Why do I get the feeling the Jets aren't all that broken up about playing their final game at the Meadowlands tonight against the Bengals? Fact is, I think they can't wait to get out of this place and move a few hundred yards away to their new digs.
And why wouldn't they? It's been mostly a house of horrors since they moved over from Shea Stadium for the 1984 season. The place has seen some of the signature moments from all that has gone wrong with a franchise that hasn't been to a Super Bowl, let alone won one, since the Joe Namath era. Underscoring that frustration: their stadium co-tenants, the Giants, have been to four Super Bowls and won three since 1986.
No wonder the Jets can't even bring themselves to call the place by its given name: Giants Stadium.
So let's say goodbye this one last time and look back on the 10 most memorable moments (that's memorable, not necessarily enjoyable):
10. Sept. 9, 2007: The Jets were routed by the Patriots 38-14 in the regular-season opener, but that wasn’t the big news of the afternoon. Less than 24 hours after the game, reports surfaced that the Patriots had taped the Jets’ defensive coaching signals, and “Spygate” eventually mushroomed into one of the biggest controversies in NFL history.
9. Oct. 17, 1988: In a 37-14 Monday night loss to the Bills, some Jets fans were so frustrated by the outcome that they set fire to debris in the stands. The incident led authorities to cut off beer sales in the fourth quarter.
8. Dec. 18, 1988: With the Giants needing a win to make the playoffs, the Jets derailed those plans with a 27-21 win. Ken O’Brien hit Al Toon for a touchdown with 37 seconds left to win it. Later that night, as Giants quarterback Phil Simms watched the Giants’ playoff hopes vanish during a Rams win over the 49ers, Simms said, “I’m just sitting here staring and watching the 49ers lay down like dogs.”
7. Jan. 10, 1999: Bill Parcells ushered in one of the few successful eras of any Jets head coach, and capped it with a 34-24 win over the Jaguars to reach the AFC Championship Game. They wound up losing that game in Denver.
6. Nov. 29, 1992: It was one of the most frightening scenes ever witnessed in an NFL game. In the third quarter of a 23-7 loss to the Chiefs, Jets defenders Dennis Byrd and Scott Mersereau collided. Byrd collapsed and lay motionless on the turf, having suffered a broken neck. He would make a remarkable recovery, however, and walked onto the same field before the Jets’ home opener the next season.
5. Sept. 12, 1999: The Jets came into the season off an AFC Championship Game appearance, thanks to Vinny Testaverde’s remarkable resurgence in 1998. But dreams of a Super Bowl run the following year were dashed in horrific fashion in the regular season opener, as Testaverde suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in a 30-28 loss to the Patriots. It would turn out to be Bill Parcells’ final year as the Jets’ head coach.
4. Nov. 27, 1994: The Jets were leading the Dolphins 24-6 in the third quarter, but Dan Marino got Miami back to 24-21 in the fourth. With time running down and Dolphins driving deep into Jets territory, Marino faked a spike near the Jets’ goal line, and instead threw a touchdown pass to Mark Ingram behind a stunned Aaron Glenn. The Jets fell to 6-6, then lost four straight games. Pete Carroll was fired after the season, and his successor, Rich Kotite, went a combined 4-28 over the next two seasons.
3. Jan. 4, 2003: In the last home playoff game at the Meadowlands, the Jets scored one of the most impressive victories in franchise history, routing Peyton Manning’s Colts, 41-0, behind Chad Pennington’s three touchdowns. The Jets intercepted Manning twice, as Jets coach Herman Edwards beat his best friend, Colts coach Tony Dungy.
2. Sept. 21, 1986: In the highest-scoring game in stadium history, the Jets outlasted the Dolphins, 51-45, as O’Brien and Marino engaged in an epic duel between two Class of ’83 quarterbacks. O’Brien and Marino combined to throw an NFL single-game record 927 yards.
1. Oct. 23, 2000: In a Monday night game sandwiched between games of the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees, the Jets fell behind the Dolphins 30-7 entering the fourth quarter. But the Jets staged a comeback behind Testaverde, who sent the game into overtime with a tackle-eligible touchdown pass to Jumbo Elliott. John Hall’s 40-yard field goal in overtime finished off the “Monday Night Miracle.”