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Friday, November 14, 2008

Jets 34 Those of Whom We Do Not Speak 31 (OT)

Well, I...OK.

I feel like I just woke up from a bad dream and was just told that my football team just beat the reigning AFC Champions in overtime.

Oh snap. Look... Well, I'll be damned.

I'm not kidding. At approximately 10 pm - at which point the Jets tenuously lead the Patriots 24-21 in the fourth quarter - I could no longer keep my eyes open. It might have helped if I had actually been watching the game. But again, I do not have the NFL Network. I am waiting for the league to give their network profits to the retired players pension fund. I could not receive the game online during the first half because, for reasons I cannot fathom, our wireless was completely non-functional. So I followed the game on my wife's BlackBerry. Refresh every 15 seconds. Thus, I experienced an explosion of athletic brilliance in the following way:

NE: Gostowski 31 yard field goal. NYJ 10 NE 6 (refresh)
NE: Gostowski 31 yard field goal. NYJ 10 NE 6 (refresh)
NE: Gostowski 31 yard field goal. NYJ 10 NE 6 (refresh)
NE: Gostowski 31 yard field goal. NYJ 10 NE 6 (refresh)
NE: Gostowski 31 yard field goal. NYJ 10 NE 6 (refresh)
NYJ: L. Johnson 92 yard return. NYJ 17 NE 6 (refresh)

At this I unconsciously made the same sound a squad car makes when it's trying to creep through an intersection without stopping (a move not unlike Leon Washington finding the crease through 11 charging men): Woop-WAHP. Odd. You have to enjoy Deion Sanders' postgame comment on Washington's kickoff return for a touchdown. In addition to noting the obvious, that Leon went untouched, Deion also exclaimed, "You know, look at the vision. Look at the awareness." Almost as if Leon Washington were a spiritual leader, or maybe an abstract expressionist painter. I will not argue with that.

Anyway, neither the BlackBerry nor the NFL.com game tracker could capture the continued weirdness of yet another reception of a pass (against the Patriots) with one's helmet, here seen in a reception by Jerricho Cotchery, who pressed the ball between helmet and the inside space of his right arm. I'm going to suggest that Cotchery's catch was above and beyond David Tyree's Super Bowl catch in that it was one-handed, or one-armed as the case may be, and with a Patriot defender's hand pushing on his facemask. The irony was that after it was declared a reception, Cotchery rolled over and dropped the ball as he tried to release it.

(Greg Bishop's NYT article the next day suggests that Bishop was actually text messaging David Tyree during the game. Was that during the game, Greg? The entire piece is written a little like a chapter from a middle school reading level Punt, Pass and Kick book, with Jets players popping in and out of the action to discuss their reactions to the events of the game. I mean, Bishop uses post-game remarks as if they sideline commentary.)

So what did I miss when I went to bed? A Cotchery fumble. Thomas Jones scores after a lucky penalty. Kris Jenkins' critical late game stop on Cassel. Randy Moss beats his man and is overthrown in the end zone. ANOTHER THOMAS JONES RUN UP THE MIDDLE THAT COULD HAVE SAVED THE GAME BUT DID NOT. Randy Moss' incredible catch against Ty Law, who now wears #22. All of this in one quarter.

And then Favre's extraordinary drive. That's where the dream turns from mirroring life to revising it. There are dreams that you have that seem very much like reality, and then some where the absurd reality fulfills an improbable wish. Or maybe the dream goes so far as to dabble in the impossible. When I was a kid I dreamt that the Jets would someday play in the Super Bowl at Shea Stadium. Thus the Improbable and the Impossible. Favre's drive, with its recovery from a 3rd and 15 situation, reflected a different kind of Jets season from the one that doubters like myself expected or continue to expect. It is one where the Jets are down and then regroup and recover. Again, in addition to seeming like a Young Readers' account of the game, Greg Bishop (consistent with the Times' Jets reporting, post-Eskanazi) takes pains to constantly remind us that THE JETS ALWAYS BLOW IT, but look - this time the Jets won! It made me ashamed of my own compulsion for doubt.

But then we can't just associate this habitual doubt of the Jets with such haughty voices as the Times'. After all, my wife turned briefly from the game to KYW news radio here in Philly, where they announced, "In sports, the Jets have now tied it up in their game against the Patriots. Late in the fourth quarter it's now 24-24 in Foxboro!" Of course, it was Those Of Whom We Do Not Speak that had come from behind a 24-6 Jets lead to tie it. Everybody puts the Jets behind. It's a hard habit to break.

But now I'm compelled to say aloud in response, "Look at the vision, look at the awareness..!" If anything, the dancing, leaping Brett Favre on the field and sidelines is the pied piper, if not just the signal caller. By his effusive example, we are hopping to Nashville, there to meet our metaphorical makers, the Titans, if not our actual ones.

Have you noticed Brett Favre's new game-end celebratory gesture? Now alongside Red Auerbach's victory cigar and the cumbersome Gatorade cooler is Favre's victorious ass-slap. He did it to Brian Schottenheimer last week after the win over the Rams. Its recipient howled in pain. After beating the Pats, Favre reserved it for Eric Mangini, a man who has so assiduously imitated Belichick to the point of wearing his old mentor's zombified expression of evil genius. If there's one thing both men definitely need after a game is a good, swift smack in the rear. Mangini embraced Favre, gripped his helmet with both hands (a gesture women like, too) and whispered something grateful through the earhole. They separated, and as the coach made for the locker room, Favre seem to take a beat and almost whisper to himself, "Smack that guy in the ass." One hopes that after taking it, after wincing in pain, Mangini might have said to himself, "And thanks, for that too, Brett. I needed that." Yes, coach, you did, and you do.

But whose ass will Favre spank next year? I still think he'd like a chance to smack the ass of a coach that plays Green Bay twice a year. Couldn't be Detroit. Minnesota? I'd hate to think of Brett Favre in purple leggings. Chicago? No, no. Still, I think he'll jump ship at year's end, and if he does, can the Jets have Matt Cassel? Because, well, he really is that good.

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