The Jets were led by Chad Pennington in that season, his first as a starter. Pennington helped resurrect a Jets team that started 2-5 that year to an 8-7 record. They had to square off against the Green Bay Packers and some quarterback named Brett Favre in that season finale -- a scenerio that did not look too favorable for Gang Green.
Giants Stadium was packed that cold evening; on the jumbotron, minutes before the Jets/Packers kick off, a live feed appeared of the Pats/Dolphins game. Adam Vinatieri kicked the game winning field goal for New England, killing Miami's postseason dreams and giving the Jets hope. Giants Stadium roared with pleasure as the score was announced. The Jet players fed off that energy and beat up Favre and Packers, 42-17. Pennington became the new hero of New York, leading the Jets to the postseason. A week later, he helped the Jets thump Peyton Manning and the Colts 41-0 in front of an equally rabid Jets nation.
Now the roles have been reversed. The Jets are, once again, in need of a victory and a Patriots loss or a Ravens loss in order to qualify for the playoffs. Once again the final game will be Brett Favre vs. Chad Pennington; only this time, Favre will lead the Jets, while Pennington will lead the hated Miami Dolphins.
Talk about irony. Pennington will not only look to clinch Miami's first division title since 2000, he will look to stab the Jets in the heart for letting him go this summer in favor of Favre.
It has been well documented since the trade was made to get Favre on August 6, about this new rivarly. Favre got the better of Pennington on opening day, as New York won 20-14. In fact, it looked as if Favre and the Jets got the better of the deal a week before Thanksgiving after they destroyed the once unbeaten Tennessee Titans 34-13 to improve to 8-3.
However, Favre has aged before our eyes; coach Eric Mangini looks more and more like a dead man walking with each passing week, and the Jets are one loss away from being eliminated from the playoffs at 9-7.
As for Pennington, he is having a career year with over 3,400 yards passing, 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. You could make the argument that he is the leauge MVP this year.
This game will tell America a lot about the Jets now, in the future and, maybe, forever. A loss and the franchise will be set back for years to come. Miss the playoffs and that uncertain future awaits as well. And to think that the quarterback that they wanted out will be laughing his way into the postseason.