By Peter Schwartz
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I’m not silly enough to compare a football game to a national tragedy and the loss of life. However, after the events of September 11, 2001, many people around the country and especially in our area turned to sports as an escape from what was going on in the world.
So it was fitting that on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, New York showed courage, stayed together and rallied.
The Jets, that is, coming from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Cowboys 27-24 on what was an emotional night at MetLife Stadium.
“This was amazing,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “It doesn’t get much better than this, especially the way we got it done. You saw the resolve this football team has. I spoke earlier in the week about the kind of pressure I felt, and I’m sure our players felt it as well.”
There was a very touching pre-game ceremony that included the unfurling of a field-long American flag. First responders along with members of the Jets and Cowboys held the flag.
“I felt honored,” said LaDainian Tomlinson. “I really did. Those were the guys that did the groundwork. Recovery, first responders. The guys got in and did the dirty work, and I felt honored to be standing next to them.”
Former President George W. Bush was on hand with his wife Laura and conducted the coin toss. Since Bush is from Texas, I guess it was appropriate that the Cowboys won the toss.
After Lady Antebellum sung the National Anthem, it was time for football.
But the Jets sleepwalked through most of the first half, somewhat reminiscent of last year’s season opener against the Ravens. The only difference is that this year the Jets found a way to get things going.
A touchdown before halftime gave the Jets some momentum going in the third quarter.
The Cowboys would build a 14-point lead after three quarters. In the fourth quarter, Mark Sanchez hit Plaxico Burress on a 26-yard touchdown to bring the Jets within 7.
Burress was playing in his first game since 11/23/08 after spending 20 months in prison.
“It feels good to finally go out and play a regular season game,” said Burress. “It’s definitely a special time for my family and myself.”
Burress gave the touchdown ball to his son. He had 4 catches for 72 yards.
Then, after an exchange of turnovers, the Cowboys were getting set to punt the ball back to the Jets with a little over five minutes to go in the game.
On this special night, the Jets’ special teams took over.
Joe McKnight blocked Mat McBriar’s punt and Isaiah Trufant ran it back 18 yards for the game-tying touchdown. These two players are great stories. McKnight had a horrible training camp last year and didn’t play much during the regular season. You could argue that his future with the team was in doubt. But he stretched out and made a terrific play to block the punt.
“It really wasn’t supposed to be for me,” admitted McKnight. “It was supposed to be for Eric Smith. It just so happened that it opened up for me so I had to take advantage of it.”
And take advantage he did.
And how about Trufant? Last week, this guy was on a plane back home to Seattle after getting cut by the Eagles. He had no idea that the Jets have picked him up. So the former Arena Leaguer and UFL start flew back to New Jersey and shortly after getting off the plane, he played in the Jets pre-season finale against the Eagles.
Sunday night, he was clearly in the right place at the right time.
“Your eyes light up and you pick up the ball and run,” said Trufant. “I saw daylight and fans cheering.”
It was a night when there were many heroes on the Jets. Darrelle Revis picked off a Tony Romo pass in the final minute. That set up Nick Folk’s game-winning 50-yard field goal against his former team.
“I think it was more emotional as far as 9/11 goes, than playing the Cowboys,” said Folk. “That’s the honest truth. I felt a lot of emotions about it when we were holding the flag out there and all that stuff we were doing pre-game. The fans were great tonight. They did a great job and we’re just happy to come out with a win.”
It was a wonderful comeback on a sacred day. It was far from a thing of beauty, but it exemplified the fight of this team. However, it also points out that they have plenty of work to do.
The offensive line didn’t give Sanchez much protection all night and it’s clear that the entire offense still has to get on the same page. Defensively, the Jets came up with some big plays and still had some trouble getting off the field.
In the end, it was a perfect way to cap off the night. New York rallies and stands tall. Yeah, I know it’s just a football game. But the Jets wanted badly to win this game for New York. They brought smiles to the faces of the Gang Green faithful.
