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'Same old Jets' wasn't always an insult: Remembering team's last playoff victory | Oral history of 2010 AFC Divisional Playoffs win over Patriots

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'Same old Jets' wasn't always an insult: Remembering team's last playoff victory | Oral history of 2010 AFC Divisional Playoffs win over Patriots

By Matt Stypulkoski | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com | Posted December 27, 2018 at 06:30 AM | Updated December 27, 2018 at 06:46 AM
 
By Matt Stypulkoski | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

It's a phrase that's dogged a franchise for generations.

"Same old Jets."

But just a short eight years ago, the Jets believed they were on the fast track to the Super Bowl. They were buoyed by the belief of a run to the AFC Championship Game a season prior. So suddenly, those words took on a different meeting, thanks to a brash head coach determined to change the organization's decades-long narrative of heartbreak and failure.

A massive road win against the bully next door -- the dynastic New England Patriots -- remains one of the most memorable days in team history. And it sparked a new phrase, too. 

"CAN'T WAIT!"

That 28-21 victory -- the one that propelled linebacker Bart Scott and the Jets to a second-straight AFC title game -- was about far more than a two-word rallying cry and millions of YouTube views. It backed up the bravado. It became the high-water mark for the young quarterback attached to that head coach's hip. And it gave a tortured fan base a rare chance to bask in postseason success.

More than anything, it briefly rebranded the Jets as winners.

But that game is also memorable for what it was not: The start of something. The Jets haven't won a playoff game since that frigid day in Foxborough -- nor have they even reached another postseason. Instead, an eight-year drought hangs over everything the franchise does as it tries to rebuild around a new young quarterback from Southern Cal. 

As the Jets prepare to finish out a third-straight season with double-digit losses -- against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, no less -- NJ Advance Media spoke to a dozen people who were in the stadium for that game. Coaches, players, fans and reporters in attendance all provided new details about one of the organization's proudest moments. 

This is the story of that day in their words.

The Buildup

The Jets beat the Colts, 17-16, on a last-second field goal in the AFC Wild-Card Game to set up a meeting with the Patriots in the divisional round. The teams split their regular-season series, with the Jets winning at MetLife Stadium in Week 2 and the Patriots winning at Gillette Stadium on Monday Night Football in Week 13.

The Patriots entered the postseason as the AFC’s top seed at 14-2. The Jets were seeded sixth after finishing 11-5.

JERRICHO COTCHERY, wide receiver: When we lost to them up there, 45-3, we felt like it was for the division.

JEFF WEEKS, outside linebackers coach: We’re sitting at 9-2 and they’re 9-2 and then we go into New England and man, (Patriots quarterback Tom) Brady didn’t miss. It was just one of those days. 

ANTONIO CROMARTIE, cornerback: We didn't get beat physically, we lost because we weren’t there mentally.

DAMIEN WOODY, offensive lineman: Rex (Ryan, head coach) just wouldn't let it go, how we got embarrassed and that just wasn't us. 

WEEKS: We buried the football. We went outside, brought the whole team out, said, ‘We’re not going to watch the tape, we’re not going to do anything.’ Dug a big ditch – just enough to get the ball in there – threw the ball in there, buried it and said let’s go forward.

REX RYAN, head coach, speaking after playoff win vs. Patriots: We thought we were the better team. Now, clearly that Monday night game, we weren’t – they were clearly head-and-shoulders better than we were. 

COTCHERY: I remember Coach Rex just mentioning that we were going to see them again and I think everybody kind of agreed with him when he made that statement.

JENNY VRENTAS, Jets reporter for The-Star Ledger: With that team, you just felt like once they got in the playoffs that anything was possible. 

RYAN, during postgame press conference: I knew that if we applied ourselves and we played the way that we’re capable of playing, then we could beat them.

MIKE WESTHOFF, special teams coordinator: We obviously weren’t a quarterback-driven team, but Mark (Sanchez) was efficient enough with the people that he had around him that we could beat anybody. 

WOODY: You can say what you want about Sanchez, but the one thing that you can't deny is that he was big-time in the postseason.

CROMARTIE: He played better. I just think he made better decisions. I mean, he lived for those moments and those big ballgames.

VRENTAS: After they lost in the AFC Championship Game the previous year, they made a bunch of moves. They got Cromartie, they got (wide receiver Santonio) Holmes, they signed (edge rusher) Jason Taylor, (running back) LaDainian Tomlinson and they bring in (defensive lineman) Trevor Pryce. 

RYAN, during postgame press conference: (General manager) Mike Tannenbaum really built this team for this time of year.

VRENTAS: It felt like they were just loading up on a bunch of guys that would make one last push, one strong push for the Super Bowl.

COTCHERY: We always had great coaching and that staff right there – in particular offensively – was awesome in having us prepared for games.

CALVIN PACE, defensive end: It’s not talked about enough, but (Ryan) is literally a defensive genius.

