A Weekend of Wonder: Jets Playoff Win and Uncledom
- Updated: January 10, 2010
As I sat in a quiet corner of a D.C. hospital hoping not to be booted by rehabbing elderly, I took a few seconds to enjoy the moment, to take it all in and reflect. There, as darkness set in outside the corner windows, I stared at a sign on the refrigerator declaring “Patient Food Only” and tried to think of which was crazier. The fact that my sister (four years my junior) had just made me an uncle, or that the Jets had just advanced to the second round of the playoffs in a season where nary a month ago all appeared to be lost. I shook my head as a smile edged across my face and thought for a second it was undoubtedly the latter – though the combination of the two led to perma-grin.
For my sis, the only thing that shocked me was how spry and chipper she seemed to remain after bringing a nearly 9-lb. nose tackle into this world. In retrospect, her performance was quite predictable. Although a rookie herself, she’d always shown a maternal instinct that screamed championship-caliber. The Jets? Not so much. So, as we searched floors after being denied large-screen TV access by some surly-looking characters on the 4th floor equipped with canes and walkers and seemingly unafraid to wield them, the normal pangs of doubt and uncertainty as to which Jets team would show up in Cincinnati swirled in nervous anticipation.
Eventually, we settled into a tucked-away nook near the rehab center and vowed to defend our turf no matter the challengers. And, truth be told, the butterflies slowly flew away. Because, at this point, it was all gravy. A cute-as-a-button nephew was peacefully asleep downstairs, and in a shockingly rare occurrence it felt good to be a Jets fan. We had our ticket to the dance and looked quite sharp in our tuxedos. It would have been enough. But of course just getting there never feels quite enough, no matter the circumstances and improbability of it all. No matter how content I was with the distance this team had traveled, to see it end in Cincy would be at least a tad disappointing – particularly if they failed to play to potential. Not after seeing them pound the same Bengals team in the frigidness of the Meadowlands.
There, as we drowsily watched the tiny tube TV perched next to the microwave on the formica counter, the often unthinkable began to unfold. The stingy defense maintained itself (for awhile). Chad Ochocinco failed to run wild. The running game continued to pound. Our placekicker handled his new punting duties admirably. The franchise looked like it. The Jets had the blueprint unfurled on the table and were following it to a “t.” Still, the demons lingered. The spread never seemed wide enough.
Moments came about, from Feely’s erased field goals to Ochocinco’s tip-toeing endzone reception that seemed for an instant a sure touchdown, that convinced me (and likely many Jets fans) that it would all crumble again in infuriating fashion. But time and again a strange thing happened. The rookie mistake didn’t come. The mind-numbingly moronic penalty wasn’t committed. The shoe that seems destined to fall at the most inopportune times for the Jets simply never dropped.
The Jets survived. They won going away and live to play another day. Philip Rivers looms out West, and the Bolts are playing as well as anyone in football (the Cowboys the potential lone exception). Yet, stranger things have happened. Norv Turner may have turned that corner…or not. Nate Kaeding likely still recalls the last Jets playoff visit to San Diego. Plus, running and defense are supposed to keep you in games come this time of year. The Jets ability to do those things makes Rexy think we’re favorites. Who am I to tell him his wrong? Just this weekend I was witness to two wonders. I know one uncle who will be ready to watch another next Sunday.