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Ride The Lightning

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by Jet Moses


While watching the Jets game on Sunday afternoon against the Colts, I recalled two things in particular: The January, ’99 AFCE championship game in Denver, and Lightning Loops, the legendary roller coaster that was a prominent feature at Great Adventure, back in the 80’s. I guess the metaphor fits, because when watching this team play, you’re always in for some thrills, chills and spills.

There are lows that accentuate the highs; You experience an adrenaline rush at halftime; You have the rug pulled out from under your feet in the 4th quarter; You experience a slight rebound, and then the ride is over. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We watch this team for the same reason Charlie Brown always falls for Lucy’s ruse. Cool hand Luke escapes- knowing he’ll get caught. There isn’t a means to an end; it’s just for the thrill of it all. Why do we do it over and over, and over again? Why do we keep getting back on the mechanical bull? It’s for the rush. It’s a rush that frontrunners will never experience. You have these jokers, who jump from one bandwagon to the next- the 49ers to the Cowboys to the Rams, to the Patriots… Always rooting for the team they know is going to win. And more often than not, they usually do. What thrill is in that? There is none. The thrill is in knowing the odds, going against them, and inevitably beating them.I’m not comparing the AFCE championship game to a week 4 regular season game in terms of magnitude, but in terms of the almost identical emotional highs and lows experienced at similar parts of each game. The more recent game was actually more exhilarating, because there was no kickoff return in the 4th quarter for a Jets TD and lead, in the AFCE championship game. That game was a downer for the whole second half. This game was a non-stop roller coaster from start to finish.

With the exception of a Pennington fumble, which turned into a TD for the Colts, The Jets hung tough the first half, against the heavily favored visitor, holding them to a 14-14 draw. Halftime provided a few moments of euphoria, but if the first half was a mountain high, the second half was a valley low- and I’m talking the Mariana Trench, here.

I take great solace in the fact that the Jets didn’t lose the game because of horrible coaching. Eric Mangini and his coaching staff, particularly Brian Schottenheimer and Mike Westhoff, designed a great game plan. The only thing a coaching staff can (and should) guarantee is that their players are prepared. They were. The Jets were not undone by their own folly, as were the ’98 players in Denver – there wasn’t a fumble, or an INT, or a muff, in the second half.

What inevitably did us in was the obligatory phantom call that everybody that has played Peyton Manning and the Colts, is familiar with. A 4th quarter PI call on Justin Miller gave the Colts a fresh set of downs in the Jets red zone, and inevitably the lead.

The Jets had been playing the Colts tough, the whole game. The Colts probably thought they were coming into the Meadowlands for an easy win, and when things didn’t keep going their way, they became frustrated and were flagged accordingly for unnecessary roughness, holding, and pass interference. The refs always look to even up the ledger, but with the Colts, they always seem to go that extra mile with those real special calls that all but hand them the game, on a silver platter. The Steelers were able to overcome one of those calls, last year in the playoffs. Unfortunately, on Sunday, the Jets could not.

The Jets didn’t lose because of their horrible defense, particularly against the run. The Jets defense has given up an average of 147 ypg on the ground, and was still 2-1 in their first three games. In spite of giving up 160 yards on the ground against the Colts, they would have been 3-1 if not for the flag on Miller in the 4th quarter.

Just to wrap this up, here is my take on Mangini’s decision to go for it on 4th and goal with the score still tied at 14-14. The Colts are averaging 30 PPG.

Do the math.  

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