MNF Past, Present and Future: Week 3
By George Hill and Malibu Kelly Hayes
Special to ABC Sports Online

Monday Night Football's spotting and statistical gurus, George Hill and Malibu Kelly Hayes, view the game from a unique perspective. The duo will share their insight each week on Monday Night Online, giving an in-depth preview of the upcoming MNF game by looking at the matchup from the past, present, and the future. Here is the first installment, leading up to this Monday's game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets (ABC, 9 p.m. ET).

The Past: A look at some past performances on MNF by this week's teams.

The Present: The next layer looks at some of this Monday's key performers.

The Future: Chat with George and Kelly this Monday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Click here to send in a question.


Monday Nights Past
Joe Namath
Joe Namath was winless in four appearances on MNF.
This week's game in the Meadowlands marks the first time the 49ers and the Jets have squared off in a Monday Night contest. But, both teams have been in a number of memorable Monday Night games and have provided many of the program's greatest moments.

The Jets, of course, are coming off a season when they had not one, but two incredible fourth quarter Monday comebacks. A year ago, they beat the Dolphins in what has come to be known the "Midnight Miracle" when they erased a 23-point deficit before winning in overtime, way after the midnight hour.

Earlier in the year, on Sept. 12, Wayne Chrebet caught two touchdown passes from Vinny Testaverde to give the Jets a one-point win over the New England Patriots.

The Jets history on Monday Night Football goes back to the first-ever Monday Night game played in Cleveland in 1970. With Joe Namath at the helm, the Jets lost that contest 31-21. It was the first of seven straight road defeats that the Jets would suffer. In fact, one of the records that Broadway Joe would like to forget is his 0-4 mark on MNF.

All of the first seven Jet losses came on the road. In their first Monday Night home game at Shea Stadium, the Jets, behind quarterback Richard Todd defeated the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 15, 1979 by a score of 14-7. The game was forgettable as both teams were in the midst of nondescript seasons.

But more importantly, the behavior of the Shea stadium crowd set a standard that would plague them for years. That night, 30 people were injured and a pair of fans arrested as violence hit Shea Stadium.

Currently, New York rides a four game Monday Night win streak with two of those wins coming over the Patriots and the other two against the Dolphins. Overall, the Jets have a 14-17 record on MNF.

The 49ers, on the other hand, have been the darlings of the Monday Night cameras. Fifty-four times they have appeared on the series and have won 34 of those games.

However, this marks the first game they have played on Monday Night since the finale of the 1999 season when they lost to the Atlanta Falcons.

John Taylor
John Taylor burned the Rams for 286 yards in 1989, the second-highest single-game total in MNF history.
San Francisco has provided the primetime audience with so many memories -- many of them by Jerry Rice who, before departing for the Raiders set many Monday Night records.

But another 49er receiver turned in one of the greatest Monday Night receiving performances. In 1989 the 49ers played the Rams in a December contest in Anaheim. John Taylor -- then the 49ers "second" receiver -- caught two touchdown passes from Joe Montana. Nothing too unusual about that for the 49ers. What made them special however is that the TDs were both more than 90 yards -- 92 and 95 yards, to be exact. The TDs led to a 30-27 win in a game where Taylor finished with 286 receiving yards and Montana set a still-standing Monday night record with 458 passing yards.

Taylor also finds his name atop the MNF ledger for the longest punt return in Monday Night Football history. The year before, his 95-yard punt return against the Washington Redskins broke the 94-yard mark set by Chicago's Dennis McKinnon in the 1987 season premiere.


Monday Night Present
Here's a look at some of the players we're focusing on:

Eric Johnson
Johnson
49ers TE ERIC JOHNSON
The 49ers may have found a late-round gem in the Bulldog from Yale. He will fill in for the injured Greg Clark at tight end this Monday, and may keep the job throughout the year.

As Montana had Russ Francis and Steve Young had Brent Jones, Jeff Garcia may have found his tight end in the 6-3, 256 pound Johnson. The keys to this seventh- round pick are his size, intelligence and supple hands. That's a tough combination to beat. Johnson, an ex-All Ivy wide receiver, has caught seven passes in two games and he is just getting comfortable.

This week watch him against the Jets strong safety Victor Green as he works the middle of the field. If a fantasy player has the opportunity for an in season pick-up, this may well be your guy.

Wayne Chrebet
Chrebet
JETS WR WAYNE CHREBET
Things have started slowly for both Wayne Chrebet and the Jets passing game. With the newly installed West Coast offense, the Jets have thrown for only 312 yards in the first two games, and the team's wide receivers have a combined total of 11 receptions. Chrebet has six of the wide receivers' 11 catches for 73 yards, and has not scored in the first two games. This is hardly an impressive start for a team that hoped to showcase an explosive offense this season.

Vinny Testaverde has been unable to find his wide receivers with any consistency, choosing instead to dump the ball off to running backs Curtis Martin and Richie Anderson, who are the team's two leading receivers.

Chrebet, one of the games best possession receivers, and fearless going over Middle, should start to see more opportunities as Testaverde becomes more comfortable in offensive coordinator Paul Hackett's system.

If Monday Night history is an indicator, then the 49ers could see a season breakout game from both of them. Testaverde has passed for 659 yards and eight touchdowns in his last two Monday Night games, while Chrebet has grabbed five touchdowns in his last three Monday Night appearances -- four of them in the fourth quarter.

Curtis Martin
Martin
JETS RB CURTIS MARTIN
Since he arrived in New York from New England 1998, even including when he was a teammate of Keyshawn Johnson, Curtis Martin is the key to the success of the Jets offense. The Jets want the ball in his hands, despite opponents trying to dictate otherwise.

He currently leads the team in both rushing and receiving, and last week against the Patriots he rushed 24 times for 106 yards, marking the 32nd time in his career he has topped the century mark in a game.

Playing in run-oriented offenses his first six years in the league, this season is Martin's first playing in a West Coast offense, and nothing has seemed to change. After two weeks, he is fourth in the League in rushing (185 yards) and his nine receptions also rank fourth among the league's running backs. Martin's number has been called in 44 of the Jets' 52 running plays this year. So the 49ers defense, which works against the West Coast offense everyday in practice, not only knows that he is going to get the ball, they probably know how and where he is going to get it.

Even with that knowledge, the key for them is keep him out of the end zone. That is something both the Colts and Patriots failed to do.


Monday Night Future
New York takes the stage. Expect some pregame emotion, but once the opening kickoff takes flight this contest will be all about football.

The 49ers are a team looking to prove themslves. Last week's narrow loss to the Rams showed that they are a comer and a MNF win would do a lot to show America that the 49ers are indeed playoff contenders. Look for Jeff Garcia to spray the ball around the Meadowlands and put points on the board.

For the Jets, they are still feeling their way with a new coaching staff. A great Indianapolis team leveled the Jets in Week 1,but they still scored some points. Last week they made their mark by hitting ferociously and squeaking out a low scoring win over New England.

On Monday the offense should open up a little bit. Vinny Testaverde knows that the young corners for the 49ers are vulnerable and should look deep for Laveranues Coles, across the middle for Chrebet, and when in doubt, dump it off to Anderson and Martin.

When the midnight bell rings, the game will still be going on, with the 49ers ahead by a touchdown and the Jets driving.

The Niners' defense, however, will thwart the Jets' comeback and preserve a 38-31 victory.

MNF Past, Present and Future with George Hill and Malibu Kelly Hayes appears each Friday on ABC's Monday Night Football site.

 
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