There are two things you will glean from the following information if you are a Jets fan:
1. The Patriots’ dominance over your team will not last forever.
(That’s the good news.)
2. It may last a while longer. Not quite forever, maybe. But a while.
(Yes, that’s the bad news.)
Giants fans, see, know what this is all about. There was a time when they were trapped in the same division — and, thus, the same recurring version of hell — that you were. The foe in question that time was the Cowboys. From 1964-81, a period of 18 seasons, the Cowboys didn’t just dominate the Giants, they owned them.
The cruel truth: Jets are still miles behind the Patriots
Sunday’s game against the Patriots at MetLife Stadium was supposed…
In that time, the Cowboys finished with a better record and higher in the standings than the Giants 17 times; they were tied once. The Cowboys won two Super Bowls and played in three others in that stretch; in the first 17 of those seasons, the Giants never made the playoffs even once.
Most telling: In those 18 years, the Cowboys were 27-6-1 against the Giants. There were some thrashings (52-7! 42-14! 41-21!) and some near misses. But time after time, year after year, the teams played each other twice, the Giants took their beatings, and mostly wondered — time after time, year after year — how they could ever rise from the abyss and compete for a championship if they had no shot of ever beating the bullies of their own division — a team whose brains just so happened to be Tom Landry, a former Giants assistant.
Now, right away you’ll note that the Jets’ 18 seasons connecting 2001 and this season aren’t quite as bad, right? The Jets actually made the playoffs in six of those seasons — and, quite remarkably, won a playoff game against New England in January 2011.
Still, since the seminal game in September 2001 when the Jets’ Mo Lewis knocked Drew Bledsoe silly, ushering in the Tom Brady era (the Jets won that game 10-3, not incidentally), these are the numbers in what was, at one time, one of the more evenly matched rivalries in the AFC: Patriots 26, Jets 7. The Pats have finished ahead of the Jets in 17 of those 18 seasons (2002 being the lone exception).
And, time after time, year after year, Jets fans have grown to wonder how they could ever rise from the abyss and compete for a championship if they have no shot of ever beating the bullies of their own division — a team whose brains just so happened to be Bill Belichick, a former Jets assistant.
Of course, we know the Giants ultimately figured out the Cowboys. The big breakthrough came on the last day of the 1981 season, when they beat Dallas and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1963. The Cowboys weren’t fully vanquished until the mid-1980s, and then they rose again under Jimmy Johnson, but by then the Giants had gained a foothold of competence and confidence, something that at one time never seemed remotely possible.
Well, the good news is, Brady and Belichick won’t live forever. The bad news is, they are very much alive, well and active and come to MetLife Stadium in their usual rarefied spot in the AFC East, looking to get back on track after a terrible loss to the Titans and a bye week. And if you are old enough to remember what it was like when Landry and Roger Staubach used to come to town with chips on their shoulders … well, there’s a good chance it might get awfully ugly out there today.
Also: At some point the Jets are going to throw a counterpunch that lasts. At some point, this will turn around. After all, there was a point, a long time ago, when the Jets led this all-time series 54-37-1. Hard as that may be to believe now.