It has been a long 45 years since the Jets last appeared in a Super Bowl.
Neil Armstrong was still six months away from walking on the moon when the Jets shocked the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, and not a single act had signed on yet for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair scheduled for later that summer -- which would simply become known as Woodstock.
The Jets weren’t even a member of the National Football League in 1969, as the game back then still pitted the NFL’s best against the champion of the thought-to-be inferior American Football League.
Twitter was decades away from being invented, otherwise Joe Namath would’ve been trending worldwide after coming through on his famous guarantee of a victory for the Jets – who entered the game as an 18-point underdog to the Colts.
Namath had an efficient day against Baltimore, completing 17 of his 28 passes for 206 yards, facing a defense that Colts head coach and Hall of Famer Don Shula claimed was the best he ever saw.
And while Namath is considered the face of the franchise and often gets the bulk of the credit for the victory, the Jets defense, the best in the AFL that season, shut down Baltimore’s quarterback duo of NFL MVP Earl Morrall and all-time great Johnny Unitas.
Since joining the NFL in 1970, the Jets have reached the AFC Championship Game on four different occasions but have failed to make another appearance in the Super Bowl.
Regardless of which league the Jets have played in, the common theme in all their successful seasons has been a strong defense.
The quarterback sack didn’t become an official statistic until the strike-shortened 1982 season, and it was the Jets’ legendary New York Sack Exchange defense that played a large role in the stat being recognized by the league.
That same season, led by the fearsome front four of Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons, and Abdul Salaam, the Jets rode their defense all the way to the conference championship game.
Returning to Miami, the scene of Super Bowl III, with a trip to Super Bowl XVII on the line, the Jets were shut out by Shula and the team he took over in 1970, the Dolphins.
Sixteen years later, under the guidance of Bill Parcells and defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, the Jets fell short once again in the 1998 AFC Championship Game, as John Elway and the Denver Broncos defeated them en route to their second-straight Super Bowl title.
Current head coach Rex Ryan holds the distinction of being the only man to lead the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances, although he too was unable to get his team over the hump in either attempt.
Ryan’s losses in the 2009 and 2010 championship games have since been followed by three seasons without even returning to the playoffs, however, he appears to at least have the defense heading in the right direction once again.
No team has ever played a Super Bowl in their home stadium, and with this year’s game taking place at MetLife Stadium, it would’ve been the perfect year for the Jets to make their triumphant return to the big game.
And while that might not have happened, with Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Damon Harrison growing together and forming a present-day Sack Exchange of their own, it could be just a matter of time before the Jets play in the Super Bowl once again.