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JOHN SCHMITT: Paying Back the Raiders

Posted by jetsstaff on January 22, 2010 – 2:22 pm

This week we’re bringing you a trio of voices from the Jets’ championship past, three players who played in the three AFL/AFC title games in franchise history. Today, John Schmitt, Joe Namath’s center, reflects on the 1968 Jets, who came from behind to defeat Oakland at home for the penultimate AFL Championship, then proceeded to rock the football world in Super Bowl III.

The game against the Raiders was big not because it was the AFL Championship Game but because they had beaten us in the Heidi Game. We were ahead by three points with a minute and seven seconds to go in that game and we lost by 11.

Four weeks later we got to play the Raiders in New York City for the AFL Championship at Shea Stadium. Needless to say, we wanted to get even for what they did to us in that game. We ended up winning, 27-23. That game, No. 1, it was freezing, it was 10, 15 below zero wind-chill factor. And then that game was more physical and tougher on us than the Super Bowl game was. We hated Oakland and they hated us and we just wanted to kill each other and we did.

The biggest memory in all honesty, the score was 27-23 and they were coming down the field like our defense wasn’t there. They got to about the 20-yard line and they threw this lateral pass that went backwards and Hewritt Dixon dropped the ball and Ralph Baker picked it up and that’s how the game ended. I can still see Ralph back there picking up that fumble and running with it. He couldn’t advance it. He did advance it — he brought it back to the end zone but it didn’t count because the rules back then were that you couldn’t advance a lateral fumble. That was the most exciting thing.

The scariest thing, of course, was seeing them come down the field. Daryle Lamonica couldn’t miss anybody. From their 18 they went straight down the field in like a minute and a half. I said, "Oh, my God, here we go." But the Lord was with us and Ralph made a great play and the rest was history.

After the game, the satisfaction of beating Oakland was just unbelievable. I don’t remember ever beating Oakland while I was with the Jets. We may have but I don’t remember. To beat them to the AFL Championship game and to be able to think about "Hey, we’re going to the Super Bowl." Of course, that wasn’t such a good feeling because then it was all about ‘Uh-oh, we’re going against the Colts."

Football is not just Xs and Os. It’s about believing in yourself, believing in your coach, believing in your quarterback, believing in the leaders of your team. When we played in the championship game, we had an offensive line that played together for five years. That can’t ever happen now with free agency but you have an offensive line that’s been together for two years and that’s really important, especially when you have a rookie quarterback. There’s no guessing on that offensive line. If your right tackle makes a step to the right or your right guard makes a step to the right, they’re all in sync. Those guys play together as good as any offensive line in football today. They are playing super. They are just a terrific bunch.

The defensive unit, they don’t care, they don’t get upset. One-two-three-kick, one-two-three-kick, and they’re back in there just like last week. They don’t get upset, they’re just out there playing and somewhere along the line one of them comes out with the big play. I think they really believe in each other, they trust each other. And they trust in their coach. Rex has done a great job with that team.

I believe the Jets can win Sunday at Indianapolis. Is there any guarantee? Should we be favored going in? No. Manning is unbelievable. You take Manning out of that mix, the Colts are just an average team. With him on the field, he’s a commander, he’s really a coach and a quarterback and we have to make sure we hold onto the ball, we grind it out and keep the ball for eight or nine minutes because it only takes him two minutes to score.

We have to keep Manning on the bench and us on the field. If we can do that, then we can win that game. We have as good a chance as anybody to win.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “JOHN SCHMITT: Paying Back the Raiders”

  1. By Ira on Jan 22, 2010 | Reply

    Its seems like a lifetime ago since that Raiders game. I thought for sure the Raiders were going in for the lead before baker came up with the ball. Schmitt is right on about holding on to the ball. Key is they need to put up TD’s and not settle for FG’s. Plus i think they will need a big D play to score or set up a score and or a ST play to get pts. Glad to seee Murrell will play.

  2. By 36 year fan on Jan 22, 2010 | Reply

    And The Lord will be with us again on Sunday. Football is a Game of inches. And it might come down to that on Sunday. But somehow The Jets advance to The Superbowl.

  3. By Frank on Jan 22, 2010 | Reply

    Keys to winning this game. Rex will need to confuse Manning I would start Revis at safety and move Rhodes into Revis spot and I would change up the secondary on every series so Manning will not be able to identify coverages. We already know Rex will blitz everyone at any time. Second Colts D is undersized but fast we need to run the ball behind Mangold and Moore on quick plays up the gut.

  4. By Vic on Jan 22, 2010 | Reply

    John is one of the classiest former Jets I have ever met, so please listen to what he has to say. Recently, I ran into John on LI, he was so gracious, as he handed his Super Bowl ring to my son to try on.

    Go John and Go JETS!

  5. By Kyle Richardson on Jan 22, 2010 | Reply

    Vic, John is one of my favorite interviews from the ’68 Jets, and I know Kyle was impressed with “Mr. Schmitt” after his phone conversation.

  6. By Jacquie on Jan 22, 2010 | Reply

    You’re not going to find a classier Jet player-current or former! You’re also not going to find someone who has more faith working in his favor-he knows what he’s talking about, and he believes in this coach and this team. If there was one thing I could give my Dad (yes he is my father) in his lifetime, it would be a Jet Super Bowl win- GO JETS!

  7. By Dennis on Jan 22, 2010 | Reply

    Thank you John Schmitt.I watched the Jets defeat the also hated K.C. Chiefs 21 to 20 in the first contest of 1968 I was in Toledo, OH. during Heidi;went to Mexico for a time and passed San Diego with the stadium lights on and the Jets victorious.I got a job in a resort in Solvang,Ca. and watched the Jets defeat the Raiders on TV (blacked out in NY)50 fans in the dayroom heard my cheers for NY!

  8. By coat on Jan 23, 2010 | Reply

    thank you for chiming in Jacqui as much as your father would love for that gift to be delivered I bet it brings a tear to his eye just reading what YOU wrote on the site Thanks and GO JETS

  9. By Jack on Jan 23, 2010 | Reply

    John’s memory is not quite accurate. I was at the game. The Jets never trailed until the 4th quarter, when Namath threw an interception to George Atkinson and returned it to the 1 yard line. The Raiders scored on the next play to take their first lead at 23-20. Jets got the ball back and scored 3 plays later to go up 27-23. The Raider’s next drive never crossed mid field

  10. By Carolyn on Jan 24, 2010 | Reply

    I agree with Jacquie, John is a classy former Jet player along with Ralph.They continue to support the Jets through thick and thin. As Ralph’s daughter I have always been a Jets fan which isn’t easy in “Patriots Nation”. I enjoyed watching the rerun of super bowl 3 with my kids and they saw their Pap-Pap recover a fumble which led to a score!
    GO JETS!

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