WEEKS: Rex Ryan has probably given Tom Brady and (Patriots coach Bill) Belichick more fits than another other coach.

VRENTAS: And because Rex had always made it kind of personal with Belichick, whenever they played under Rex’s tenure, you always felt like the intensity was heightened because of that. 

In the leadup to that Sunday’s game, the intensity spilled over into a war of words. Cromartie kicked it off with a profanity-laced rant about Brady, which was reported by The Daily News on Wednesday. 

VRENTAS: It was a weird week because the Jets approached the Patriots unlike a lot of teams do. They weren’t afraid to trash talk, they weren’t afraid to stir things up a little.

CROMARTIE: When we got beat 45-3, Brady was pointing over to our sideline and … I got asked a question about it. And during that I was just like “Eff Tom Brady.”

MIKE DEVITO, defensive end: I always appreciated that about Rex and Cromartie and Bart Scott and those guys. It was like, we’re not going to fake this. We know they’re in their locker room saying the same thing, but they’re just putting on a front for the media.

Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker shot back on Thursday by taking thinly veiled shots at Ryan’s reported foot fetish during a press conference.

CHRISTOPHER PRICE, reporter for Boston sports-radio station WEEI: As it was going on, I don’t believe any of us were aware of what he was doing. You go back and you look at the transcript and you look at the tape and go, “Goddamn, did he really do what I think he just did?”

DEVITO: We laughed about it because your leader laughs about it. Rex doesn’t care. He owns it.

VRENTAS: I just remember thinking, “Belichick is going to hate this.” Because that’s not how they operate ever. Obviously he didn’t like it. I mean, that whole thing was absurd. Belichick benched Welker (for the first series).

GREG BEDARD, NFL writer for The Boston Globe: Belichick had said something to the team like, “Don’t engage in the war of words with these guys. Don’t even let it get started.” Welker – probably in a sign of the Patriots not exactly taking these Jets very seriously – just went out and violated it and poked the bear.

DEVITO: You can’t find two teams that hate each other more than the Pats and the Jets. Then with Rex and Cromartie and all of those guys saying what they were saying, it just ratcheted up the whole week that much more.

VRENTAS: That was the personality of the team and it just really worked. Rex really hit all of the right emotional buttons that week.

PACE: I’ll never forget the night before, with Dennis Byrd talking to us.

Byrd was a defensive lineman for the Jets from 1989-1992. His career ended when he was paralyzed by a collision with a teammate on the field. He eventually re-learned how to walk through rehabilitation.

VRENTAS: Dennis Byrd sends (the Jets) his jersey with a note to give to Rex that says, “If I can come back from that, you can certainly go to New England and win.” Then Rex said, “I’m not delivering this message, I want him to deliver this message.”

DEVITO: We played the clip of him getting hurt, so it really set the stage for it. You got to see – you had that visceral, emotional reaction to what he went through. 

PACE: It wasn’t a rah-rah speech, it wasn’t a ‘go get them for the Gipper’ kind of thing. It was just talking.

DEVITO: It was just his presence, him being there. 

PACE: He talked a lot about playing with heart, playing with passion, playing for the man beside you. 

DEVITO: Guys had tears in their eyes when we were leaving that ballroom there at the hotel, getting ready to go to bed that night. That was a powerful experience.

PACE: I just remember leaving that meeting and just knowing we were going to win.

VRENTAS: Then (Byrd) comes out with the players for the coin toss, carrying the jersey.

DEVITO: We went out there with a chip on our shoulder because he had us so motivated.

The Game

The Jets were forced to punt on the game’s opening drive, handing the ball to Brady, who entered the game on an NFL-record streak of 335 passes without an interception. He completed three of his first four passes to push the Patriots across midfield.

WOODY, sidelined by torn Achilles: The Patriots do really good job of screens and they do a good job of disguising it.

PACE: I was rushing up the field and by the time I got somewhat close, I was like, ‘Oh man, it’s a screen.’ But then when I turned around, David Harris was picking it off.

WOODY: Tom threw a layup.

PACE: If David had been a little bit faster, it would have been a touchdown. Alge Crumpler ran him down from the other side of the field.

IRA LIEBERFARB, Jets fan in attendance: (Patriots fans) were stunned. 

BEDARD: It gave the Jets life. (The Patriots) weren’t in “trouble” at that point, but you definitely knew something was going on. This isn’t a good sign.

COTCHERY: When you have plays happen like that, that just confirms everything in your mind and that created a lot of energy for us as a team.

WEEKS: Three plays, we have to kick a field goal. (Kicker Nick) “Folk hero” misses the damn field goal. 

WOODY: We were a veteran team, so it wasn't any panic on the sideline or anything like that.

PACE: We had been in those situations where the offense, we gave them the ball and they hadn’t done anything or they might turn it right back over.

COTCHERY: That's kind of weird to feel sometimes when you don’t capitalize on stuff. But that’s just how we felt as a team.

