It’s a no-brainer to name the best team in New York Jets history.
Not only did the 1968 Jets season end in the franchise’s only Super Bowl title in one of the greatest upsets — and guarantees — in sports history, but this team was indisputably superb all season.
Led by head coach Weeb Ewbank and quarterback “Broadway” Joe Namath, the Jets improved upon their eight-win 1967 campaign, rolling to an 11-3 record and AFL East crown in the franchise’s ninth season in existence.
Eleven Jets players were named to the AFL’s All Pro team, including both starting wide receivers Don Maynard (1,297 yards, 10 touchdowns) and George Sauer (1,141 yards). In terms of scoring, they had the second-ranked offense and fourth-best defense, and led the league in opposing yards allowed. The Jets defense also generated 43 turnovers, averaging two interceptions per game.
Notably, one of the Jets’ three losses came in the infamous “Heidi Game.” On Nov. 17, the defending champion Oakland Raiders improbably scored two touchdowns in nine seconds to beat New York in the final minute, but viewers missed the shocking ending as NBC switched to a showing of the movie Heidi.
The other two Jets losses came in a 35-37 nail-biter at Buffalo, and a 21-13 home loss to the Denver Broncos.
On their way to the Super Bowl, the Jets took on the Raiders again, who came in as winners of nine straight games. Namath tossed 266 yards and three touchdowns in the impressive 27-23 victory, while Maynard racked up 118 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score in the fourth quarter.
In Super Bowl II, the Jets, as 18-point underdogs, rode Namath’s confidence and talent to a 16-7 defeat of Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts. Namath took home Super Bowl MVP honors despite not scoring a touchdown, but Matt Snell was the star of the game, rushing for 121 yards on 30 carries.
Still, Namath shined brightest all season, and capped off the iconic season with one of football’s most indelible images, running off the Orange Bowl field with his finger proudly raised.
Five decades later, the Jets franchise has not had a more glorious moment nor season. The 1968 Jets were certainly the franchise’s best.