After eleven games of the 1986 NFL season, the New York Jets were cruising at high altitude with a 10-1 record (best in the league), having won nine games in a row. For the first time in their history, the Gang Green looked invincible and on a collision course with the New York Giants in a dream Super Bowl matchup.
Game number twelve for the Jets was a Monday Night contest at the Orange Bowl, where the Jets would have an opportunity to prove their dominance against their formidable rival, the Miami Dolphins. After a 45-3 drubbing administered by the Dan Marino led Fins, the only thing the Jets would prove on that warm and humid November South Florida night is the higher you climb, the harder you fall.
The Monday Night crash and burn set the Jets off into a tailspin which would see them lose their last five consecutive games of the season by a margin of 183-61. Amazingly enough, the Jets would still make the playoffs as a wild card, becoming the only team in the NFL history to do so after losing their final five games of the season.
The Jets would temporarily recover with a home playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, but their convalescence would be short lived. The following week the Jets would be knocked out of the playoffs and put out of their misery by Bernie Kosar and the Cleveland Browns in a double overtime classic at a frozen Municipal Stadium. The Browns were thrown a huge lifeline in the game by Mark Gastineau, whose idiotic roughing the passer penalty turned the tide late in the fourth quarter.
Just like the Jets twenty-six years earlier, the Houston Texans came into Gillette Stadium for their Monday Night battle against the New England Patriots riding high on a league best 11-1 record. And just like the Jets, the Texans were beaten to a pulp by the Pats 42-14, with QB Tom Brady throwing four touchdown passes (Marino also threw four TDs versus Jets).
Will this decisive loss send the Texans reeling, like the Jets were sent reeling in 1986? Will the Texans follow in the Jets unenviable footsteps and descend into their own late season hell? Due to a quirk in the schedule, this may be possible for the Texans, although not probable.
Two of the final three games for Houston (11-2) are against their division rivals, the Indianapolis Colts (9-4), who are currently in second place in the AFC South Division. Their other remaining game is at home against the Minnesota Vikings (7-6), who are led by Adrian Peterson (1600 yard rushing, 6.0 avg), who is having a phenomenal season. By no means is the division a lock for the Texans, whose confidence took a hit last night.
In any event, we now have a little more drama to follow in an NFL season which has been outrageously subpar, with many games being as painful to watch as the Jets last five of 1986.