The Patriots kicked a field goal to take a 3-0 lead on the ensuing drive. But the Jets answered by going 54 yards on five plays and went up 7-3 on a 7-yard pass to Tomlinson. 

WOODY: He was on the back end of his career, but there's some things that LaDainian could always do, probably getting up out of bed – and one of the things he could do was just catch the ball.

COTCHERY: The play was coached up well throughout the preparation leading up to that game. We knew that we could get him to the flat and create a little room for him. 

The Jets’ lead held late into the second quarter, when the Patriots tried a fake punt from their own 38 with 1:14 remaining.

PACE: You snap that ball right to (Patrick Chung). He makes that play a thousand times. But today, for whatever reason, he drops the ball.

COTCHERY: They usually get those type of things. To see them have that type of error on special teams, it just felt like our day.

BEDARD: It eventually came out that Chung saw a certain look and called for the fake punt where, in that situation … that’s just something that the Patriots can’t do.

WEEKS: We thought it was pretty crazy. 

WESTHOFF: I felt like I could beat (Belichick) every time. Most of the time I did. Sometimes he got me, but not very often. But he wasn’t going to beat me with that play – please, give me a break.

CROMARTIE: That was another momentum change because we ended up scoring on that drive to go up 14-3. 

The Jets needed just four plays and 33 seconds to pad their lead, capped by a 15-yard pass from quarterback Mark Sanchez to wide receiver Braylon Edwards just before halftime.

PRICE: I remember just this impending sense of dread in the stadium that, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to go.”

WOODY: He basically caught a simple slant pattern and he dragged two people into the end zone. That was the identity of our team. We wanted to just bully people around.

CROMARTIE: That’s one thing about Braylon, man, he was a physical specimen. He could out-physical anybody. 

PACE: The scary part was you still have arguably the greatest quarterback ever on the other side. So it was kind of like, “Man, can we be on point for another half?”

WOODY: Guys knew that we can't get overly emotional – we have to make sure that we understand that we haven't accomplished anything yet. 

The two teams traded punts to start the third quarter. But when the Patriots got the ball for a second time, the Jets’ pass rush – which totaled five sacks – dialed up the pressure.

WESTHOFF: I know Rex felt really good about his plan. I remember he came in, sat one night and was showing it to me and talking about it and he was excited. He wanted to show them all these crazy looks and then play this pretty basic (defense).

BEDARD: Whether it was personnel, coverage, rush – they used different combinations on the first 18 snaps of the game. That’s unheard of. 

WESTHOFF: All of a sudden, (Ryan) would show that crazy look and bring everybody, take the chance, play zero coverage with everyone else. 

WOODY: I think the biggest thing was giving (Brady) different pictures. Let him see one thing pre-snap, let him see another thing post-snap. 

RYAN, during postgame press conference: We thought we had a good plan, but the plans are useless without great play from your players and our guys bought in.

PACE: I have a tight end on me, but Alge (Crumpler) is a pretty good player, big guy. I didn’t beat him on the first move, but Tom’s still holding the ball.

WEEKS: Brady kind of rolls to the defense’s right. As he’s rolling to the right, he thinks he has time.

PACE: I’m running at Tom Brady, I’m looking at him. But the only thing I’m thinking about is, “How am I going to hit him?” Because the quarterback has so much protection. I can’t hit him in the head. So I’m just like, “OK man, I have to go light him up in the most legal way possible.”

WEEKS: And that’s when Calvin hits him – makes a big play, fumble, all that stuff.

WOODY: I thought he was going to kill him on that play.

PACE: They recovered the ball, we finished the series out. Then the next day after the game, the celebration, Mike Pettine, the defensive coordinator, showed me a picture and was like, “Do you know you’re on Sports Illustrated?”

WOODY:  It was a huge hit – and you don't really get those type of shots on Tom Brady.

That momentum proved short-lived, though, as the Patriots scored a touchdown and converted the two-point attempt on their next drive to cut the Jets’ lead to 14-11 with 13 seconds left in the third quarter. The Jets responded with a five-play, 75-yard drive to make it 21-11 early in the fourth.

WOODY: Foxborough is like mythical. You go up there and things happen and things tend to spiral out of control. But we still had the belief.

LIEBERFARB: You could feel it in the stadium – the momentum was changing. And all of a sudden (Sanchez) hits Cotchery (for 58 yards).

COTCHERY: I had a route where I basically just had an OLB just sitting over the ball. I blew open and stayed on the move, Sanchez saw what I was doing and just put it on me.

LIEBERFARB: He just took it down the sideline. Then a couple of plays later (Sanchez) hit Holmes – Holmes made a tremendous catch in the end zone.

COTCHERY: The grab was just crazy, but he made those grabs all the time, you know? We just called it “Tone Time.” 

LIEBERFARB: It reminded me of the one he made in the Super Bowl with Pittsburgh. It was that type of catch.

