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Recalling Four Upsets of Decades Past

Posted by Randy Lange on November 17, 2007 – 2:49 pm

There is one positive, albeit esoteric, streak the Jets would like to extend Sunday against Pittsburgh, and it is this: For the fifth consecutive decade, they would like to defeat an opponent that entered the game with a record at least six wins better than the Jets.

I can hear you now: Grasping at straws, Lange. But it gives me a chance to dive into my historical spreadsheets for you, and at the same time subtly provide a few reasons to believe the Jets (1-8) can knock off the tough-as-nails Steelers (7-2).

It is true that exactly once each in the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, the Jets stunned such a superlative foe. (They’ve also lost 14 other games vs. six-wins-better challengers over the years.) Three of the four once-in-a-decade upsets came at home (although none was played at the Meadowlands) and all four opponents were handed their unexpected defeats on their way to playoff berths.

Dec. 19, 1965 — JETS 14, Buffalo 12 (at Shea Stadium)

In the last game of Joe Namath’s rookie season, he and the Jets (4-8-1) had a surprise for the visiting Bills, who came in at 10-2-1 and a week later would blank the Chargers for the ’65 AFL title. Joe Willie hit Don Maynard with a 19-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and a 36-yarder in the third to keep ahead of Buffalo, which stayed close on two Charley Warner TDs but failed on a pair of two-point conversion tries.

Nov. 29, 1970 — JETS 20, Minnesota 10 (at Shea Stadium)

The Vikings, who came to New York at 9-1, lost only once over their last 11 regular-season games en route to the first-ever NFC Central title, and it was to the injury-riddled Jets (3-7), two seasons removed from their Super Bowl triumph but still feisty. They never trailed the Vikes as George Nock ran for one touchdown, George Sauer caught a TD strike from Al Woodall for another and Jim Turner hit two field goals.

Nov. 23, 1980 — JETS 31, Houston 28, OT (at Shea Stadium)

This was supposed to be the Jets’ year. Instead, they opened 0-5 and never recovered. When the 8-3 Oilers came to Shea, the 2-9 Jets opened with a bang — a Ken Schroy INT-return TD that got them started on a 21-0 lead that they took into the fourth quarter. The Oilers struck back with four TD strikes by Ken Stabler, the last two to former Jet Rich Caster. But Bruce Harper’s scoring catch from Richard Todd helped get the game to overtime, from where Pat Leahy pulled it out with a 38-yard FG.

Dec. 6, 1992 — Jets 24, BUFFALO 17 (at Rich Stadium)

Another season gone horribly wrong as the Jets struggled to western New York with a 3-9 record one week after DE Dennis Byrd was paralyzed to take on the 9-3 Bills. Something uplifting happened in the second half this day as Brad Baxter ran for two third-quarter touchdowns to give the visitors a 17-10 lead. Then after Jim Kelly-to-Pete Metzelaars tied it, safety Brian Washington broke the tie on a 23-yard INT-return score with 1:41 to play.

Who will be the heroes and what will be the particulars of an upset of the Steelers? That chapter remains to be written, but if the Jets kick off their return from their bye week with a Sunday stunner, they’ll get to try to repeat the feat four days later when they travel to Dallas for a Thanksgiving game against the Cowboys, who will be 9-1 or 8-2 after playing the Redskins.


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Posted in Randy Lange | 11 Comments »


11 Responses to “Recalling Four Upsets of Decades Past”

  1. By Ira on Nov 17, 2007 | Reply

    Randy, Way to go you now you sound like me. I said Jets 24 – Steelers 20 earlier in the week. Why not? Steelers are prime for a let down. Thanks for bringing back great memories of those other games. The heroes will be Clemens, Washington, Revis and Rhodes. Particulars will be Jets force turnovers and ST’s. This game could get added to your list. GO JETS!!!

  2. By Ira on Nov 17, 2007 | Reply

    Too bad about Tutt. About time they gave Trusnik a chance. This kid will get to the QB. Lets see some more of the younger players.

  3. By tom stapleton on Nov 17, 2007 | Reply

    This is typical jets who cares if they win or lose this game the season is over!!! Is this really what the jets have come to? We truly are the loveable losers! Thanks jets for another sobbing sorry pathetic year way to go! Always next year right? Oh and upset I’ll give you a upset how bout 1-8 thats good enough

  4. By Rod on Nov 18, 2007 | Reply

    Typical Jets is right. A win now would mean nothing. If we are going to be good fans then lets root for whats best, wich is loose the rest of the season. The only game i hope we win is against the Pats, wether they are undefeated or not. That would be a true upset. Then again barely making 1-8 is truely upsetful. The Pats game is the only game left that Jets fan care about. The rest is irrelevant.

  5. By Rich on Nov 18, 2007 | Reply

    Okay, you’ve got my attention. What about the 14 they lost? How many at home and how many away?

  6. By troy on Nov 18, 2007 | Reply

    hey Tom,a real fan cares about there team winning no matter what the circumstances are.Dont watch if its that bad for you.Thier is no other team i would rather watch than my JETS winning or losing.as for the game today I have a good feeling everything comes together,the bye week did the whole team incl. coaches some good.Its not like theve been getting smoked,a play or two in 5-6 games rec 6-3

  7. By TOM MILELR on Nov 18, 2007 | Reply

    Changing to a QB that has little or no experience in the league doesn’t seem
    to me a wise decision unless your team has given up on this season and getting some experience for the Jet’s Future… It is two fold, experience and high draft pick in 1st round….

  8. By Randy Lange on Nov 18, 2007 | Reply

    Rich, the Jets lost six of those 14 games on the road, eight at home, including the last four — to Philadelphia and Miami at the end of the 1996 season and to New England in ’03 and ’05.

  9. By Drew on Nov 18, 2007 | Reply

    The outcome of today means little to our season… with that said the Jets cannot go out today and get crushed. I could care less if they win or not. I want to build some momentum for the last couple of games “NE game” and then reload for next year. Let’s see if the bye week gave the O-line and B-Schott some time to become men and play aggressive football. Pitt is a great test for our manhood.

  10. By Jeremy on Nov 18, 2007 | Reply

    How bad is the defense going to be today? PARKER is going to destroy this defense–This could easily be a 200 yard game for him. If SUTTON doesn’t get fired this offseason, I’m going to cry! There better be some MAJOR HOUSECLEANING after this season. JETS we’re eliminated from the playoffs after 9 games, 9 games—STELLAR CHOACHING THIS YEAR—–GOOD LUCK NEXT YEAR BOYS!!! HOPE LC and TJ stay!

  11. By tom stapleton on Nov 18, 2007 | Reply

    Troy i didnt say i wouldnt watch the jets i love the jets just as much as you but i’m sick of having that horrible feeling in my stomach after a season like this!!! The win is exciteable but as always we have to wait till next year and troy i’m a season ticket holder i love this team with all my heart but i’m sick of it being broken by this team!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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