Jets – Raiders’ Matchup Has No Past Links

In all likelihood, none of the current Jets and Raiders players –likely some coaches do – remember the famous “Heidi” game of the matchup between the two teams in 1968.

The Jets held a 32-29 lead with just over a minute to play when NBC executives decided to cut to the move “Heidi” that was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Oakland scored two touchdowns in nine-second span and won the game, 43-32.

However, the Jets got revenge in the AFL championship game and defeated Oakland, advancing to the Super Bowl. In both contests, there were 10 future Hall of Famers.

In Sunday’s matchup, don’t look for a tight-knit contest or likely as many Hall of Famers.

The Jets will enter the Oakland Coliseum as a 14-point underdog to the Silver and Black, perhaps one of the longest or the longest point-spread deficit this season. They do have two upcoming games with New England and one with Denver.

Individually, the Jets’ timing isn’t the best as the usually raucous Raider Nation will have some extra points to celebrate. Quarterback Derek Carr is playing his first home game since he broke his leg last December, and running back Marshawn Lynch is making his return to his hometown.

Carr completed 22 of 32 for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Lynch ran for 76 yards in the team’s 26-16 victory at Tennessee last week. Defensive end  and one-man wrecking crew Khalil Mack is expected to be back at full strength after being slowed last week.

The Jets’ defense gave up 190 yards on the ground and 405 yards overall to Buffalo last week, prompting head coach Todd Bowles to call out his defensive line that was nearly non-existent. This week, back-up linebacks Bruce Carter and Edmond Robinson will not play due to injuries  and they are among six ruled out.

“I had a talk with them and a talk with everybody,” said Bowles earlier this week. “We had a bad game as a group. They out their noses down and grinded even harder. We’ll see how they respond.”

Lead by Mack, the Raiders could have eight men in the box, making it challenging for the Jets to generate more than the 38 rushing yards they had against Buffalo last week. Bilal Powell, who should see more action this week, had a team-high 22 yards, but he also caught five passes.

Getting their ground game going has been a priority this week.

“We need to have more movement,” added Bowles. “If they have eight men in the box, we’ll have to make our adjustments. Mack is a great player and he will move around.”

The Raiders’ pass rush also could make it a daunting day for quarterback Josh McCown, who dinked-and-dunked his way to a 26-for-39, 187 yard-day. Bowles indicated that recently acquired Jeremy Kerley, still getting accustomed to the offense, may not play. Jermaine Kearse, who caught seven balls in his debut last week, should develop into a further factor in the offense.

Look for ex-Giant Will Tye to be more involved at tight end and also fullback, the latter position where he may be able to open some more holes. Tight ends Eric Tomlinson and Jordan Leggett are both injured.

“It has been so far, so good,” said Bowles about Tye’s adaptation. “It is a lot to pick up, but he has been doing a good job.”

Bowles also indicated the team’s “young receivers”  — Robbie Anderson, ArDarius Stewart, and Chad Hanson — have been progressing and should be more involved in the offense.

Hopefully, the Jets won’t have to turn to the new version of “Heidi” Sunday afternoon.


About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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