Moeller: Jets-Giants Yale Bowl Classic Has Ties with Present Status of Both Teams

Jets’ fans can look at this week and hope that history can repeat itself. Giants’ fans may have a different view.

I’m referring to a legendary contest between the Jets and Giants that occurred nearly 45 years to their meeting this Sunday at Met Life.

Ironically, there are plenty of similarities between the state of the teams then and now.

Yes, history does repeat itself.

If you’re a longtime Jets fan – that is, over 50 – you have plenty of poignant memories, likely most of them involving Joe Namath.

There is the iconic one of him holding up his index finger in the No. 1 position as he trotted off the field after winning the Super Bowl.

Yet, for me, there always will be the one of him practically gimping around the end on a bootleg into the end zone after an excellent dive fake to running back Emerson Boozer against the Giants in a game at the fabled Yale Bowl on Nov. 10, 1969.

As he was inches away from the goal line, Namath raised his hand at oncoming safety Eldridge Small and fellow safety Spider Lockhart motioning not hit him, as the duo could have sandwiched him on his fragile knees.

Namath, who completed 20 of 34 passes for 236 yards, later sealed the game in overtime with a six-yard pass to Boozer in overtime that gave the Jets a 26-20 win in the league’s first extra-period game.

It was one of the more entertaining regular-season matchups between the two clubs in the series the Giants lead, 8-5, all-time.

The Giants were led by recently acquired former Cowboy Craig Morton, who had a steady 21 for 37, 237-yard, two-touchdown afternoon.

The afternoon belonged to Namath and Morton, as neither team could get a running game going.

Remember Robert Burns? A one-year wonder in 1974, Burns led the Jets with 101 yards, while Joe

Dawkins had 49 and Doug Kotar had 35 for the Giants.

It proved to be a significant game in the league annals, as well as for the Jets.

The Jets, who were 1-7 coming into the game –sound familiar? — began an impressive six-game winning streak down the stretch to finish the year with a 7-7 mark.

The Giants, 2—6 at the time – hmmm.. – dropped their final six games to finish with an abysmal 2-12 record.

Jets’ rookie head coach Charley Winner was gone the following year after a 2-7 start, and the Giants’ Bill Arnsparger – Don Shula’s defensive architect – also was give the pink slip seven games into a winless 1976 season after an overall 7-28 record in two-and-a-half seasons.

Over the next three seasons, the Jets spiraled and floundered at 9-33. The Giants began a trek toward respectability with a 13-29 mark over the same period.

Let’s hope Sunday’s game will be as the Yale Bowl Classic 45 years ago.

The Jets don’t seem likely to repeat the six game streak on ’74, but they have the potential to pick up a few wins down the winter trail.

The Giants also can gain some momentum with a win here and also have some winnable games left on the docket.

One factor looks to be certain, though.

In some situations, history will repeat itself for both clubs.

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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