Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Deeper Look into the Jets-Patriots Rivalry: The 1990s

The 1990s was a decade full of crazy story lines between the Jets and the Patriots. On December 15, 1991, the Pats would beat the Jets by a score of 6-3 in what was the lowest scoring game in the series, for another two years. The Jets would beat the Pats on November 28, 1993, 6-0. Oddly enough, the Jets would win their first matchup that season in a blowout, 45-7. On October 16, 1994, future Patriots coach Pete Carroll would lead the Jets to a victory over future Jets coach Bill Parcells’ Patriots in their first ever matchup against each other. Before their trip to the Super Bowl in 1997, rumors surfaced that head coach Bill Parcells was going to leave the Patriots in favor of a team that would allow him to have more front office power. After they lost the Super Bowl, Parcells resigned as head coach of the Patriots, leading Patriots owner Robert Kraft to believe that the Jets had been tampering with Parcells to bring him in and fill in their vacant head coach spot. After some back and forth and disagreement over league rules, commissioner Paul Tagliabue arranged an agreement between the two teams that would involve the Jets giving the Patriots a 3rd and a 4th round pick in the 1997 draft, a 2nd round pick in the 1998 draft, and a 1st round pick in the 1999 draft as compensation for the Jets being able to sign Bill Parcells as their head coach. The Patriots would finish the 1997 season with a 10-6 record to win the AFC East title, one game better than the 9-7 Jets. 

The next season, the Jets would sign running back Curtis Martin after he played his first three seasons with the Patriots. With Martin and new quarterback Vinny Testaverde, the Jets got off to a 2-3 start, but surged to finish the season at 12-4 earning themselves an AFC East title and a first round bye in the playoffs. The Jets would sweep the Patriots that season, but both teams would make the playoffs. The Patriots lost to the Jaguars in the AFC Wildcard round, while the Jets lost to John Elway and the Broncos in the AFC Championship game. The Jets and Pats would open the 1999 season against each other. Early in this game, Vinny Testaverde would tear his achilles and would be replaced by punter Tom Tupa, who threw 2 touchdown passes and was able to keep a 28-27 lead for the Jets until late in the 4th quarter. After two failed two-point conversions, Parcells put Jets’ emergency quarterback, Rick Mirer, into the game with about 3 minutes left to go. Mirer would then throw an interception to cornerback Ty Law, which would set up a game-winning 30-yard field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri. The Jets would fall to 4-8 that season, but would win their last 4 games behind quarterback Ray Lucas, including the final game of the 20th century in Miami on Monday Night Football (December 27, 1999, my first football game**). The decade series finished with an 11-9 Jets victory.

After the 1999 season, Bill Parcells retired from coaching (for the time being) and announced assistant coach, Bill Belichick, as his predecessor. At a press conference the following day, Belichick wrote a resignation note on a napkin saying, “I resign as HC of NYJ,” and proceeded to announce his resignation instead of his hiring. Despite rumors that the Patriots had offered Belichick their vacant head coaching spot, he referred to the Jets uncertain ownership situation (owner Leon Hess had died in the last year) as his actual reason for leaving. After some controversy similar to when the Jets wanted to sign Parcells from the Pats, the two sides made an agreement and the Jets received a 1st round pick in the 2000 draft and 4th and 7th round picks in the 2001 draft from the Patriots, but had to give the Patriots their 5th round pick in the 2001 draft and a 7th round pick in the 2002 draft.

Come back tomorrow for part 3. 

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