The 1958 NFL Championship between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts is considered by most historians to be “the greatest game every played.” Or at least the most important, as it helped make football the American sport of the television age.
Certainly, it set the stage for the creation of Monday Night Football, which turned into a cultural institution in its own right. So it was fitting that this Monday night’s meeting between the Jets and Titans gave us the bookend to the ’58 NFL Championship.
Yes, this was the Worst Game Ever Played. But not in the unwatchable sense, like a game announced by Ron Pitts. This was the “Springtime For Hitler” of NFL games — so perversely entertaining that it had to be watched. People will be talking about it for years.
“Yeah, this game is bad, but it’s no 2012 Jets-Titans…”
Both teams managed to put together eye-gouging stats in different areas.
The Titans were 2 of 13 on third down and committed 14 penalties for 111 yards, a pair of stats that usually indicate you just got your ass beat. But the Jets are so fantastically inept that the Titans were actually the team that won.
Or at least Mark Sanchez is that inept. When Sanchez threw his third interception — the second time he’s done that in the last three games — you figured “Man, this is his best crappy performance yet!”
But The Sanchize was just getting warmed up.
With New York driving with a chance to score and keep its playoff hopes alive — perhaps the saddest fact in the history of man — Sanchez threw into triple coverage at the Tennessee 2-yard line and was picked off for the fourth time. Game over.
But wait! There’s more.
The Jets defense stuffed Tennessee on three straight run plays, forcing the Titans to punt with under a minute left. And Titans punter Brett Kern shanked it 19 yards, giving the Jets the ball at the 25 with a chance to win AND still somehow stay in the playoff race.
At least until a bad snap by Nick Mangold bounced off Sanchez’s foot, then running back Shonn Greene, and then into the hands of the Titans. If that’s not the polar opposite of Alan Ameche’s overtime plunge into the end zone, I don’t know what is.
At this point we could have reasonably expected the Titans to turn it over on the kneel-down, but somehow Jake Locker was able to run the clock out without a hitch. The less worse team had won, and galloped off the field (presumably without tripping) after giving us a game for the ages.