by Vince Graylady, Sports Columnist for the New York Times
The unkempt hordes were treated to something akin to a complete victory when the Jets beat the New England Patriots Sunday 28-14. There were smiles of relief on the faces on fans departing the stadium Jets fans are compelled to share with New York's older, more storied franchise. But Serious Questions regarding the injuries to Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Jason Taylor remain, as do concerns over the very existence of a team that a better class of New Yorkers regard as one would the development of a neck goiter.
The New York Jets were very nearly the same team that lost to the Baltimore Ravens last week - unimaginative, incoherent, bloated, loutish, confused, disoriented, and profane - yet somehow, through the mystical works of a universe guided by what appeared to be chance, the defense continued its relentless pressure against Tom Brady in almost the same way that the better-known New York franchise did two Super Bowls ago. Whether or not the Jets' defense would have been distracted by the presence of either of the women with whom Brady has produced children is uncertain. The verdict still remains on the attention span of such a Jets team, and thankfully Bill Belichick presented his detested rival with merely the Patriots' expected lineup. In this sense, one cannot entirely see the Jets' two-touchdown win as a complete victory over a vastly superior Patriots club.
Randy Moss scored his 150th touchdown, a stellar catch made with one hand - gesture that seemed destined to rank among the best of his Hall of Fame career. Meanwhile, the Jets did some things right. They completed passes, their offseason acquisition gained 76 yards on the ground, and the secondary appeared to be in the right places at the right times. That the Patriots did not score the entire second half signified that either the Patriots were doing poorly or that the Jets did well. Jets fans - corpulent, uneducated and rough - may have regarded it as a victory. Less partisan onlookers were prone to scratch it up to an unfortunate stroke of good fortune.
"When Moss got behind Revis to make a one-handed catch for a 34-yard touchdown," wrote George Vescey of this same publication, "the Jets had seemed to be in big trouble in their new home, with their own glib words coming back to haunt them." But even Vescey was forced to agree that the Jets had the game in hand by the fourth quarter. And to do it, "they didn’t need the reality-show language and bluster they exhibited on the television show Hard Knocks....The Jets did not need to make a spectacle of themselves, either on television or in their own locker room," he added, shaking his head in disappointment at the Jets' apparent victory.
The behavior of their coach, their assistants, and players in the presence of Ines Sainz continues to haunt the team. Even avid fans like Martin Roche, whose Jets blog has changed names too many times for the Times to count, has spoken out against the organized harassment of Sainz: "This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder why football itself is of more importance to me than issues of sanitation in the Third World."
The Times spends a great deal on its football coverage itself when its award-winning columnist Nicholas Kristoff is practically earning a Nobel Prize for Peace, and it makes the men who cover the Jets feel a crisp sense of shame that a good showing over the Patriots cannot help quell. In fact, Jets victories only seem to make it worse. The question is not so much whether or not the Jets can sustain their success without Darrelle Revis (a question they were wondering during training camp anyway) but whether or not the success the Jets have will force to compel a reader of the Times to imagine the distinctly unpleasant possibility witnessing a victory parade down Broadway filled with heavy men in Broadway Joe shirts.
Fortunately history tells us that the Jets won't get that far. Nevertheless, Times sources inside the Bloomberg government indicate that the current state of the city's economy would prohibit such a celebration.
Unless, of course, the Yankees repeat.