As upsets continue on the March Madness hardwood, we look back on the finest Cinderella stories in New York Jets history.
Over the weekend, Oregon State, Loyola Chicago and Oral Roberts are playing or have played for a chance to play in the Elite Eight on the hardwood. Double-digit seeds from Syracuse and UCLA have likewise joined the fold.
In short, March Madness is in full swing.
Upsets have dominated the college basketball landscape in the respective men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, which had we at Jet X thinking: What are the biggest upsets in Gang Green history?
We look at the four biggest upsets in team history, the only victories in franchise history where the New York Jets overcame an underdog kickoff line of at least 10 points to win (all lines obtained from Pro-Football-Reference).
1/12/69: Come on, what did you expect?
Jets 16, Colts 7 (NYJ -18.5)
No list of great Jets upsets—heck, a list of any upsets—is complete without a mention of their greatest triumph in Super Bowl 3, so let’s get it out the way early.
It took a team effort to fulfill Joe Namath‘s epic guarantee, with Matt Snell (121 rushing yards and a score) and George Sauer (eight receptions, 133 yards) among the unsung offensive heroes.
Defensively, Randy Beverly became the first player in Super Bowl history to earn two interceptions in a single edition (to date, there have been 12 to do so), victimizing both Earl Morrall and Johnny Unitas in what was mostly a shutout effort. Jim Turner booted through 10 points through field goals and an extra point.
12/20/20: California Dreamin’
Jets 23, Rams 20 (NYJ -17.5)
Even the most masochistic Jets fan is probably willing to turn their back on the 2020 season, but the team was able to make a little bit of (positive) team history through a little Christmas magic.
The Jets’ shocking win over the Rams overcame a 17.5-point spread, the largest ever covered in an outright victory. New York rushers handled scoring through an aerial score from Ty Johnson, while Frank Gore punched in what could be the final touchdown of his illustrious career.
Gore later hauled in a crucial six-year reception from Sam Darnold that sealed the Jets’ first victory of the year.
12/6/92: Buffalo Chilled
Jets 24, Bills 17 (NYJ -17.0)
Few gave the Jets a chance against a Buffalo Bills team destined to reach its third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. But amidst freezing temperatures and winds breaking 20 miles an hour, the Jets overcame a 10-3 halftime deficit in a win that indirectly caused Buffalo to lose the AFC East title to Miami.
Brad Baxter earned two scores while Brian Washington took back a Jim Kelly interception 23 yards for the winning score in the fourth quarter. It proved to be an emotional victory for the Jets, who endured Dennis Byrd’s devastating injury in the week prior against Kansas City.
11/12/06: Rise of ManGenius
Jets 17, Patriots 14 (NYJ -10.5)
Few gave Eric Mangini a chance in his return to Gillette Stadium. Back in Foxborough after six years as a New England defensive coach (the last as coordinator), Mangini’s collaboration with Bill Belichick had stretched beyond Massachusetts through shared endeavors in Cleveland and even New York. Belichick’s Patriots had taken the first meeting in East Rutherford by a 24-17 final.
But the Jets took revenge through a strong defensive effort, capped off through Shaun Ellis forcing a fumble from Tom Brady in the final seconds. It was the last of four sacks on Brady, the others earned by Dewayne Robertson, Bryan Thomas, and Kimo von Oelhoffen.
Offensively, Kevan Barlow had a rushing score while Chad Pennington found Jerricho Cotchery to create a brief, but late, two-possession lead.
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1/16/11: The Brady Punch (Out)
Jets 28, Patriots 21 (NYJ -9.5)
The Jets’ most recent moment of postseason glory was also one of their most shocking. (The official PFR line was -9.5 points—under 10—but this one is just too good to bypass.)
With New England entering a divisional playoff matchup as winners of their last eight … including a 45-3 dismantling of the Jets six weeks prior, and Tom Brady working on one of his most magical seasons (36-4 in respective touchdowns and interceptions), many saw the round as a mere formality.
But the Jets shocked the world with a strong defensive performance. Brady was sacked five times (twice by Ellis) while the Jets built separate two-possession leads.
Mark Sanchez put New York on the board through passing scores to LaDanian Tomlinson, Braylon Edwards, and Santonio Holmes, as the Jets moved on to Pittsburgh in the AFC title game, a trip that linebacker Bart Scott “(couldn’t) wait” for.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags