The last time the New York Jets played an NFL game in Los Angeles didn’t work out for Boomer Esiason and the veteran squad.
It’s been a bit, a little bit (in that classic Robert DeNiro voice). The last time the New York Jets played a football game in Los Angeles was 1993.
This Sunday will break that 27-year streak when the 0-9 Jets take on the 2-7 Chargers in L.A.
Back then, there were two Los Angeles teams, just like today. Interestingly, the franchises don’t match. Instead of the Chargers, a team that played its entire life in San Diego prior to the L.A. move a few years ago, it was Al Davis’s Raiders who held down the other L.A. spot alongside the Rams.
The Raiders’ 24-20 come-from-behind victory over the Jets in Week 6 of the 1993 season marks the last time your beloved Gotham Green played in the City of Angeles.
Both teams entered the contest 2-2. New York entered the game sporting the NFL’s best offense, while Los Angeles curiously entered with the league’s worst.
The 1992 Jets finished a disappointing 4-12 behind the infamous Browning Nagle season. A stellar preseason didn’t translate over to the regular season for either the Jets or the second-round selection whose talents convinced an organization that he had the goods.
The 1992 Raiders also disappointed fans—something Al Davis wasn’t too familiar with back then. The team’s 7-9 record was just its fourth losing season since 1964 and only the seventh losing season since the AFL organization formed in 1960.
Additionally, rumors had already begun to swirl about the franchise’s future in Los Angeles. The 1994 season ultimately represented the team’s last season in Los Angeles (before the move back to Oakland).
After starting 2-1, the Jets were coming off a tough 35-30 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, while the Raiders were riding a two-game losing streak.
Nineteen ninety-three was a much different year for the Jets. Head coach Bruce Coslet remained, but the team brought in a number of veterans to help turn things around. Boomer Esiason, Johnny Johnson and Ronnie Lott were all signed or acquired during the offseason, prompting many experts to pick the Jets as a pleasant 1993 surprise.
NBC’s No. 1 broadcast team, Dick Enberg and Bob Trumpy, had the call. Jeff Hostetler, who was acquired after his Super Bowl triumph with the Giants a few years earlier, was limited with an ankle injury sustained earlier in the season. Although he started the contest, it was obvious he wasn’t the same guy the Raiders were accustomed to. Head coach Art Shell inserted backup quarterback Vince Evans in the second quarter.
New York’s defense put the team on top early. Blair Thomas‘s 6-yard touchdown run was set up by a fumble recovery. Then, Jets safety Brian Washington returned a Hostetler pass to the house, a 62-yard pick-6 that put the Jets up 14-0 in the second quarter.
Evans’s first series resulted in another turnover (fumble), one that led to a Cary Blanchard field goal. Up 17-0, Coslet’s team was back on track after a tough loss to Philadelphia (the only team the Jets have never beaten).
From there, the Raiders struck quickly and furiously.
Evans found speedster James Jett for a 42-yard touchdown only to then find Alexander Wright for a 68-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The early 1990s Raiders were a notoriously big play, quick-strike team—just the way Davis loved it.
A Jeff Jaeger field goal later in the third quarter tied things up at 17. It was set up by a Joe Kelly fumble recovery. Kelly played for the Jets from 1990 to 1992 and was now haunting his former club the first season away from New York.
With all the momentum on the side of the home team, the 1988 NFL MVP decided to take charge.
Esiason led the Jets on a drive that resulted in Blanchard’s second field goal of the game, a 20-yard variety with just 4:29 to go in the game.
After Evans moved the ball down the field a bit, Shell called a timeout with just 32 seconds to go in the game. Although it was the team’s final timeout, Evans hit a young Tim Brown for six yards, down to the 1-yard line with a running clock.
With a scrambling Evans trying to get up to the line, the officials stopped the clock with the Jets laboring a bit defensively. Running back Nick Bell plowed through for the game-winning score with just four seconds to go in regulation.
Remember, Los Angeles had no timeouts remaining. If New York had stopped that play, it would have hung on in the final seconds. As many of the new-aged NFL fans consider a run call with no timeouts and just seven seconds remaining incredibly risky, it was more commonplace during a time when passing was much more difficult.
The Jets had blown a 21-point lead to the Eagles the week before and did it again—this time a 17-point lead to the Raiders.
Los Angeles would ultimately finish 10-6 and reach the divisional round after knocking off John Elway‘s Denver Broncos in the wild card round. After starting just 5-4, they would win five of their last seven games.
The Jets, on the other hand, would drop one to the Buffalo Bills the following week. They would fight back, however, and reel off five-straight victories (and win six of their next seven games). Unfortunately, the 8-5 Jets lost their final three games of the season, finishing a bitter 8-8 in 1993.
Finally, after a 27-year drought, the New York Jets are back in Los Angeles.