New Englanders take sports very seriously, and rivalries between Boston and New York teams are typically intense.
The proximity between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets was enough to get a rivalry brewing between the two.
But there are other factors that have fueled the rivalry.
The Jets and the Patriots began their professional football journeys as part of the American Football League (AFL). At that time, they were the New York Titans and Boston Patriots.
The first game ever played between the two teams was Sept. 17, 1960. And it was a wild one.
During the fourth quarter, the ball got away from Titans punter Rick Sapienza, and the Patriots recovered and ran it back for a touchdown. The Jets argued the ball was kicked, an illegal motion, but the call stood. The Patriots won 28-24.
Nothing fuels a rivalry quite like players and coaches switching teams. While players and coaches do move around in the NFL, these two teams have seen a lot of side switching, sometimes in surprising ways.
Bill Parcells was the Patriots’ head coach before he moved on to the Jets. He switched teams after the 1997 Super Bowl, which the Patriots lost to the Green Bay Packers.
Bill Belichick’s hiring as the Patriots’ head coach helped further fuel the rivalry. Belichick was supposed to take over for Parcells after Parcells’ resignation from the Jets following the 1999 season.
During a press conference, though, Belichick announced his decision to coach the Patriots instead.
Belichick has been with the Patriots since 2000 and led the team to Super Bowl titles in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
Quarterback Tom Brady became one of the greatest players in NFL history, but his long, successful career all began as a second-year quarterback entering a game due to an injury.
During the fourth quarter of a Jets-Patriots game Sept. 23, 2001, Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe ran for a first down. Just before converting the first down, he was hit hard by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis.
Bledsoe left the game injured, and the Patriots’ fate was in the hands of young Brady for the next several weeks as Bledsoe was recovering. This began Brady’s dynasty. Brady led the team to its first Super Bowl victory in 2002 and held onto his spot as starting quarterback, even after Bledsoe’s return.
Bledsoe did sub in for Brady during the 2001 AFC championship game when Brady was hurt, but Brady took over the starting quarterback role for good.
The Spygate scandal began Sept. 9, 2007, when the Jets, led by head coach Eric Mangini, a previous Belichick assistant for the Patriots, accused the Patriots of using a camera to record defensive signals.
After an investigation, Belichick was fined $500,000 and the Patriots were fined $250,000. The team also surrendered a first-round draft pick as a result of the investigation.
Jets-Patriots games have had many memorable moments.
One of them occurred on Dec. 20, 2003, when drunken former Jets quarterback Joe Namath did a sideline interview with ESPN reporter Suzy Kolber during a Patriots-Jets game. When asked about the Jets’ performance, Namath answered, “I want to kiss you. …I couldn’t care less about the team struggling.”
Namath has said the incident led him on a path of sobriety.
The “butt fumble” is another unforgettable moment from the rivalry and happened during a Thanksgiving Day game Nov. 22, 2012.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez received the snap and decided to run, quickly bumping into the backside of a teammate, resulting in a fumble. The Patriots wasted no time, grabbing the dropped ball and returning it for a touchdown. The Patriots went on to win the game 49-19.
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