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Long Drives Powered Jets Past Browns

Posted Dec 23, 2013

On the face of it, Sunday's 24-13 victory over the Browns may have felt to some like just another Win 7 in a Game 15 in a long season without playoffs.

But think about it. What was most unusual and exceptional about this Jets victory?

"I think I’m more pleased with the fact that we had some really good, long drives," QB Geno Smith said on a conference call today with Jets reporters. "We had 13-, 14- play drives and it just means that we were executing the game plan, just staying on target and in that zone and staying with our reads. Obviously, we converted those third downs that were crucial in the game. It allowed our defense to rest up after playing pretty much the entire first quarter and then also got us into a rhythm and led to some points."

"That's how you win football games," WR David Nelson said, "by taking care of the football, putting quality drives together, and managing the game."

Geno and David are right. A huge secret of this game, as they suggested, was in the drives — 80 yards to our first touchdown, 79 to the Nick Folk field goal to close the half, then 81 and 80 yards for the back-to-back TDs that sealed the deal in the fourth quarter.

This was our first game in 40 years and only our second game since the 1970 season that we had four scoring drives of 79-plus yards in length. And that's pretty remarkable.

The only other such game is well-known by Green & White historians. It was the legendary Joe Namath-Johnny Unitas shootout at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, won by Namath and the Jets, 44-34, in 1972.

Namath, in the process of firing six touchdown passes that day, engineered possessions that traveled 86, 79, 71, 79 and  80 yards. The four longest drives set the standard that in the succeeding four decades was equaled only on Sunday.

But let's widen the parameters some. How many Jets games featured four scoring drives of at least 75 yards in length?

Three more games join the list, and the most notable of them is another milestone in our history — the 51-45 overtime win over the Dolphins at Shea Stadium in 1986. That was the day Ken O'Brien found Wesley Walker with four touchdown strikes, which remains the franchise record for most TD catches in a game.

But besides the passes were the touchdown drives — 83 yards in the first half, fourth-quarter 80-yarders to forge the tie, then the 78-yard drive crowned by Walker's game-winning 43-yard reception. (Not to mention a 73-yard TD march also in this game.)

Sunday's game may or may not mark Smith's ascent into a smoothly professional, non-rookie quarterback. It may or may not support head coach Rex Ryan's contention after the game that "I told you that this team is on the climb, it’s on the rise. It was pretty clear, at least to me, that’s what we saw today."

But the long Sunday drives taken against the Cleveland Browns could be where these assertions picked up speed.

Here are our five games since 1970 in which we had four scoring drives of 75 yards:

Date Opponent Drive Lengths Scores Final 
Sept. 24, 1972 @ Baltimore 86, 79, 79, 80 4 TDs Jets 44-34
Sept. 21, 1986 vs MIAMI 83, 80, 80, 78 4 TDs Jets 51-45 OT
Nov. 14, 1993 @ Indianapolis 80, 75, 83, 98 3 TDs, FG Jets 31-17
Nov. 23, 2008 @ Tennessee 76, 78, 80, 75 3 TDs, FG Jets 34-13
Dec. 22, 2013 vs CLEVELAND 80, 79, 81, 80 3 TDs, FG Jets 24-13

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