The neat piece of hook-and-lateral work for the Jets' only touchdown against Los Angeles last week not only speaks of Bilal Powell's continuing contributions to the offense but also hearkens back to the early days of Joe Namath's career in green and white.
When Bryce Petty completed a pass to Brandon Marshall, who flipped to Powell cruising behind him, who raced to the pylon for the 4-yard TD to complete the play the offense had been practicing since training camp, it was only the second known touchdown off a lateral in franchise history.
The first came on Nov. 7, 1965, at Kansas City. It was significant in Namath lore because while the then-rookie had played in six games and started three, he had yet to establish himself as a winning AFL quarterback. The only victory up till then in '65 was the week before at home by 45-10 vs. Denver, which Mike Taliaferro had started and Namath had mopped up.
Against the Chiefs, Taliaferro again started, but with the Jets trailing at the break, 10-6, head coach Weeb Ewbank turned to Namath for the second half. Joe's first response was a five-play, 75-yard drive, with the capper a pass to TE Dee Mackey, who lateraled to Maynard at the KC-15.
Maynard took it the rest of the way for the Jets' only touchdown that day, but it was enough to propel them to the 13-10 victory. Give Namath the "relief win" for lifting them from behind to ahead and holding the lead the rest of the way. The next week Joe Willie started and won, 30-20, at Boston and the Namath era had achieved liftoff.
Since then, the Jets of course have executed a number of laterals. Ten of then (four on rushing plays, six on passes) covered 20-plus yards. But none had been taken to the house until Powell's burst vs. the Rams.
Sure-Handed ReceiversIf you're scoring at home, Petty on the above play got one completion for a 4-yard TD, Marshall, one reception for zero yards (because he caught it behind the line and immediately lateraled), and Powell, no catch for 4 receiving yards and a receiving TD.
It was the first receiving contribution in a sure-handed game for Powell, who went on to catch all seven passes targeted for him for 52 yards. (And that didn't include his deft 14-yard run off a low backpass grab from Petty.)
We last talked about "perfect" receiving days two months ago when Quincy Enunwa caught 13 of 14 passes thrown to him in the first two games. But "Q" was a mere 7-for-8 in the opener vs. the Bengals.
The last time a Jet caught every pass targeted for him in a game with at least seven receptions: Powell, 7-for-7 last year at Dallas. The last Jets TE to do it: Dustin Keller, 7-for-7 at New England in 2012. The last Jets WR: Wayne Chrebet, 8-for-8 vs. Buffalo in '04. (Chrebet, also known as "Q" in his day, was also the last Jet before Powell at any position to do it at home.)
"The Drives"Our last note today also ties into the above score, which concluded a 99-yard drive. We noted at the time that it was only the Green & White's fourth 99-yard drive since 1963.
It's a quirk of Jets history that the previous two 99-yard marches came in back-to-back games in 1995, which was not otherwise an offensive watershed season. Glenn Foley in relief QB'd the long drive in Game 10 vs. the Patriots before the bye, then Boomer Esiason returned under center after the bye to move the "O" 99 yards on the last drive vs. the Bills. Both were losses.
In 1980, Richard Todd engineered one of the most impressive drives in franchise history: 17 plays, 99 yards, 9:22 off the clock to a TD on the opening drive of the Jets' 17-14 Game 8 win over the Dolphins.