The Jets got another boost on the Patriots’ ensuing drive, when they faced fourth-and-13 at the edge of field goal range, but turned it over on downs. Then, with 3:29 to go, a long punt return by Julian Edelman put the Patriots across midfield. 

PACE: Honestly, I remember feeling like, “Man, not today. Don’t let them do it to us today.” When you play them, you can be doing well for 58 minutes and the last two minutes, two plays and you’re like, “I can’t believe that just happened.”

CROMARTIE: We just wanted to make sure that once we were on the field … if they get down to score, they only get three points.

The Jets did indeed force a field goal, as the Patriots’ drive stalled at the 17. Belichick had his unit rush to get the play off before the two-minute warning. They were unsuccessful – and the disallowed kick hit the upright. 

The second kick was good, cutting the Jets’ lead to 21-14 and setting up an onside kick. Cromartie scooped up and returned it 23 yards to the Patriots’ 25.

WOODY: Usually what they teach is just fall on it. Then the surrounding guys basically get on top of that person to secure the ball.

CROMARTIE: Yeah, I think everybody will tell you that I'm not the one to go down.

COTCHERY: I said, ‘He's crazy, man. He's crazy – he’s trying to score.’ But that was Cro. 

WOODY: It was like, “No, no, no, no! OK, OK, OK!”

COTCHERY: It was just typical of the night – guys just prepared and ready for everything. He was ready for the onside kick and he made a play and sealed the game. 

Two plays later, running back Shonn Greene scored on a 4-yard run to make it 28-14 with 1:41 remaining. The Patriots had just one timeout remaining.

WOODY: I just remember Rex just running from the sidelines – well, if you want call it a run. It was the slowest thing that I've ever seen. But if you watch that clip and just watch Rex, guys were jumping on Rex and Rex was doing the same. 

COTCHERY: It was typical him, excited about what was going on in the game, excited about seeing his players make plays.

CROMARTIE: There might be four or five plays in a game that can turn and determine the game. We felt like we made those.

WEEKS: We probably didn’t do it right because we scored. Everyone was like, “No, don’t score – that gives them time.”

The two teams traded punts to start the third quarter. But when the Patriots got the ball for a second time, the Jets’ pass rush – which totaled five sacks – dialed up the pressure.

WESTHOFF: I know Rex felt really good about his plan. I remember he came in, sat one night and was showing it to me and talking about it and he was excited. He wanted to show them all these crazy looks and then play this pretty basic (defense).

BEDARD: Whether it was personnel, coverage, rush – they used different combinations on the first 18 snaps of the game. That’s unheard of.

WESTHOFF: All of a sudden, (Ryan) would show that crazy look and bring everybody, take the chance, play zero coverage with everyone else. 

WOODY: I think the biggest thing was giving (Brady) different pictures. Let him see one thing pre-snap, let him see another thing post-snap. 

RYAN, during postgame press conference: We thought we had a good plan, but the plans are useless without great play from your players and our guys bought in.

PACE: I have a tight end on me, but Alge (Crumpler) is a pretty good player, big guy. I didn’t beat him on the first move, but Tom’s still holding the ball.

WEEKS: Brady kind of rolls to the defense’s right. As he’s rolling to the right, he thinks he has time.

PACE: I’m running at Tom Brady, I’m looking at him. But the only thing I’m thinking about is, “How am I going to hit him?” Because the quarterback has so much protection. I can’t hit him in the head. So I’m just like, “OK man, I have to go light him up in the most legal way possible.”

WEEKS: And that’s when Calvin hits him – makes a big play, fumble, all that stuff.

WOODY: I thought he was going to kill him on that play.

PACE: They recovered the ball, we finished the series out. Then the next day after the game, the celebration, Mike Pettine, the defensive coordinator, showed me a picture and was like, “Do you know you’re on Sports Illustrated?”

WOODY:  It was a huge hit – and you don't really get those type of shots on Tom Brady.

That momentum proved short-lived, though, as the Patriots scored a touchdown and converted the two-point attempt on their next drive to cut the Jets’ lead to 14-11 with 13 seconds left in the third quarter. The Jets responded with a five-play, 75-yard drive to make it 21-11 early in the fourth.

WOODY: Foxborough is like mythical. You go up there and things happen and things tend to spiral out of control. But we still had the belief.

LIEBERFARB: You could feel it in the stadium – the momentum was changing. And all of a sudden (Sanchez) hits Cotchery (for 58 yards).

COTCHERY: I had a route where I basically just had an OLB just sitting over the ball. I blew open and stayed on the move, Sanchez saw what I was doing and just put it on me.

LIEBERFARB: He just took it down the sideline. Then a couple of plays later (Sanchez) hit Holmes – Holmes made a tremendous catch in the end zone.

COTCHERY: The grab was just crazy, but he made those grabs all the time, you know? We just called it “Tone Time.” 

