AFC East: John Elliott

Best Jets Team Ever: 1968

June, 30, 2010
6/30/10
2:00
PM ET
Notable players: QB Joe Namath, RB Emerson Boozer, RB Matt Snell, WR Don Maynard, WR George Sauer, G Dave Herman, T Winston Hill, DT John Elliott, DE Gerry Philbin, DE Verlon Biggs, MLB Al Atkinson, CB Johnny Sample, K Jim Turner.

[+] EnlargeNamath
Darryl Norenberg/US PresswireJoe Namath and the Jets stunned the football world by winning Super Bowl III.
Analysis: To sum up the glory of the season and the agony of being a New York Jets fan over the past 40 years, there's only one candidate for the best team in franchise history.

The 1968 Jets are iconic. They transformed the NFL with their landmark 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, a result seared more deeply into legend with Joe Namath's renowned guarantee.

Those Jets remain the ultimate "any given Sunday" underdogs. They legitimized the upstart American Football League by knocking off the heavily favored Colts, an NFL institution. You can close your eyes and see the NFL Films clip of Namath wagging his index finger while he trotted toward the Orange Bowl tunnel.

But the Jets were no Buster Douglas fluke. While Namath was the leading man of an offense that averaged 29.9 points a game, the Jets owned the AFL's top-rated defense in yards allowed.

The Colts averaged 28.7 points a game. The fewest points they had scored in a game was 16, but the Jets' defense chased league MVP Earl Morrall from the game and made it easy for running back Matt Snell to hammer out the win.

Most impressive win: Aside from the Super Bowl, the Jets' biggest victory was avenging their Heidi Game loss to the Oakland Raiders. A month and a half later in the AFL title game, the Jets' defense yielded 433 total yards. Still, New York won 27-23.

Broadway No: The Jets' 1968 season is synonymous with Namath's swagger, but he wasn't always the driving force. Desperate to corral his recklessness, the Jets turned into a running team to the point Namath went 27 quarters without throwing a touchdown pass. Namath threw two more interceptions than he did touchdowns and finished with a 72.1 passer rating, 11th in the NFL.

Honorable mention

1969: The Jets followed up their championship campaign with a 10-4 record but scored only six points in their first playoff game and lost. They wouldn't have another winning season for a dozen years.

1998: Two seasons earlier, the Jets went 1-15. Head coach Bill Parcells navigated them to the AFC Championship Game behind the fifth highest-scoring offense and the second-stingiest defense.

1981: After a 1-3-1 start, the New York Sack Exchange backstopped the Jets to their first playoff berth in 12 seasons. They closed out the regular season with a 7-1 rally.

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