With what seems to be the most highly anticipated Monday Night Football game of the season coming up this week, I thought I’d take a deep look into the Jets-Patriots rivalry through the decades. This is the first of 3 parts. First is the 1960s through 1980s. Saturday will be the 1990s. Sunday will be the 2000s. My preview for the game will be posted Monday afternoon. Check back each day for the next part.
We begin this journey through time on September 17, 1960. On this day, the Titans of New York hosted the Boston Patriots at the Polo Grounds in their first ever AFL matchup. The Titans took a 24-7 3rd quarter lead before giving up 21 unanswered points as the Patriots won the first matchup in the rivalry, 28-21. Boston would go on to win 7 of the first 12 games in the series. In their first matchup in 1966, The New York Jets and Boston Patriots would have their only tie in 50 years. In their second matchup of the 1966 season, which the Jets won 38-28 at Shea Stadium, the Jets knocked the Patriots out of playoff contention in the last game of the season. The Jets would close out the 60s on a 7 game winning streak against the Patriots, winning the decade series 12-7-1, which became 9 games after the 1970 season. As we all know, the 1968 season was a magical one for the New York Jets, who won the AFL Championship and then defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III for their first and only Super Bowl championship.
The 1970s would also belong to the Jets as they won the series 12-8. On November 21, 1976, the Jets would have one of their most horrendous games ever. Joe Namath threw 6 interceptions and backup Richard Todd threw a 7th. The Jets also lost 3 fumbles and lost the game 38-24. In a weird case of foreshadowing, on October 29, 1978, the Pats beat the Jets 55-21. Jets head coach Walt Michaels felt that the Patriots were somehow deciphering his coaching staff's signals and suspected that a rival team had told these signals to the Patriots (Spygate 1.0?). Later that season, the Houston Oilers came back against the Patriots, who at one point held a 23-0 lead, to beat them 26-23, and there was speculation that the Jets had told Oilers coaches about the Patriots signals. In what still stands as the largest margin of victory in the rivalry, the Patriots defeated the Jets 56-3 on September 9, 1979.
The 1980s would be the first decade that the Patriots would take over the Jets. In 1982, a player’s strike cut the season short, so the Jets and Patriots would only meet once, a 31-7 victory by the Jets. On December 28, 1985, the Patriots would visit Giants Stadium for the first ever postseason matchup between the two rivals. The Patriots would win 26-14 in what was their first playoff victory since defeating the Buffalo Bills in a 1963 elimination game to decide the Eastern Division championship. One of the more entertaining games of the rivalry occurred on October 12, 1986, when the Jets travelled to Sullivan Stadium. The Jets would explode to a 24-0 halftime lead, but would allow Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan to throw for 401 yards and 3 touchdowns which led a big Patriots comeback. With the score 31-24 in favor of the Jets, the Patriots were driving down the field late in the game when a 31-yard reception by Irving Fryar was fumbled and recovered by the Jets to secure the victory. 1987 would be a year of blowouts in this series, starting with a Jets home victory, 43-24, and ending with a Patriots home victory, 42-20. The decade ended with a 12-8 series win for the Pats.