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Here is the second in a series of superteams smackdowns (click here to see the first). It’s the battle of the ultimate underdogs. The 1968 Jets defeated the mighty NFL champion Baltimore Colts. And the 2007 Giants upset the unbeatable New England Patriots. Joe Namath made The Guarantee. David Tyree made The Catch. If these two teams matched up, who would win? Would they out-underdog each other? Would anybody even be favored?

Weeb Ewbank’s Jets finished in first place in the AFL East, with an 11-3 record. They were, of course, led by Joe Namath. He usually had a drink in one hand and a broad in the other. Somehow he found the time to throw for 3,147 yards, 15 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, though with only a 49.2% completion rate. The Jets offense racked up 419 points (in a 14 game schedule), good for 29.9 per game, ranking it second (out of 10 teams). Matt Snell (747 yards, six TD’s) and Emerson Boozer (441 yards, five TD’s) led the rushing attack, while receivers George Sauer (66 receptions), Don Maynard (57 receptions, 10 TD’s) and tight end Pete Lammons (32 receptions) were busy hauling in Namath’s passes. Center John Schmidt anchored the O line with Dave Herman and Winston Hill blocking their way to the Pro Bowl. The defense allowed 280 points (20 per game), which was fourth in the AFL. It had four Pro Bowlers (Gerry Philbin, John Elliott, Verlon Biggs, Al Atkinson), and cornerback Johnny Sample led the D-backs with seven INT’s. (Sack records weren’t kept back then.) Kicker Jim Turner was 34 for 46 in field goal attempts.

After defeating the Oakland Raiders, 27-23, in the AFL championship game, the Jets were set to play the 13-1 Colts. Baltimore didn’t miss a beat when Johnny Unitas went down with an injury and was replaced by Earl Morrell, who went on to win the NFL MVP. At the time it was often compared to the same seamless transition that took place on Bewitched, when they switched Darrins. In the week leading up to Super bowl III (this was the first one that was actually called the Super Bowl; the first two were only called that retroactively), Broadway Joe made his famous guarantee. He also announced the 1969-70 CBS prime-time lineup, predicted there would be an early spring and could foresee the day when we’d all travel in flying cars. As for the game, the unthinkable happened and the AFL Jets beat the Colts, 16-7. Namath was named MVP (17 for 28, 206 yards), Snell gained 121 yards and rushed for a TD, Turner booted three field goals and the D intercepted Morrell and Johnny U four times. Maybe those AFL players were good after all.

Flash forward to 2007. The Giants made the controversial decision to retain coach Tom Coughlin, Tiki Barber retired, Michael Strahan missed training camp and was mulling over his own retirement and Jeremy Shockey broke his leg during the season. But the team finished with a surprising 10-6 record, good for second place and a wild card. Billed as the Road Warriors, they went 7-1 away from home during the season (3-5 at home) and had to play all of their playoff games as the visiting team. The anti-Namath, Eli Manning, led the Giants offense. Humble, boring and as flashy as C-SPAN, Manning threw for 3,336 yards, 23 touchdown passes, 20 INT’s, with a 56.1% completion rate. The Giants offense was ranked 14th in the league, with 373 points (23.3 per game). Brandon Jacobs (1,009 yards), Derrick Ward (602 yards) and Reuben Droughns (six TD’s) pounded the ball on the ground (with help from Ahmad Bradshaw in the playoffs), while Plaxico Burress (70 catches, 12 TD’s), Amani Toomer (59 catches) and Shockey (57 catches before getting hurt) led the aerial attack. The D ranked 17th in the league, allowing 351 points (21.9 per game). But they were #1 in sacks, with 52, thanks to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s aggressive pass-rushing schemes. Osi Umenyiora led the way with 13 sacks, while Justin Tuck recorded 10 and Strahan nine. Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce was making tackles all over the field while blowing his airhorn at reporters in the locker room. And Gibril Wilson and Sam Madison picked off four passes each. The kicking game featured Lawrence Tynes (23 for 27 in field goal attempts, and booted the game-winner in OT of the NFC championship game) and ageless Jeff Feagles, who was the master of the directional punt.

Big Blue hit the road for the playoffs, where they were underdogs in every game. They whipped Tampa Bay 24-14, sent the Cowboys packing 21-17 and edged Green Bay in OT for the NFC championship, 23-20, in sub-zero-degree temperatures (Tynes accidentally kicked a penguin through the uprights in the pre-game warm-ups). Then they played one of the greatest Super Bowls in NFL history, defeating the Patriots and their axis of evil―Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Randy Moss―17-14. The blue-collar Giants kicked the Patriots’ asses all over the field. Tuck led a relentless pass rush that had pretty-boy Brady running for his life, and Manning, with Tyree’s help, drove the G-men down the field for a last-minute game-winning drive.

If the Jets and Giants faced each other, who would win? The flashy, AFL-style Jets or the all-business Giants? Cast your vote now.

 

There is currently one response to “Superteams Smackdown: 1968 Jets vs. 2007 Giants”

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  1. 1 On November 21st, 2008, Eric Freier said:

    I voted for the Jets even though they have to be, what, 60 -70 years old now. I just think their experience would win out. That and the Jets are Doug Heffernans(sp?) team. Thats good enough for me. Well gotta go watch “King of Queens” for the first time today.

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