Remembering the greatest New York Jets moments on a neutral field
Is this Heaven? No, it’s New York Jets football.
The Jets’ pinstriped compatriots from The Bronx, the New York Yankees, are on pace for a Hollywood ending as they make a trek to the flyover states. In a trip to Dyersville, Iowa, the Yankees will battle the Chicago White Sox on the baseball field where the 1989 baseball classic Field of Dreams was filmed (7:15 p.m. ET, FOX). It will be the first Major League Baseball game held in the Hawkeye State.
In honor of the Yankees’ trip into the cornfield, we look back at Gang Green’s previous ventures into neutral territory.
Sept. 22, 1968: Bowl Tide
- Jets 47, Patriots 31 (Birmingham, AL)
Joe Namath knew a thing or two about winning in Alabama, guiding the famed Crimson Tide to the national title in 1964. A homecoming detour on the road to the Super Bowl came in Week 3 of the 1968 season.
The Boston Patriots’ brief relocation to Alabama was brought upon by the ongoing MLB season (they played at the Red Sox’s Fenway Park at the time) and were also making a power play for their own stadium in New England by gauging interest in new markets. Legion Field, which hosted both Alabama and its biggest rival Auburn, staged the first neutral-site game since the AFL-NFL merger as a result.
Namath impressed in his return, finding Don Maynard and Pete Lammons for scores. But it was the defense that stole the show, forcing six Patriot turnovers. Jim Hudson had two interceptions of Mike Taliaferro while Randy Beverly opened the scoring by taking another back 68 yards for a touchdown.
Dec. 3, 2009: Toronto Maple Revs’
- Jets 19, Bills 13 (Toronto)
Rush took over Toronto in December 2009, but Neal Peart was nowhere to be found.
Social media erupted when there was even a mere hint of the Buffalo Bills moving to Texas. Fortunately for the powers that be, Twitter was nowhere near the behemoth it is today back in 2009, when the Bills moving to a new country entirely was a realistic possibility.
The Jets were the opponent in the second segment of Buffalo’s six-part series at Rogers Centre. New York jumped out to a 16-10 lead at halftime, a lead built through three Jay Feely kicks and a 13-yard scoring grab for Braylon Edwards from Mark Sanchez.
Disaster, however, nearly struck in the middle stages of the third quarter. A head-first dive for a first by Sanchez, who already requiring sliding lessons from then-Yankees manager Joe Girardi, led to a knee injury that forced him out of the game.
Fortunately for the Jets, a strong run game and defensive effort took the load off relief “pitcher” Kellen Clemens at the home of the Blue Jays. Buffalo mustered only 194 yards of offense, while Jets rushers alone put up 249 (paced by 109 from Thomas Jones). Shaun Ellis had two sacks while Darrelle Revis’ interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick just before the two-minute warning sealed the deal.
Revis held a 35-year-old Terrell Owens to three catches on nine targets for 31 yards in the victory. Owens’ 33 percent catch rate in the game ended up as his second-lowest of the season.
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Nov. 24, 2014: Breakdown at Ford Field
- Bills 38, Jets 3 (Detroit, MI)
With Ralph Wilson Stadium buried in a Buffalo blizzard, the Bills were forced to move a Week 12 home game to the den of the Lions. They did what they could to provide their fans with warm feelings … leaving the Jets as the unfortunate burn victims.
In what became one of the last stands of the Rex Ryan era, the Jets earned only 218 yards and 11 first downs in a lopsided defeat. Michael Vick and Geno Smith were sacked a combined seven times, with Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams putting up two each.
The ultimate insult came at the end of the first half, when Scott Chandler commemorated a touchdown by feigning snow shoveling. While it was likely meant as a tribute to the Buffalo fans struggling to uncover their stadium, it served as a fitting metaphor for the Jets’ status.
Oct. 4, 2015: London Spoils
- Jets 27, Dolphins 14 (London)
The Jets will return to London on Oct. 10, as they’re set to battle Atlanta at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. They’ll look to build on a perfect European record, having previously earned a divisional triumph at Wembley Stadium six years ago.
Chris Ivory gave European fans a high-octane introduction to American football, earning a career-best 166 yards. It was part of a 207-yard effort on the ground for the Jets, as Ryan Fitzpatrick also added 34. Brandon Marshall was his favorite aerial target, putting up 128 yards on seven grabs.
Between that and a strong defensive effort, the Royal Air Force must’ve been proud. The Jets allowed only 226 yards and harrassed Ryan Tannehill into two interceptions and three sacks (two of which were credited to Muhammad Wilkerson, who also forced a fumble).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags