The triumph in San Diego can be attributed to many things: a gritty defense that dug in its heels and got better and better as the game wore on, the heady play of the Jets’ two rookies on offense, the Chargers’ troubles with yellow flags and field goals.
But don’t overlook the Jets’ long-standing tendency to act like a pit bull with a bone when they get a decent lead.
This statistic first surfaced during the wild-card win at Cincinnati, and the amazing trend continued through Southern California:
The Jets have won their last 60 games when they’ve gotten a lead of eight or more points in the fourth quarter.
That’s the longest current streak, playoffs included, in the NFL. And the Green & White’s .984 winning percentage (61-1) in those games since the start of 1999 is the league’s best in the last 11 seasons.
What does it all mean? Well, it doesn’t mean the Jets can’t be beaten. The category doesn’t consider all leads, just those of a touchdown and a deuce or more. And what about the games in which the team never went ahead in the final 15 minutes? That’s for another chart on another day.
This trend is related, for example, to the Yankees’ documented excellence in winning games that they lead from the eighth inning on.
Similarly, the Jets have shown themselves to be the masters of avoiding the bad blown lead, of taking a solid edge and putting it in their W bag.
Who can we thank for this tendency? Well, the only player who goes back to even the 2000 season is Shaun Ellis, and surely he deserves a small helping of the credit. As for coaches, Bob Sutton was also here for the start of the millennium and also gets a piece of the pie; all the others have moved on.
But coaching in general has a lot to say about getting leads late and then holding them with expert four-minute offense, some acceptable and effective version of prevent defense (gasp!) and field position provided by the specialists. It’s equal parts player skill, coaching strategy and strength/conditioning work done all off-season and into the year in anticipation of the fourth quarters to come.
So let’s throw some kudos to the head coaches who helped build this mammoth monument to grabbing a late lead and then playing the best keepaway in pro football. Bill Parcells (5-0) started the streak with that ’99 team that began with an ER-full of injuries and finished as the proverbial team not in the playoffs that nobody wanted to face.
The run continued through Al Groh (5-0) in 2000, Herm Edwards (24-0) from ’01-05 and Eric Mangini (17-0) in ’06-08.
And it’s alive and flourishing under first-year man Rex Ryan, whose Jets have won nine games without losing an eight-point lead in the fourth frame, including the last four wins in a row in which they’ve held double-digit advantages down the stretch: at Indianapolis, home for Cincinnati, at Paul Brown Stadium and on Sunday "the Murph."
Here are the winning-percentage and current-streak leaders in games with an eight-point-plus lead in the fourth quarter from 1999 to present:
|Record||W-L||Pct||Current Win Streak||Games|
|1. JETS||61-1||.984||1. JETS||60|
|2. Green Bay||82-2||.976||2. Baltimore||40|
|3. Indianapolis||98-3||.970||3. Atlanta||37|
|4. Atlanta||58-2||.967||4. Philadelphia||32|
|5. Baltimore||85-3||.966||5. San Diego||27|
|6. St. Louis||71-3||.959||6. Cincinnati||20|
Two final notes on the Jets’ big 6-0. The streak began after the ’99 team flew to Oakland, took a 20-10 lead into the last quarter against the Raiders, then fell to a Rich Gannon-led comeback, 24-23.
And while the Jets hold the current lead, they aren’t the only NFL team doing well at putting wins away. In fact, the Indianapolis Colts had built a 77-game streak in this category from 1999 until 2007, when they took a 20-10 lead on New England in the RCA Dome, then lost to the Patriots, 24-20. The Colts’ response was to reel off another 19-game streak, which is current and which they’ll take into Sunday’s AFC Championship Game vs. the Jets.
If either team grabs a 21-13 lead in the final 15 minutes, it will be interesting to see what happens from there.
From 60 Straight to 5 Straight
Fans of the Chargers and, to a lesser extent, the Bengals have been heard to complain about how the kicking of Nate Kaeding and Shayne Graham led to the Jets "lucking out" in their playoff victories. Nice try but the Jets have been victims of some missed kicks in the past as well. Errant field goals count just as much as do errant passes, coaches’ calls and officials’ rulings. They’re all part of the game we love.
But we will grant that it is a strange kicking drought that has helped the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game. With the Bengals’ Shayne Graham missing two kicks under 40 yards and the Chargers’ Nate Kaeding going 0-for-3, including a 36-yarder that snapped his streak of 69 successful tries under 40 yards, one might ask when the last time opponents were similarly off-target against the Jets.
The answer is that this is the first time opposing kickers have gone 0-for-5 or worse in two consecutive games in franchise history. There have been five other 0-for-5 stretches over three- or four-game spans. But since 1968, it’s happened only once before, in 1986 when Seattle’s Norm Johnson (0-for-1), Atlanta’s Mick Luckhurst (0-for-2) and Indianapolis’ Dean Biasucci (0-for-2) got the ankle collar from Games 9-11.
Different Football, Same Goal
Fans of the Jets and women’s soccer in the area can check out a story just posted today on some similarities between the Green & White and Sky Blue FC, the metro area’s franchise in Women’s Professional Soccer. The primary likeness: Sky Blue had a touch-and-go regular season but moved down the stretch from last place in the seven-team WPS to fourth and into the playoffs. Then they went on to win three games in 10 days to claim their first championship.
Congratulations to Sky Blue, whose rookie roster "asked the same question the Jets are asking: Why Not Us?"
Championship Week Begins
The Jets are gearing up for a big fan week before the team heads out to Indianapolis on Saturday. We’ll have a formal announcement of the schedule tonight or Wednesday, but here’s the first event of the week that we wanted you to know about today, because the appearance is tonight.
Wide receiver Wallace Wright and guard Rob Turner will be at the Jets Shop Store in Manhattan signing autographs from 6-8 p.m. tonight. The store is located at 437 Madison Ave. at 50th Street.
As a side benefit for fans at this event and through the week, those who use their MasterCard to purchase merchandise at the Jets Shop store or at jetsshop.com will receive 15 percent off their orders.
We’ll report on more Championship Week events soon on newyorkjets.com.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Eric Mangini, Herm Edwards, Indianapolis Colts, Rex Ryan, San Diego Chargers, Wallace Wright
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