Friday, November 20, 2009

Putting The Jets Back in Their Place

I reminisce about Week 2 of the season and the Patriot's loss to the Jets.

     The Jets have beaten the Patriots two times in a row. The first time didn't feel quite as bad as the second. It was last season, and the Jets had Brett Favre. He's a proven great; a hall of fame lock. It made sense to lose to Favre. However, when the Pats fell in week 2 this season it was to a rookie head coach and quarterback. This stung a lot more. The Jets had a swagger and emotional fervor the Patriots hadn’t seen in a long time. They not only talked big but they backed it up, defeating New England 16-9 and holding them to 0 touchdowns. Suddenly, there was this new team climbing the ranks and asserting itself as a dominant force in the NFL just as the Patriots seemed to be slipping. It was for this reason that I paid special attention to Week 2’s Monday Night Football matchup. For those who don’t remember it was between the Colts and Dolphins.
     For some reason I wanted the Colts to win so badly that night - very strange for a Pats fan. My friends would disown me if they knew yet I found myself whole heartedly rooting for Indianapolis anyway. I was cheering and yelling as if it were the Patriots themselves. Something wasn’t right. I was supposed to hate Peyton Manning. The Colts lost a head coach, offensive coordinator, and Anthony Gonzalez. They were supposed to suffer this year and I remembered being so happy about that. Now I found myself standing up and cheering when Manning threw a touchdown pass to Dallas Clark the first play of the game. In one way it made sense. The Dolphins are in the AFC east, so obviously I wanted them to lose, even if it was to the Colts. In another way it didn’t. My joy in watching Manning pick apart the Miami defense was too much. My fear when the Fins were in reach of winning was too real. A tie would have settled any of my Divisional concerns, but I didn't want that. I wanted the Colts to win it.
     After that loss to the Jets I was worried about new teams I had always looked at with pity rising up. I was concerned that these revamped teams would overthrow the established order I had grown to respect over the years. Now this seems silly but in my defense this was early in the season. The Patriots had just almost lost to the Buffalo Bills and then actually lost to New York. The Colts were out Tony Dungy and more. The Steelers were having their fourth quarter struggles and Troy Polamalu was out. The elite teams weren’t looking too good and I didn’t want the bad teams to get better. I didn’t want the league to change. I was comfortable with the tense and competitive rivalry with the Colts and didn’t need this new Jets team to step up. It was the new versus the old. That’s why I wanted the Colts to win that Monday Night and that’s why I was treating them as if they were the Patriots. In a sense, they were. The Colts were one of the elite teams too and even though I hated them I didn’t want that to change. The Dolphins then, who went from 1-15 in ‘07 to division leader last year, were the perfect example of one of these new teams attempting to upset the pre-established order. I wanted the Colts to beat them to reassure me that things would stay as they always were.
     The Jets made me a Colts fan for a night and for that I can never forgive them. It was all under false pretenses too. The Jets have now lost 5 of their last 6 and fallen to third in the division. Mark Sanchez is tied for 3rd most interceptions in the NFL. It’s obvious they are not going to be the new dominating force in the league. The Colts are 9-0 and the Steelers are still as respectable as ever. The Patriots are division leaders and Brady is looking like his old self again. This Sunday, New England will take on the Jets for the second time this season. This is a perfect opportunity for the elite team to get revenge and put New York back in their place. With the offense clicking again and Wes Welker back in the line up, the Patriots will do just that. Just like the Colts in week 2, the Pats will prove that the great teams of the decade haven’t fallen yet and that New York has a lot of work to do if they’re going to take away their throne.

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