LIEBERFARB: It reminded me of the one he made in the Super Bowl with Pittsburgh. It was that type of catch.

The Jets got another boost on the Patriots’ ensuing drive, when they faced fourth-and-13 at the edge of field goal range, but turned it over on downs. Then, with 3:29 to go, a long punt return by Julian Edelman put the Patriots across midfield. 

PACE: Honestly, I remember feeling like, “Man, not today. Don’t let them do it to us today.” When you play them, you can be doing well for 58 minutes and the last two minutes, two plays and you’re like, “I can’t believe that just happened.”

CROMARTIE: We just wanted to make sure that once we were on the field … if they get down to score, they only get three points.

The Jets did indeed force a field goal, as the Patriots’ drive stalled at the 17. Belichick had his unit rush to get the play off before the two-minute warning. They were unsuccessful – and the disallowed kick hit the upright. 

The second kick was good, cutting the Jets’ lead to 21-14 and setting up an onside kick. Cromartie scooped up and returned it 23 yards to the Patriots’ 25.

WOODY: Usually what they teach is just fall on it. Then the surrounding guys basically get on top of that person to secure the ball.

CROMARTIE: Yeah, I think everybody will tell you that I'm not the one to go down.

COTCHERY: I said, ‘He's crazy, man. He's crazy – he’s trying to score.’ But that was Cro. 

WOODY: It was like, “No, no, no, no! OK, OK, OK!”

COTCHERY: It was just typical of the night – guys just prepared and ready for everything. He was ready for the onside kick and he made a play and sealed the game. 

Two plays later, running back Shonn Greene scored on a 4-yard run to make it 28-14 with 1:41 remaining. The Patriots had just one timeout remaining.

WOODY: I just remember Rex just running from the sidelines – well, if you want call it a run. It was the slowest thing that I've ever seen. But if you watch that clip and just watch Rex, guys were jumping on Rex and Rex was doing the same. 

COTCHERY: It was typical him, excited about what was going on in the game, excited about seeing his players make plays.

CROMARTIE: There might be four or five plays in a game that can turn and determine the game. We felt like we made those.

WEEKS: We probably didn’t do it right because we scored. Everyone was like, “No, don’t score – that gives them time.”

The Jets’ touchdown gave Brady and the Patriots time to march 59 yards in seven plays and get within 28-21 with 24 seconds left. That set up a second onside kick, which free safety Eric Smith recovered. Sanchez took a knee and the Jets clinched a second-straight trip to the AFC title game.

WEEKS: Our players were all over the place. They weren’t in the stands, but they were on the bleachers, they were on the training table standing up – because that doesn’t happen. You don’t get beat like that and you don’t go up there and win very often.

COTCHERY: I have the picture on my wall of Santonio, Braylon and myself standing on the bench.

WEEKS: The fans were flipping us off, ‘F you!’ 

LIEBERFARB: The fans up there are just obnoxious. To watch them walk out of there with their heads between their legs, it’s a very good feeling.

WEEKS: I don’t mean this bad toward Boston people – my cousin lives up there – they’re the worst fans ever. They’re just awful. They’re mean, they’re hateful. I’m an Oklahoma-Texas guy. I don’t hate Texas, I love Oklahoma. I can appreciate the University of Texas, horns down and all that stuff – we get into it. But God, Boston people? They’re just assholes. 

LIEBERFARB: If they had played a close game a month earlier or maybe if they had even beaten them that night … maybe they wouldn’t have beaten the Pats. I think a lot of it was because of the way they were embarrassed. 

RYAN, during postgame speech: Maybe nobody else did, but I know one darn thing: We believed. Same old Jets, going to the AFC Championship Game.

The Interview

After the final whistle, ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio walked onto the field looking for a postgame interview. Almost immediately, he found linebacker Bart Scott. 

PAOLANTONIO: (Scott) was imitating a jet landing safely on the field in Foxborough, arms out like the beginning of “Back in the USSR.” It’s “Back in Foxborough,” baby and he's sticking the landing.

PACE: I remember seeing Bart out of the corner of my eye, going over there by the guys who dress up as Patriots, but I wasn’t paying him any attention. It’s just Bart, there’s no telling what he’s over there doing.

PAOLANTONIO: My producer is from Massachusetts, from the Boston area, a guy named Charlie Moynihan. He pointed out Bart Scott right away. We said to the cameraman, just stay on him, keep rolling, make sure you have the sound on – we want to hear the whole thing. 

The following is a transcript of Paolantonio’s interview with Scott:

SCOTT: To all the non-believers! To all the non-believers – especially you, Tom Jackson! Way to have our back, Keyshawn! Anybody can be beat! 

PAOLANTONIO: So how did that just feel?

SCOTT: Felt great, poetic justice. We know we were a much better team than we came up and represented ourselves and we were pissed off. We were ready to come back and show what type of defense, what type of team this was, what kind of character we had. We take a lot of slack. People gave us no chance, like we barely made the playoffs. We’re a good football team! 

