brister attempted a shovel pass and a Panther linebacker caught it and walked in the end zone. That play ended a promising season, even though it was only October.
There will be no road trip to Chicago then on to Champaign, where ever that is. My partner always makes the travel plans. Without him, who is heading to the Great Barrier Reef (or some strange Outback Steakhouse location), I am left to write this column alone and bite my nails until Sunday, trying not to get over confident in knowing that da' Bears running back is Leon Johnson, our favorite ex-Jet. If his knees weren't blown out, he could have been a Hall of Fame Special Teams player. When he was healthy, which he is not any longer, he was as good as Santana at punt returns and as good as Chad Morton on kick-off returns. He, not Gerald Sowell, would have also set the record for most special teams tackles. He was that good. But now he is a shadow of his former self.
This year it is different. Our quarterback is our own, is constantly improving and is a good, but probably not, great quarterback. As long as we surround him with good talent, we will be competitive with him at the helm for years to come. These last two games against some real quality opponents solidified our views that Chad is now irrevocably a quality starting NFL quarterback. The Jets will be able to play with any NFL team at any time, however we must not look past Chicago.
If anyone has any comments to the above, please e-mail us at Dexlev123@aol.com.
P.S. Even though this is a Jet column, our vote for Coach of the year has to go to Jim Fassel. We cannot believe that he was coaching for his job against Washington. He takes 6-8 quality players and a bunch of ragamuffins that would NOT even be invited to the Jets training camp, and has the same record as the Jets 7-6. What a job he has done with an average quarterback, decent wide outs and a porous offensive (in every sense of the word) line. He loses defensive player after player and still never gets blown out. What a job!!!