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NFL Classic Rewind: Jets’ Furious Rally is Stopped by Last-Second Interception 60

Posted on November 03, 2011 by A.J. Foss

The decade of the 1970s were not kind to the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets as the two teams combined for just one playoff appearance between them.

When the 1980s came around, things began to look up for Buffalo as they went 11-5 and won the AFC East division title during the 1980 season.

Though they lost to the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, the Buffalo Bills headed into the 1981 season with renewed confidence under head coach Chuck Knox.

Led by veteran quarterback Joe Ferguson and 1,000 yard rusher Joe Cribbs, the Bills returned to the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

While the Bills were turning the page on a lost decade, the Jets seemed to continue their woes from the 70s as they entered the 1980s.

The Jets went 4-12 in the 1980 season, which included a loss to the 1-15 Saints, and started the 1981 season by dropping their first three games.

New York fans and media members were calling for head coach Walt Michaels, who had been the head coach since 1977, to be replaced.

But under Michaels’ leadership, the Jets won 10 of their last 13 games to finish with a 10-5-1 record and clinch the team’s first playoff berth since 1969.

The Jets’ turnaround was keyed by the defensive line of Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons, and Abdul Salaam, which unofficially accounted for 66 sacks during the 1981 season and came to be known as the “New York Sack Exchange”.

On a cold, rainy afternoon, New York fans traveled to Shea Stadium to see their beloved Jets host their first playoff game in 12 years as the Jets faced off with the Buffalo Bills in the 1981 AFC Wild Card Game.

The Jets won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff, with Bruce Harper taking the kick and returning it to the New York 25, where he was met by Bills linebacker Ervin Palmer

Palmer stripped the ball from Harper and was caught on a bounce by Palmer’s teammate, Charles Romes who ran in untouched for a 26-yard touchdown in the second quickest score in NFL playoff history to give Buffalo a 7-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game.

The Jets seemed to shake off the shocking fumble on the opening kick on their second offensive series as they drove from their own 30-yard-line to the Buffalo 30, where they had a 1st-and-10.

That is when quarterback Richard Todd dropped back and fired a pass for Wesley Walker, who was wide open at the goal line, only to have Walker drop the pass and sure touchdown. Read the rest of this entry →

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