The Jets and Bills reversed roles today, as it is the Jets who are usually brought down to earth by the Bills. Not so here now. The Jets play mostly the same game week in and out. Brett Favre wins more often than not but throws truly risky passes that sometimes lead eventually or directly to touchdowns for the other side. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington earn more passing yards than rushing yards. Darrelle Revis has a big game. In the red zone, the Jets become mysterious and frustrating. Eric Mangini becomes physically larger. Many dumb penalties for the Jets. Illegal procedure, late hits, unnecessary roughness, delay of game. But the Bills played the more frustrating game. Two grinding drives produced nothing for them, almost as if, for this one game, I were watching the '07 Jets play the '08 team.
But they beat Buffalo, just. Several key moments stand out. Leon Washington incurs a penalty on Buffalo by having one foot out of bounds when he receives an inbounds punt. Darrelle Revis breaks up a certain Bills third down touchdown attempt by timing his coverage of the pass perfectly. Eric Barton plays an unheralded but brilliant game, with seven tackles. Kris Jenkins nearly concusses Trent Edwards as he hurls him to the ground in a perfectly legal sack. The Jets' offense may not be running perfectly, but the Jets' defense was the best I've seen all year.
The big play was obviously Abram Elam's interception in the red zone and his 92 yard return for a touchdown. This is exactly the kind of play the Jets needed, and they got it. I've been waiting for a moment like this to point out the odd juxtaposition of two players in Jets history who have worn #27, one of whom is Abram Elam. Consider that if the letters of his name are reshuffled and then listed last name first and first last, then "Male, Mabra" is another way of describing Ron Mabra who also wore #27 for the Jets, in 1977. The evidence is in our entry on the number. Of course anyone who knows the name Abram Elam might also know a few additional things about him that make this anagrammatic observation a little less charming.
Anyway, my wife and I have a new policy on weekends, the "Sixty Percent Solution." We operate on 60% of everything negative - dread, anxiety, annoyance, anger - none of which is allowed to exceed the 60% level. This allows for neither the denial of a feeling nor its exaggeration. Elam's touchdown brought it to about 75%, which allowed me to make an audible, "N'yeah. Yeah. Yeah!" This was the loudest I got all game.
My wife got loud when Brett Favre threw an interception for a touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter. I had decided to use the end of a Bills drive as the opportunity to take the shower I had missed in the morning, so I missed the ensuing interception that went all the way for the Bills. When I heard her disheartened response, I emerged from the bathroom just in time to see the play end. I swore under my breath. My wife suddenly exclaimed at the sight of me without my Joe Namath jersey. Actually I was without anything at all. Her reaction was one that a long-married person gives to the nudity of her partner - one of muted interest, tinged with novelty of seeing him in the nude for the first time, long ago. This reaction was at more than 60%, which, to be honest is all that a guy can ask for.