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Astonished LI fans savor Jets' victory

Jets fan Keith Kenny of Hicksville cheers as

Jets fan Keith Kenny of Hicksville cheers as he watches the Jets beat the San Diego Chargers at Mulcahy's in Wantagh. Credit: John Dunn

As the Jets were butting heads with the San Diego Chargers, their fans were banging on the bar at Mulcahy's Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh more than 2,500 miles away.

And when running back Thomas Jones sealed the game with a 2-yard run for a first down, more than 125 fans, a sea of green jerseys, shook the bar with their cheers.

"J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" they cried.

Victory, long elusive to the long-suffering Jets fan, came Sunday night in a stunning upset of the heavily favored Chargers, and some seemed almost astonished at their good fortune.

"It means the world to me," said Will Batterbee, 15, a 10th-grader from Wantagh High School who was watching the game at Mulcahy's with his father and cousins.

Such moments are rare for a team whose near misses and heartbreaking losses over more than 40 years have inspired the phrase "Same Old Jets." Not since 1969, when Joe Namath was quarterback, have the Jets won a Super Bowl, and they haven't been back since.

So even as the Jets pulled ahead in the final quarter, the fans at Mulcahy's didn't let down their guard. They fidgeted in their seats. Some chewed their nails.

Even die-hard Jets fans who made the trek to San Diego were nervous.

"If I had heart pills, I would have taken them," said Howard Elman, 43, of Oyster Bay Cove, who attended the game with his son, Zachary, 16, and brother, Neil. "As a Jets fan, you can't savor a win till it's over."

After the clock struck zero, fans confided they had hope this time, that maybe rookie head coach Rex Ryan and the team's new tough mentality could take them to the Super Bowl.

"I was cautiously optimistic the entire game," said Jim LaSalle Jr., 36, of Bellmore, who has spent every meaningful Jets game at the pub with his father, also named Jim, since the Jets last went to the conference championship in 1998.

Next up for the Jets - the Indianapolis Colts, top seed in the AFC, on Sunday at 3 p.m. The winner goes on to the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 in Miami.

Len Boscia, 38, of Bethpage, said he'll be back at Mulcahy's next week at the same table where he and his wife, Meredith, watched the Jets win last night and the week before.

"It's good luck," Boscia said. "I'm looking forward to coming right back to this table and watching another Jets victory."

With Joshua Seidman

New York Sports