Josh McCown started and won an NFL game — against the Giants — the week before Eli Manning began his streak of 210 consecutive regular-season starts in 2004.
And Josh McCown started and won an NFL game — for the Jets — the week that Manning’s streak ended in 2017.
That golden historical nugget would have been enough to be proud of on Sunday, given that McCown has been a fringe player for most of his professional career while Manning is a potential Hall of Famer.
The way it happened, though, in the Jets’ 38-31 victory over the Chiefs at MetLife Stadium made it even more improbable, and more memorable.
McCown is 38 and likely will not be wearing green — or any other NFL color — when the Jets reach their next Super Bowl. But if it happens during the careers of some of their talented young players, he rightly can take some credit.
Although the Jets’ better-than-expected competitiveness and 5-7 record is damaging their draft position, it is helping their development, and their quarterback continues to be a big part of that.
Whenever the thought crosses people’s minds that it might be time to take a look at young Bryce Petty or even younger Christian Hackenberg, McCown does something like this: 26-for-36 passing for 331 yards and a touchdown.
Oh, and he also ran for two touchdowns, both on 1-yard keepers. He kept the Jets’ second touchdown drive alive with a keeper on fourth-and-1.
Not every quarterback is into that sort of thing, especially at 38.
“Tom [Brady] likes to do it,” McCown said. “I’m not so much, necessarily. But for me I’m just like, whatever works, whatever gets us in the end zone. That’s all that matters.”
Earlier, he twice scrambled for first downs on third-down plays.
“He’s 38, but he looks like he’s 26 out there,” receiver Jermaine Kearse said.
“It’s part of whatever it takes to keep the sticks moving,” McCown said, “and in this industry, if you don’t do that, then you’re not in this industry very long.”
McCown’s clutch plays helped the Jets go 13-for-20 on third downs and possess the ball for nearly 43 minutes. That included two pivotal third-down completions on the game-winning drive.
On the first, he escaped heavy pressure to find Chad Hansen for a 12-yard gain on third-and-6. On the second, he hit Kearse for 51 yards on a third-and-7.
The Jets finally scored the winning touchdown with the help of two devastating penalties on the Chiefs — then added a two-point conversion with help from another penalty on Kansas City.
Wait: Aren’t untimely penalties a Jets specialty? Asked what he was thinking as he watched the Chiefs melt down, McCown said, “Well, I’m thinking, ‘I know how you feel.’ You play this game long enough, things start to go your way sometimes, too.”
McCown would know, having been around this game at the pro level since 2002.
What does all this mean in the big picture? Again, the Jets are not going to the Super Bowl this year, and probably will not do so next year, either, if McCown re-signs.
But give the guy credit for making something out of what was supposed to be a nothing season, for him and the team. He has been a leader in the locker room, on the field and as a team spokesman with the public and media.
It’s been a feel-good story, the polar opposite of the quarterback melodrama going on with the other team that plays its home games at MetLife.
Oh, and about that game in Arizona back in 2004? McCown did beat the Giants and Kurt Warner, 17-14, but he was only 12-for-24 for 90 yards and no touchdowns, throwing or running.
So he is improving!