The last time the Chargers played the Jets in the playoffs it was a bitter affair. The Chargers had just completed a miraculous season. Just months earlier we were the laughing-stock of the NFL. No less than Elisa Manning had said that he refused to play for the Chargers. His father told him “no” and the thought was that the Chargers had no future, ever, and he simply would not play for them. At the time the Chargers had not gone to the playoffs in about 10 years. All of the sudden we were 12 and 4, winning our division on the back of LT and a dominant Drew Brees. That was the first time since Fouts that when I saw our QB throw a deep ball I would get excited rather than fearful.
The day of the game it was exciting. I remember walking around the stadium and watching the players drive in and all the fans were creating such enthusiasm. It was like we had won the lottery. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves. At the time we were the team that had been out of the playoffs the longest. We had the number one overall pick the year before and now we were hosting a playoff game.
We never deserved to win that game. We didn’t play well and my memory is of seeing us down by a touchdown in the final seconds of the game. 4th down in front of the goal, Chargers ball. Pass incomplete, season over. Wait. Roughing the QB, new set of downs, TD to Gates and we’re in OT. Nate Kaeding almost won it for us when he pulled the game winner to the right. Jets’ next possession sees them drive down-field kick a field-goal, game over.
As everyone is leaving in a shocked haze we see the doors to the stadium are locked shut and no one can leave. People are furious a cursing quite elegantly. I looked around and saw zero jets fans, hats, jackets, nothing. I don’t know where they went but that could have been dangerous until the gates opened about 10 minutes later.
That’s when Kaeding got the can’t make a playoff FG bs and the “you’ve got to be Kaeding me.” That game killed me for days so I have a special need for a victory on Sunday. But like Corey Feldman in the Goonies, I’m taking that last game back. I’m taking it all back. It was my wish and it didn't come true that year.
These are the memories that come flooding back under the light of a New Jersey Jets v San Diego Chargers playoff game. I now live in Brooklyn and am trying desperately to find any Jets fans, anywhere. They simply cannot be found. (I try to engage people in jets/chargers talk and all anyone can say is “I like the Giants”.) I suppose there are fans somewhere I can take the game back from.