New York Jets Will Always Have 1/12/69

  As the New York Jets finish one of their worst seasons ever, the bright moments in the organization remain far and few. With that said the 1969 Super Bowl will always be the face of the franchise. Jet fans get somewhat embarrassed when they have to refer to a game played 52 years ago. What’s worse is that fans pride themselves with their 28-21 playoff victory over the Patriots in 2011 as one of their most recent highlights. 

  The Jets were coming off a 8-5-1 record in 1967. During that season the team showed signs that they had something though they did lose their last three out of four games. Their defense was being formulated to become a potentially excellent unit. On offense Joe Namath threw for 4007 yards in 14 games which was an unheard of number then. As the 1968 season approached there were still questions if Namath had the smarts to win games rather then to pad his own statistics. The season started off well with the Jets beating the Chiefs and the Patriots. But it was the third game, a loss to the Bills 37-35 that created doubt about the Jets flashy quarterback. Namath threw 4 touchdown passes but it was his 5 interceptions including 2 pick sixes that opened up talk questioning how far he could take the team. The Jets came back with a win against the San Diego Chargers but the following week the Jets loss to the Denver Broncos 21-13 and there were even a few rumors that the Jets might bench Namath after he had his second five interception game in two weeks.

  Namath continued to be the starter and after that Denver game he began to change his approach in each game. He didn’t necessarily count on the rushing game more but he mixed it in better.  The running and passing game began to compliment each other with incredible balance. He was more selective with his passes. One telling stat is in the first seven games he threw 14 interceptions but in the last seven games he only threw 3.

  After finishing the regular season 11-3 they played the Oakland Raiders at Shea Stadium on December 29th 1968. This game remains one of the favorites among Jet fans. Two classic AFL quarterbacks, Daryle Lamonica and Namath squared off off at Shea Stadium. Lamonica won the battle throwing for 401 yards but Namath helped the Jets win the war throwing for 266 yards with 3 TD passes. An interception by Namath in the fourth quarter led to a Raider lead but he then led the Jets on a 68 yard drive in just 55 seconds hitting Don Maynard for the go ahead score. The highlight of the game was an incredible 52-yard pass to Maynard as he contoured his body incredibly, changing his direction and finally catching the ball.

  Super Bowl 3 was the third matchup between the AFL and NFL. The Jets were 18 point underdogs against the powerful Baltimore Colts. Leading up to the game Namath was in his element in Miami followed by the press day and night. It was his famous guarantee of a Jets victory that captured headlines everywhere. The Colts were 13-1 in the regular season and avenged their only loss to the Cleveland Browns shutting them out 34-0 in the playoffs.The Jets beat the Colts 16-7 in this historic game. Namath was precise in his passing and led the Jets up and down the field.

  Matt Snell who many though should have been MVP opened the scoring with a touchdown run. He ended up rushing for 121 yards. The Jets opened up a 16-0 lead as Colt quarterback Earl Morrall threw there interceptions. Namath was 17-28 for 206 yards and was named MVP.  Kicker Jim Turner kicked three field goals. If you look at the game stats, they were very close on offense with the Jets getting 337 net yards and the Colts getting 324 net yards. What went under the radar that very little was ever talked about was the time of possession. The Jets had the ball for 36:10 and the Colts 23:50. It was this and the turnovers with the Jets intercepting the Colts four times (3 by Morrall, 1 by Unitas) that really put the Jets in the victory parade.

  I was fortunate to have lived through the Super Bowl season and witnessed this great victory. As the Jets seem almost grounded for the last ten years, we finally have a chance to get back in the right direction. It has been a long and arduous journey. I’ve followed the New York Jets since 1964 and despite more down than ups, the Jets will always have 1/12/69 and no one can take that day away! Better times are ahead Jet fans! I guarantee it!

Marty Schupak has been a New York Jets football fan since 1964. His blog and Podcast are both at:

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