The Patriots and Jets have engaged in a series of great contests over the years, and Sunday’s meeting at Gillette Stadium should be another special one. To get you ready, here’s our take on the Top 10 most memorable games in the history of the rivalry, listed in chronological order.
Oct. 18, 1976: On the field, the Patriots crushed the Jets, rolling to a 41-7 “Monday Night” blowout of New York at Schaefer Stadium behind running backs Andy Johnson, Don Calhoun, and Sam Cunningham and quarterback Steve Grogan, who amassed 330 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the night. Off the field, it was mayhem: According to reports, one fan went over the top of the stadium. Another fan was being treated for a heart attack, while another was urinating on the EMT. A handful of those arrested spent the night on the front lawn of the Foxboro Police Station — there was no room left in the jails.
Sept. 9, 1979: Quarterback Steve Grogan tossed five touchdown in a 56-3 rout of the Jets at Schaefer Stadium, a record that stood until Tom Brady broke it against the Dolphins in 2007. This game was perhaps more notable because of what happened off the field — after the contest, Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough and cornerback Raymond Clayborn got into a fight.
Dec. 28, 1985: In the first ever playoff meeting between the Patriots and Jets took place in the Meadowlands. New England spotted New York a 7-3 lead, but roared back for 23 points to capture a 26-14 win. It was the first playoff win for the franchise since beating Buffalo in the 1963 postseason.
Nov. 10, 1996: In a dramatic, back-and-forth contest that started as an early rout (the Jets jumped to a 21-0 lead), the Patriots answered with a great second half from quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who threw for three touchdown passes — including a late two-yard scoring strike to Keith Byars — to come away with the 31-27 victory. (A late New York scoring bid came to an end on a Lawyer Milloy interception.)
Sept. 14, 1997: In Bill Parcells’ return to Foxboro with the Jets after three seasons with the Patriots, running back Curtis Martin was, in the words of teammate Chris Slade, “a beast,” finishing with 40 carries for 199 yards and powering New England to a second-half lead. However, the Jets hung in and eventually tied the game at 24 with 31 seconds left in regulation. New York then forced a fumble on the kickoff, but the Patriots’ Mike Jones blocked Jets kicker John Hall’s 30-yard field-goal attempt. New England eventually won it in overtime on a 34-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri.
Sept. 12, 1999: In a wild season-opener at the Meadowlands, Jets starting quarterback Vinny Testaverde tore his left achilles and was replaced by former Patriots punter Tom Tupa. The Patriots scored 17 third-quarter points, but New York came roaring back to take a 28-27 lead in the fourth quarter. That set the stage for Adam Vinatieri, who booted a game-winning field goal late to give New England a 30-28 win.
Sept. 23, 2001: In the first game back since Sept. 11, the Patriots and Jets met in an emotionally charged contest at Foxboro Stadium. The game was a mostly sluggish affair, but New York held a 10-3 lead late into the game. That’s Jets linebacker Mo Lewis blasted New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe, knocking him out of the game and leaving the Patriots to lean on an untested youngster named Tom Brady. New York ended up with the win, but New England had found itself a new quarterback.
Oct. 24, 2004: The Patriots defeated the Jets, 13-7, at Gillette Stadium, extending their winning streak to 21 games at the expense of New York. Tom Brady completed 20-of-29 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown, while Corey Dillon ran for 115 yards on 22 attempts for the Patriots, who set a new NFL record with their 18th consecutive regular season victory and also improved to 6-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Sept. 9, 2007: The 2007 season opener, this was the Patriots’ debut of Randy Moss, who electrified the Meadowlands with a 51-yard reception midway through the third quarter, and ended up with nine catches for 183 yards and one touchdown in a rout of the Jets, 38-14. This one was more familiar, however, as the game that jumpstarted the “Spygate” controversy — NFL security confiscated the video camera used by New England video assistant Matt Estrella.
Nov. 13, 2008: Matt Cassel’s finest hour. The Jets jumped to an 18-point lead, but behind Cassel — who ended up with 400 yards and three touchdowns — the Patriots jumped back into it. Cassel hit Moss with a dart with one second left in regulation to tie the game. Favre and New York won the game, driving down the field in the extra session (escaping a third-and-fifteen deep in their territory) to pick up the 34-31 win in overtime. But Cassel’s performance remains his best of the 2008 season.