PAOLANTONIO: It looks like this team played with anger all day. Why, Bart?

SCOTT: For all you non-believers! Disrespect us, talk crap about the defense, like we ain’t the third-best defense in the league. All we hear about is their defense. They can’t stop a nosebleed! Twenty-fifth in the league and we’re the ones that get disrespected.

PAOLANTONIO: Congratulations, see you in Pittsburgh.

SCOTT: Can’t wait!

PAOLANTONIO: Back to you.

The interview lasted just 60 seconds. After his final words, Scott walked off screen as Paolantonio wrapped up.

PAOLANTONIO: (Moynihan) grabs the tapes, takes it inside and as he's leaving, I said, ‘Charlie, feed that immediately and don't stop feeding it.’ And within 25 seconds of it being fed, less than 30 seconds, my boss – a guy named Seth Markman, who is a Jets fan … texted me all in caps, ‘BART SCOTT HOLY BLEEP.’

PACE: I’m sitting on the team bus – I always sat in the opposite row from David Harris. He was like, ‘Hey man, look at ESPN. Look at this interview Bart did.’

WOODY: We were all just laughing like, “Bart, you’re a damn fool.” 

COTCHERY: None of that shocked me because I knew where the emotions were coming from. A lot went on that 45-3 night.

WOODY: We were just like, “Dude you really called out Tom Jackson and all that stuff? Live?” That’s the best thing ever, man.

PACE: It was fitting for that moment. It was the perfect interview.

PAOLANTONIO: It ran all week. So then afterwards, I went back to Florham Park. Everybody – security guards, secretaries, receptionists – just would go up to me and go, “Sal, can't wait.” “Hey Sal Pal, can’t wait.” “Can’t wait Sal Pal.”

WOODY: I remember talking to Sal Paolantonio about it. That was one of his best moments – and he didn't have to do anything really. He really just let Bart do the talking and it turned into a viral moment. 

PAOLANTONIO: That's the great part of those postgame interviews on the field. The information can sometimes be illuminating, but for the fans to connect, viewers to connect with the players on that kind of emotional level is rare.

WEEKS: I think it all matched up for two guys where it really hit. You had a great announcer or a great interviewer in Sal Paolantonio and then a great, charismatic guy in Bart Scott.

PAOLANTONIO: Of all the interviews I've done, it's definitely the one that’s resonated the most – and this is my 25th year covering the league and going into 24 years at the time.

The Aftermath

For all the Jets’ anticipation, they came out flat against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field the following week, digging a 21-point halftime hole. A second-half comeback fell short and a 24-19 loss left the Jets one game shy of the Super Bowl for the second straight season.

The Jets failed to crack .500 in each of the following four seasons, prompting Jets owner Woody Johnson to fire Ryan. New head coach Todd Bowles nearly propelled the Jets into the playoffs in 2015, his first season, but a Week 17 loss in Buffalo sent them packing.

Including this season, the Jets have now missed the playoffs in eight straight years – the second-longest active drought in the NFL. They have not won in Foxborough since, either.

WESTHOFF: You can’t keep everybody because of the salary cap, so we got into that and we started to lose guys.

VRENTAS: They just seemed to make some of the wrong personnel moves.

DEVITO: We lost some key leaders and I think, even the talent we still had, without the leadership it didn’t matter. 

VRENTAS: They had to pick either Santonio or Braylon. They picked Santonio and then the next day the cover of one of the tabloids was him chugging that champagne bottle after he signed the contract. At that point coaches knew, “We probably have a problem here.”

WESTHOFF: It was ridiculous. The whole thing, it just disintegrated. It went from being a really fun team to be with, to a team that we had so many guys that all of a sudden, they missed practice, they were always hurt. 

DEVITO: We had some infighting and different things like that. It’s heartbreaking because we had the talent to get back there and we just shot ourselves in the foot. 

WESTHOFF: I think that we let that football team get away from us and I will completely blame (general manager) Mike Tannenbaum.

VRENTAS: Then they tried to open up the offense with Sanchez and his receivers are like Derrick Mason, Plaxico Burress and then Holmes. It just wasn’t set up to succeed.

WESTHOFF: Then (before the 2012 season) we gave Mark the big contract. I can remember asking … why would (Tannenbaum) do this? And I’ll never forget, he said, “Well, this is what a championship-game quarterback would make.” Well, if he were that, I’d really agree with you. 

WEEKS: Mark can’t see, obviously. He can’t see past a certain point. He never could throw a screen pass or a swing pass. 

WESTHOFF: He was on the bus and an integral part, yes. I have all due respect for that. But he sure as hell wasn’t driving the bus.

VRENTAS: And then from there, things just kind of splintered apart.

DEVITO: I know a lot of Jets fans will still talk about that (playoff run). But as a Jets fan myself, I’m hoping that now, as a fan, we can get back there sometime soon and get to experience it again.