On a day like the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it was hard for people to smile at anything. But for a moment, the Jets gave New York (and New Jersey) a reason to celebrate.
The Cowboys had been 240-0-1 all-time when leading by 14 points or more in the fourth quarter.
Make that 240-1-1.
“It just shows you the resolve of our football team,” said Ryan. “You talk about a team effort – that was it. There is no doubt.”
Throughout their history, the Jets haven’t been synonymous with fourth quarter comebacks like Sunday night. It was the first time that they came back from 14 points in the fourth quarter since “The Monday Night Miracle” in 2001.
And they picked a special day to do it again.
“I think it says a lot about our team,” said Burress. “We were down 14 points going into the fourth quarter. Especially with everything that was going on today. What this day symbolizes, 9/11, 10-year anniversary. We kind of emulate what this city is all about, just sticking together, being resilient.”
It was only third time in franchise history that the Jets rallied from a deficit of 14 or more points in the fourth quarter. The other time was on 11/21/83 when the Jets outscored the Saints 17-0 in the fourth quarter to win 31-28.
Mark Sanchez passed for 335 yards, one yard short of his career high of 336 at Detroit last season.
“It was a good fight and an emotional win,” said Sanchez. “I’m just proud of the way our guys hung in and rallied after a couple of mistakes.”
Sanchez threw a pick and lost a fumble in the game. But he made enough plays to give the Jets a chance.
Everyone has been crying for the Jets to figure out a way to get more sacks. Not a bad way to start 2011. They sacked Tony Romo four times including the first full regular season sack by Mike DeVito.
As far as the Ryan Bowl goes, Rex now leads Rob 6-3 with Rex winning all four games in the NFL.
Here’s something from the “Can You Believe This?” department. The Jets did not have a penalty in the game. It was the sixth time that has happened in franchise history. The last time was 11/11/01 in a 27-7 win over the Chiefs at Giants Stadium.
The Jets are now 3-7 against the Cowboys all time. This was their first win since beating the Cowboys in Dallas 22-21 o n 12/19/99.
The Jets moved their “Ring Of Honor.” It’s still along the bottom of the upper deck but has moved from the end zone to the sideline. The names of Weeb Ewbank, Winston Hill, Joe Klecko, Curtis Martin, and Joe Namath have joined by signs saying “Bring It Home” and “Play Like A Jet.”
When did those two signs get inducted into the Ring Of Honor?
The halftime ceremony was very moving. MetLife Stadium switched into concert mode with all of the lights turned off. Family members of 9/11 victims, represented by Tuesday’s Children, formed the footprints of the World Trade Center and there were beams of light from each football that went in the air over the stadium.
Actor Robert De Niro then narrated a message created by those family members. Following the reading, “Five For Fighting” performed “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” a song that, for many people, became an anthem following the 9/11 attacks.
I’m writing this following a horrible experience but the intent is to help out YOU THE FAN in the future. I had Jets season tickets for ten years and for many of those games held small tailgate parties using ONLY ONE SPOT in the parking lot at Giants Stadium. I know from past experience that its Meadowlands Sports Complex policy that those holding tailgate parties use only one spot. That rule has never really been enforced.
Upon my arrival at the Meadowlands for Sunday’s game, it took me a while to find a place to park in a lot that needs a special pass but it used by both the media and fans.
Why did it take so long?
Numerous people were using more than one spot for tailgate parties. I don’t know if many of you think that this is a big deal, but if you do, I think you should contact the Jets or the sports complex to complain because I have. The Jets maintain that there are enough spots for everyone but if people are going to use more than one spot for a tailgate party, its going to take longer and longer to find a spot.
Just a thought!
The Jets return to practice on Wednesday as they begin preparations for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. The Jags rallied past the Titans 16-14 in Jacksonville. Former Jet Dwight Lowery sealed the victory by picking off Matt Hasselbeck late in the game.
That’s all for now! Check back later in the week for more!
What did you think of the Jets’ tremendous win on Sunday? Let us know in the comments below…