Eric Caterina
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December 19 - My Trip to the Meadowlands

Sitting in the parking lot of Giants Stadium an hour before game time was an
interesting experience- we were passed by several Jets fans who had brown
paper bags covering their heads. I have to admit, it wasn't all that surprising;
this year, Jets fans don't feel so proud of being Jets fans. They simply don't
have any reason to be.

Following a disgruntled Jet fan dressed as Gumby (and yes, he had a bag
over his head too), we trudged through the turnstiles to experience the
barnburner that was the Jets vs. Saints. As we took our seats next to a
bag-head in a Chad Pennington jersey, the Jets powered onto the field in
front of a half-empty Giants Stadium- motivated by the halfhearted cheers
coming from the small crowd.

The highlight of the 1st quarter (and very possibly the highlight of the entire game) was a short rush
by Curtis Martin, which put him in the history books as only the fourth player in NFL history to rush for
14,000 yards. "14,000!" flashed on the video screen as the announcer informed Giants Stadium of
Martin's accomplishment. There  was a short break as his teammates congratulated him on the
milestone putting him in elite company with Emmit Smith, Barry Sanders, and Walter Payton.

With the score 3-0 (Jets in the lead) at the end of the first, the game was proving to be a defensive
battle. New Orleans erupted with a quick score on a 21 yard pass from Aaron Brooks to Donte
Stallworth, making the temporary smiles disappear from the faces of Jets fans. 10 minutes later, a
similar play offered the same result, with Brooks throwing to tight end Zach Hilton for a 15 yard
touchdown. This initiated the chant of the night- "Reg-gie Bush! Reg-gie Bush!"

Nearby, a fan raised a sign displaying "Jets-Saints: The Reggie Bush Bowl!" (If the Texans keep
throwing their games away like they have been recently, this may have been the Leinart Bowl. For
more on that, read Brian Wilmer's "Tanking In Texas".)

The Jets showed a breath of life after a 28 yard hookup from Brooks Bollinger to Laveranues Coles,
who appeared to have caught the ball in the corner of the endzone. Video replays at the stadium
showed a clear catch, but the Jets couldn't catch a break. The play was reviewed and later reversed
by referee Terry McAulay, who was hammered with boo birds and obscene chants of "***hole!
***hole!" Welcome to Jets territory, Terry. If I were you, I'd get outta there in a hurry.

With the Jets in the lead 19-14 early in the 4th, nobody was dumb enough to get their hopes up for a
possible win. Sure enough, Brooks threw yet another long touchdown pass midway through the
quarter to turn the tables and make it 21-19.

That would be the same score displayed on the scoreboard as the Jets field goal kicker (and 2nd
round draft pick) Mike Nugent took the field with 14 seconds remaining to attempt a game-winning 53
yarder. Good snap, good hold, and- in almost a mirror image of the Jets' entire season- the kick fell
helplessly short.

In their weekly routine, Jets fans headed for the exits frowning, but perhaps feeling that much closer
to Bush or Leinart.


Yeah, Just End The Season.