At 3:50pm, the cell phone rang as we were driving to the Meadowlands. The call was from 11-year old Cody Cohen (who, on occasion, has been known to give incorrect scores) to inform our group of 7 driving in the Suburban that Cleveland had just taken the lead and Miami was in control with an 11-point lead and a little more than 5 minutes to go in that contest. He also wanted to know if there was still a way that the Jets could make the playoffs if Cleveland and Miami won. "No Way", the crowd of 7 chanted in unison. We asked Cody to verify the scores, and he read them off of the ticker as he watched the Miami –Pats game with his Grandfather in Fort Lauderdale. Cynthia Levy, the only female in the Suburban, wanted to know why we were even bothering to attend this game as it was clear that the season was over. She even contemplated scalping her ticket. In fact, it didn't seem all that exciting to any of us as we pulled into our off-the premises parking lot and prepared ourselves for the fifteen minute walk along scenic Route 120, or better known to many as Moonachie Avenue.
The gas station where we normally park was empty. Did everyone stay at home thinking that this game was meaningless? Did Cynthia have a point? The attendant at the gas station informed us that due to police, HMDC and other beaurocratic nonsense, including being fined $2000 yesterday during the Giants game for allowing parking without proper permits, he would no longer allow parking at his station. What else could go wrong? A further update as we pulled out of the station and headed to the main parking lots had Cleveland up 24-16 and Miami still leading by 11.
Traffic was horrendous as we tried to wiggle our way into one of the lots by the Continental Arena. Would we miss kick-off? At this point, the mood was sullen and nobody really cared. Optimism was fading. No parking. No cooperation from the Pats or the Falcons. A typical ending to a roller coaster Jet season.
As traffic backed up along the Continental Arena drive, a decision was made. Park anywhere whether it is legal or illegal. We need to get to the game. A few cars had already parked along Route 120 on the grass and it was not a challenge for the 4-wheel drive Suburban to get over the curb and position itself in the snow and mud. We parked near the tunnel, which carries the masses across Route 120 from the Arena parking lot to the stadium. The mood was somber as most fans knew what was happening in Cleveland and Foxboro. At some point, maybe around 4pm, just as we were exiting the tunnel a wild cheer could be heard. New England scored!! They were down three. Hope re-entered the equation. Yogi is always right…"it ain't over till it's over". Growing up, our coaches always said "you play the game till the end because you never know what could happen". I think the great football announcer, Ray Scott once said, "on any given Sunday, anything can, and will, happen". The Patriots tied the game. Hope lives on. The stadium felt the emotion and rocked like it never has before. The players sensed the opportunity. The coaches pounced on the emotion. The game, 42-17 speaks for itself.
What a wonderfully complete football game. The Jets were cooking on all cylinders. Chad Pennington had his second straight strong game. Curtis with 83 easy yards ran well behind Dave Szott and the rest of the solid offensive line. The three wide receivers all had great separation and Chad could pick Laveranues out very easily as he finished with a team high 89 receptions. Even Herm looked attentive to the action on the field.
The defense was always in Brett Favres' face. The Packer tackles were substitutes so that it was there that Ellis and Abraham attacked and excelled throughout the afternoon. After Donald Driver went out, Terry Glenn alone did not offer much resistance to our now hard-hitting secondary.
It is very difficult to find any faults here especially after Santa blessed the Meadowlands. He apparently dropped some magic dust over the swampland as he approached Teterboro. Since Christmas, the Nets blew away the Celts, the Devils won in overtime and the Fassel-led Giants beat the #1 seeded Eagles. It had to be our day on Sunday.
We missed the first quarter because everyone was watching and listening to the Miami-Patriots game. What a moment when Adam Vinatieri kicked the second and winning field goal. It was truly our New Years Eve. It does not get any better than 3 hours of euphoria in New Jersey on a lovely, calm December evening.
Now it's on to Peyton and Marvin. We have no fear. We are a well-oiled fighting machine. If the Giants can score 44 points at Indy the week before, then how many will the Jets be able to put on the board in their house? It is going to be a great week just thinking about the prospects. The team has to stay focused and be well prepared, otherwise they can be in for a rude awakening and a major letdown. The Colts are professionals and are preparing for this contest as much as the Jets are readying themselves.
A new season begins this Saturday and anything can happen. The hottest team seems to move ahead in the NFL in these modern times. The experts say that dynasties are over and parody is in. Who cares? It is an exciting brand of football. It is energizing and emotional to watch the Green and White play their brand of football. Chad Pennington to Coles. Martin running strong. Chrebet slanting over the middle. Tough defense. Strong special teams. The idea of the Meadowlands not being a home turf for the Jets is history. The fans and the team made sure of that on Sunday, now it is time for the media to get on the positive bandwagon and praise the team for its efforts and winning ways at home and in December.
We are not sure what words we will be utilizing next week, but whatever the outcome of the 1st round of the playoffs will be the Jets deserve a great deal of credit for showing patience, poise and persistence in a season when most, not all fans and followers gave up in them way back in October.
J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS!
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