Today, we conclude our look back at the Plays of the Year with a "Wild & Wacky" installment. In previous weeks, we focused on offense, defense, and special teams. Read below, watch the video, and then vote for your favorite play!
Week One – Jets vs. Titans: Kerry Rhodes intercepts a deflected Kerry Collins pass and returns it 22 yards
The Jets played a perfect road half in Eric Mangini's first game as head coach, racing to a 13-0 lead over the Titans at intermission. In a bit of a surprise move, Tennessee started Kerry Collins at quarterback only 13 days after he signed a one-year contract with the club. But the Titans couldn't get anything going offensively in the opening 30 minutes as both Collins and Vince Young, the Heisman Trophy winner from Texas, were intercepted by cornerback Andre Dyson.
To start the second half, the strong-armed Collins threw a pretty strike to tight end Ben Troupe near midfield. But inexplicably Troupe could not handle the rock and deflected the ball right into the arms of safety Kerry Rhodes. The takeaway would lead to a successful Mike Nugent field goal as the Jets increased their lead to 16-0. It was a turnover that fell into the Jets' lap and they took advantage.
Week Two - Jets vs. Patriots: Jerricho Cotchery 71-yard TD pass from Chad Pennington
Midway through the third quarter and with the Jets facing a 24-0 deficit in their home opener, Jerricho Cotchery brought the home fans to their feet with perhaps the most amazing touchdown reception in franchise history.
On a 3rd and 13 inside his own territory, quarterback Chad Pennington dropped back and threw long down the right sideline in the direction of Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery, a third-year wideout from N.C. State, quickly made an adjustment to grab the ball at the Patriots' 30-yard line. Defensive back Chad Scott rocked Cotchery downward, but the talented target fell directly on top of Eugene Wilson. No referee blew a whistle, so Cotchery simply jumped up and raced to the end zone.
"Once I caught the ball I knew I landed on the defender. I knew my knee hadn't touched the ground, so I was just going to get up and run and have the official make the call," said Cotchery. "Up until that point we were just looking for a spark from someone. We needed a play to get the offense going and I think that play definitely helped."
The Patriots, who didn't believe what they had just seen, challenged the call on the field. But replays clearly indicated Cotchery's knee had never touched the ground. The Cotchery effort sparked a 17-point run, turning a potential rout into a nail-biter.
"A lot of times with offensive football, all it takes is one play or two to give your guys a spark and that's exactly what happened," Pennington said. "Jerricho makes a great catch, an unbelievable play, and that gave us the spark and we just caught fire after that."
Cotchery, who finished the regular season with career-highs in receptions (82), receiving yards (961) and touchdowns (6), said it was an outstanding moment.
"That has to be the best play I ever had in my life - football, basketball, anything," he said. "That play created a lot of energy on the sidelines and if gave us hope."
Week Four – Jets vs. Colts: Chad Pennington short pass to Leon Washington followed by five laterals and two fumbles as the Jets attempt a miracle
This was one of the craziest fourth quarters in Jets' history. You had to think the last team with the ball was going to win it, and the Green & White nearly pulled it off in dramatic fashion.
The Colts unlocked a 14-14 tie early in the final stanza on a 20-yard Martin Gramatica field goal. Then both teams exchanged touchdowns and the Colts led 24-21 with 2:34 remaining. Fourteen seconds later, Justin Miller put the Green & White on top with a franchise-record 103-yard kickoff return for a score. But Peyton Manning answered with a phenomenal drive, lifting his team to a 31-28 advantage on a quarterback sneak and just 50 seconds on the clock.
With one timeout, the Jets moved to their 32-yard line as the clocked ticked to eight seconds. Then Chad Pennington threw short to Leon Washington and lateral madness began. The play-by-play read something like this: Washington *lateral to Brad Smith to NYJ 37 for -3 yard, lateral to Laveranues Coles to IND 44 for 19 yards, lateral to Chad Pennington to IND 37 for 7 yards, lateral to Justin McCareins to IND 35 for 2 yards, FUMBLES, recovered by Brad Smith at IND 33, Brad Smith to IND 37 for -4 yards, FUMBLES, recovered by Laveranues Coles at IND 40, Laveranues Coles to IND 27 for 13 yards, lateral to Nick Mangold to IND 27 for no gain, FUMBLES, recovered by Colts.*
"We practice it every day. Every day it changes, but we practiced it a bunch of times and talked about it," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "It is one of those things that you never know when it will happen until it happens. We were close, but we need to practice it a little bit more."
"Once I crossed the 50-yard line with it and threw it back across to Justin, I was like 'something good is going to happen,' but we just kept fighting and trying to keep the ball alive," added Pennington. "Even Mangold got involved."
The Jets displayed their no-quit attitude on the game's final play, and there was a moment or two there where it appeared they would reach the end zone.
"It's like backyard football," Pennington said. "Forget all the game plan and all the different ideas, its all about just trying to toss it around long enough to try to score."