PRICE: When the Patriots and Jets hate each other – when that rivalry is at its best – the league is better, football is more fun. Hopefully we’ll be able to see that again sooner rather than later.

BILL BELICHICK, Patriots head coach: Sunday – that’s really the only game I’m thinking about or care about right now. Sorry.

 
 
 
 
Where are they now?
 
  • Damien Woody retired after the 2011 season and is an NFL analyst for ESPN.
  • Antonio Cromartie last played during the 2016 season and officially retired this past March. His family appeared on a TV show called "The Cromarties" on USA Network this past summer.
  • Calvin Pace left the NFL after the 2015 season and spends much of his time with his children.
  • Jerricho Cotchery retired after the 2015 season and is now an assistant wide receivers coach with the Carolina Panthers.
  • Mike DeVito retired in 2016 and is working his way through graduate school.
  • Jeff Weeks followed Ryan to the Buffalo Bills and has not coached in the NFL since 2016. He lives in Texas with his family.
  • Mike Westhoff came out of retirement last season to work for the New Orleans Saints, where he remains as a special teams coach.
  • Jenny Vrentas covers the NFL for Sports Illustrated's "The MMQB."
  • Greg Bedard is the editor and owner of BostonSportsJournal.com. 
  • Christopher Price works for Bedard as the football for BostonSportsJournal.com.
  • Sal Paolantonio continues to work for ESPN.
  • Ira Lieberfarb continues to attend every Jets game, home and away.
 
Matt Stypulkoski may be reached at mstypulkoski@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_Stypulkoski. Find NJ.com Jets on Facebook.

Some absolutely awesome stuff in this article.

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1 hour ago, Mogglez said:

WESTHOFF: I think that we let that football team get away from us and I will completely blame (general manager) Mike Tannenbaum.

1 hour ago, Mogglez said:

WESTHOFF: Then (before the 2012 season) we gave Mark the big contract. I can remember asking … why would (Tannenbaum) do this? And I’ll never forget, he said, “Well, this is what a championship-game quarterback would make.” Well, if he were that, I’d really agree with you. 

Boy do I miss THAT guy! Great read. 

It's really a great thing to remember, but it's also sad that this is one of the great Jets moments as it was followed by such a turd in Pitt. Its not even a championship game that we won much less a SuperBowl. Its just a playoff game albeit a big one for us. So many problems with that game and then the following offseason. Letting Braylon, Brad Smith, Cotch, Ellis and so many others go only to replace them with loser criminals. 

 

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4 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

Yes, it’s definitely not Same Old Jets-like to talk about an entirely inconsequential game from almost a decade ago as if it was the allied forces storming the beach at Normandy. Beating the Patriots in 2010 has become the John Starks dunk “over” Jordan, in that it’s some gay sh*t homers hang onto as a way to forget that Rex Ryan is 5-12 in his career vs Belichick, and one of those measly five wins was against Jacoby Brisset. Seriously. Get some self-respect, people. The only thing this momentous victory did for the Jets franchise was lock Rex into a career death spiral and put the Jets on a direct path to where we are right now. 

I liked the part where the guy just says ‘Mark can’t see, obviously.’ CONSUELA MI AMOR.

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34 minutes ago, Miss Lonelyhearts said:

I liked the part where the guy just says ‘Mark can’t see, obviously.’ CONSUELA MI AMOR.

I couldn’t even get that far. I kinda glossed over when they described Jeff Weeks as an “Outside Linebackers Coach.”

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6 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

I couldn’t even get that far. I kinda glossed over when they described Jeff Weeks as an “Outside Linebackers Coach.”

Yes, that was week.

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2 hours ago, BigO said:

I’m not wasting 5 minutes of my life reading such drivel.

lol   like it or not, it's the last really cool memory we have of our team on a football field. Like I mentioned, it sucks that this is the reality of being a Jets fan, but to hear guys like Cotch and Westhoff recant their thoughts unfiltered is pretty cool. 

You're being mean.  lol   :-) 

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I was not alive for SB 3.  That game against the Pats in 2010 was probably the happiest I've ever been as a Jets fan.

The Harris pick specifically.  Sky High.

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Was at that game, definitely a high point, but I’ll never forgive Rex for the team being completely unprepared the next week in Pittsburgh.

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Outside of the 1968 season this was the greatest win in franchise history. I can't believe what a cliff we have fallen off since that incredible win.

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11 hours ago, greenwichjetfan said:

Great read. That was the most fun I’ve had as a Jets fan, so it was fun to remember. Seriously. Get some self-respect, people.

 

On a related note, I’m firmly rooting for the Saints this year. I want Westhoff to get his much-deserved championship.

 

Yes. Braylon dragging those Patriots at his feet... Best moment I can remember as a fan.

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12 hours ago, nyjunc said:

Outside of the 1968 season this was the greatest win in franchise history. I can't believe what a cliff we have fallen off since that incredible win.

