When the New York Jets fell to the Houston Texans 24-17 on November 22nd, the promise a 3-1 start gave to the fan base had all but evaporated.
At 5-5, everything had to go right in order for the Jets to even sniff the playoffs. A 38-20 drubbing of the dysfunctional Dolphins got New York back on track, but it looked like the season would be lost down 10 with 8:50 to go in the 4th quarter against the Giants on December 6th.
The Giants had a 4th and 2 from the Jets 4-yard line and a chance to kick a field goal to put the Jets in a 13-point deficit needing a minimum of two touchdowns to have a shot at winning the game.
You could make the argument a Giants field goal in that spot wouldn’t have made any difference, but the Jets would have looked at that as a semi-partial victory, as opposed to the major one that ensued.
Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning decided to go for the kill and Manning ended up throwing the ball right to Rontez Miles for an interception. In the blink of an eye, the tide had turned, and the momentum had swung drastically in the Jets favor.
With new-found life, Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a field goal to make it a one score game, and then with 27 seconds left, found Brandon Marshall in the end zone to tie the game. The Jets went on to win in overtime. Season temporarily saved.
Then last Sunday against the Patriots, there was another season altering call that swung in favor of the Jets. Once leading 17-3, the Patriots came storming back, and a Tom Brady touchdown pass to James White with 1:55 to play knotted the score at 20 all heading into overtime.
As is usual with the Patriots, special teams and coin toss aficionado Matthew Slater did what he always seems to do, win the coin toss. That’s exactly what he did, but instead of deciding to tell arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game to go win it in Tom Brady, Slater, supposedly under the direction of Bill Belichick, chose to tell his severely banged up defense to get a stop.
That allowed the Jets offense to start with the ball, and they would take full advantage. Fitzpatrick wasted no time driving 80 yards in just five plays, capped by an Eric Decker 6-yard touchdown catch to end it.
From a Patriots perspective, I guess you could rationalize that if the defense got one stop when they needed one, Brady would have had the game in the bag, but when you have the GOAT playing QB, how can you not give him the ball?
And from a Jets perspective, after watching Brady tie the game minutes earlier, the feeling was the Patriots were going to receive, drive down the field, win the game, and officially end any chance Gang Green had at making the playoffs, but Belichick played it right into the Jets’ hands.
Now, thanks to a unfathomable loss by the Steelers to the Ravens who seem to be pulling guys off the street, all the Jets need is a win over the Rex Ryan led Buffalo Bills on Sunday to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since the 2010 season.
And you can bet the Jets could not have envisioned this scenario if Coughlin had just taken the points, and Belichick had just taken the ball.