I can absolutely believe it

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Great win. But the team was flat in yhe tiyle game. Maybe they thought they had arrived.

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When Dennis Byrds jersey was walked onto the field by the Jets Captains, and then they subsequently beat the Pats, I honestly thought I was going to see the Jets in the Superbowl. I believed. 

And then they forgot to show up a week later.....

 

 

1998 was better. Better team. Likeable team. The core of players I most identify with, even though I was born in 71 and watched the Obrien/Walker/Gastineau teams. 

 

1998 was the best season in my life as a Jets fan. 20 years ago. And they didn't even get to the SB....

 

FML. 

 

Good read, though. Love the comments about how much NE people are total Assholes. Because they are.

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10 hours ago, Jets86 said:

Great win. But the team was flat in yhe tiyle game. Maybe they thought they had arrived.

No one played nearly as badly as CuMar did in 98.

Flat doesn't nearly describe that atrocity... Hall of Shame

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On 12/28/2018 at 12:40 AM, T0mShane said:

Yes, it’s definitely not Same Old Jets-like to talk about an entirely inconsequential game from almost a decade ago as if it was the allied forces storming the beach at Normandy. Beating the Patriots in 2010 has become the John Starks dunk “over” Jordan, in that it’s some gay sh*t homers hang onto as a way to forget that Rex Ryan is 5-12 in his career vs Belichick, and one of those measly five wins was against Jacoby Brisset. Seriously. Get some self-respect, people. The only thing this momentous victory did for the Jets franchise was lock Rex into a career death spiral and put the Jets on a direct path to where we are right now. 

being a prickly bastard is one thing, predicting Matt Leinart would win SB's as an NFL QB is another...

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Losing that 2nd AFC title game was the one that still hurts to this day. The year before, the Colts were better than us, pure and simple. Not Pittsburgh the next year. No way.

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6 minutes ago, Losmeister said:

being a prickly bastard is one thing, predicting Matt Leinart would win SB's as an NFL QB is another...

Matt was felled by chasing porn stars around Van Nuys and, really, I’m not prepared to judge him too harshly for it. 

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12 hours ago, Jets86 said:

Great win. But the team was flat in yhe tiyle game. Maybe they thought they had arrived.

"Can wait"

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23 minutes ago, section314 said:

Losing that 2nd AFC title game was the one that still hurts to this day. The year before, the Colts were better than us, pure and simple. Not Pittsburgh the next year. No way.

Not sure about that.  I think Pittsburgh probably was better than us that year.  And they had home field in that game (which they earned).  The game that kills me is losing to Denver in the AFC CG in 1998.  Yes they were at home and yes they were better BUT we led 10-0 early in the 2nd half and we absolutely fell apart (IIRC, everyone started fumbling).  I'm convinced we would've beaten Atlanta in the Superbowl that year though (had we held on against Denver).  I'm not going to get over that season until the Jets finally win a Superbowl.  

On a related note, it's F-ing absurd that the Jets haven't even participated in a Superbowl since 1969.  Aside from a couple of expansion teams (Jags, Texans), only the Lions and Browns have a longer streak of not making the Superbowl than us.  The Lions and Browns have never gone to a SB btw.

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1 hour ago, T0mShane said:

Matt was felled by chasing porn stars around Van Nuys and, really, I’m not prepared to judge him too harshly for it. 

if nasty snatch is your thang... shrug

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2 minutes ago, Losmeister said:

if nasty snatch is your thang... shrug

I’m glad we came to this understanding.

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30 minutes ago, TuscanyTile2 said:

we led 10-0 early in the 2nd half and we absolutely fell apart (IIRC, everyone started fumbling).

I distinctly said to myself, aloud, " Holy f----sh--, the Jets are going to the f---- SuperBowl!"

I know that the 3rd WR Ward had a huuuge drop ona  3rd down, that once Denver scored the wind blew the KO down onto the blockers on STs who'd turned to run back and set up the wall...  that Chrebet slipped on a pass that ended up an INT ...  

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On 12/28/2018 at 4:37 AM, BigO said:

I’m not wasting 5 minutes of my life reading such drivel.

Sucks being only a 4 minute fan.  :)

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Rex did a great job those two years, but when you build a house of cards you can’t be shocked when it falls apart. 

The Jets had some foundational pieces with prime years left in Revis, Harris, Brick, and Mangold, but the rest of that team was mercenaries. Unfortunately they ultimately missed on Sanchez and Tannenbaum was two years too late in pulling the plug. 

 

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41 minutes ago, Losmeister said:

I distinctly said to myself, aloud, " Holy f----sh--, the Jets are going to the f---- SuperBowl!"

I know that the 3rd WR Ward had a huuuge drop ona  3rd down, that once Denver scored the wind blew the KO down onto the blockers on STs who'd turned to run back and set up the wall...  that Chrebet slipped on a pass that ended up an INT ...  

It all went downhill after this:

 

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