|1986 New York Jets season|
|Head coach||Joe Walton|
|Home field||Giants Stadium|
|Division place||2nd AFC East|
|Playoff finish||Won Wild Card Playoffs (Chiefs) 35–15|
Lost Divisional Playoffs (Browns) 23–20
|Pro Bowlers||TE Mickey Shuler|
WR Al Toon
The 1986 New York Jets season was the 27th season for the team and the seventeenth in the National Football League. It began with the team trying to improve upon its 11–5 record from 1985 and return to the playoffs under head coach Joe Walton. The Jets finished the season with a record of 10–6, qualifying for the top Wild Card spot in the playoffs despite losing their last five games of the season. They defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round, but lost to the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round. The loss to the Browns is infamous in Jets history. Leading 20–10 in the 4th quarter, the Jets collapsed when Mark Gastineau hammered Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar seconds after he released a pass; Gastineau was flagged for roughing the passer and the Browns rallied to force overtime and win early in the game's second overtime.
The Week 3 game against Miami was memorable as Ken O'Brien and Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino fought a wild shootout that culminated in the Jets winning 51–45 in overtime. Marino threw for 448 yards and six TD passes while O'Brien accumulated 479 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception for what would statistically be the best game of his career.
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|1||September 7, 1986||at Buffalo Bills||W 28–24||Rich Stadium|
|2||September 11, 1986||New England Patriots||L 20–6||The Meadowlands|
|3||September 21, 1986||Miami Dolphins||W 51–45 (OT)||The Meadowlands|
|4||September 28, 1986||at Indianapolis Colts||W 26–7||Hoosier Dome|
|5||October 5, 1986||Buffalo Bills||W 14–13||The Meadowlands|
|6||October 12, 1986||at New England Patriots||W 31–24||Sullivan Stadium|
|7||October 20, 1986||Denver Broncos||W 22–10||The Meadowlands|
|8||October 26, 1986||New Orleans Saints||W 28–23||The Meadowlands|
|9||November 2, 1986||at Seattle Seahawks||W 38–7||Kingdome|
|10||November 9, 1986||at Atlanta Falcons||W 28–14||Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium|
|11||November 16, 1986||Indianapolis Colts||W 31–16||The Meadowlands|
|12||November 24, 1986||at Miami Dolphins||L 45–3||Miami Orange Bowl|
|13||November 30, 1986||Los Angeles Rams||L 17–3||The Meadowlands|
|14||December 7, 1986||at San Francisco 49ers||L 24–10||Candlestick Park|
|15||December 13, 1986||Pittsburgh Steelers||L 45–24||The Meadowlands|
|16||December 21, 1986||at Cincinnati Bengals||L 52–21||Riverfront Stadium|
Week 1 at Bills
- Date: September 7
- Game time: 4:00 p.m. EDT
- Game weather: 56 °F (13.3 °C) • Wind 12 miles per hour (19 km/h; 10 kn)
- Game attendance: 79,951
- Referee: Jerry Markbreit
- TV announcers (NBC): Marv Albert and Bob Griese
The Jets spoiled the debut of Bills quarterback Jim Kelly.
Week 2: vs. New England Patriots
The NFL scheduled the Jets to host the Patriots in a rare Thursday night game. The Jets were limited to two field goals as Tony Collins caught two touchdowns in a 20–6 Jets loss where the two teams combined for just 486 yards of offense.
Week 3: vs. Miami Dolphins
- Ken O'Brien 29/43, 479 Yds, 4 TD, INT
- Wesley Walker 6 Rec, 194 Yds, 4 TD
- Al Toon 7 Rec, 111 Yds
The Jets-Dolphins rivalry reached an apex in this Week 3 matchup as Ken O'Brien and Dan Marino unleashed ten combined touchdowns, the last a 43-yard score to Wesley Walker and a 51–45 overtime win for the Jets.
Week 4: at Indianapolis Colts
Week 5: vs. Buffalo Bills
Week 6: at New England Patriots
Johnny Hector and Steve Grogan had memorable performances as the Jets raced to a 24–0 halftime lead. Subbing for injured Tony Eason, Grogan stormed the Patriots back in the second half with three touchdowns and a career-high 401 passing yards. Hector, with a career-high 143 rushing yards, also scored three times, and in the final minute Grogan completed a deep pass to Irving Fryar, but Fryar fumbled to the Jets, ending a 31–24 Jets win.
Week 7: Monday Night Football at Denver Broncos
The two teams used four quarterbacks (John Elway, Gary Kubiak, Ken O'Brien, and Pat Ryan) and combined for ten quarterback sacks, 22 penalties (for 172 yards), and just 490 yards of offense as the Jets ran away with a 22-10 win.
Week 8: vs. New Orleans Saints
Despite being shut out 17–0 in the fourth quarter, the Jets beat the Saints 28–23. Al Toon caught three touchdowns against his son's future team and Freeman McNeil added a fourth score. The Jets grabbed three fumbles and picked off the Saints twice.
Week 9: at Seattle Seahawks
Week 10: at Atlanta Falcons
Week 11: vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Jets picked off Jack Trudeau four times and won 31–16, their ninth straight win putting them at a seemingly commanding 10–1.
Week 12: Monday Night Football at Miami Dolphins
Mounting injuries for the Jets had steadily weakened the club and the repercussions began in a 45–3 massacre by the Dolphins in Miami. Dan Marino tossed four touchdowns and Lorenzo Hampton blasted to 188 all-purpose yards and three scores. Ken O'Brien completed just 11 of 21 passes with an interception, and Pat Ryan took over under center but was picked off himself; the Jets also fumbled twice.
Week 13: vs. LA Rams
Three years after the infamous set-to between Jackie Slater and Mark Gastineau the Rams returned to The Meadowlands and won 17–3. Despite 350 yards of offense the Jets managed the one field goal while coughing up four turnovers and committing eight penalties to one Rams foul.
Week 14: at San Francisco 49ers
Four Niners backs (including ex-Buffalo Bill Joe Cribbs) rushed for 198 yards and three scores as the Niners won 24–10, knocking the Jets to 10–4.
Week 15: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
In a Saturday NFL doubleheader with the Broncos–Redskins game following, the Jets hosted the Steelers and were buried 45–24. Ken O'Brien and Pat Ryan combined for 262 yards and two touchdowns but were intercepted three times as five Steelers backs rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns.
Week 16: at Cincinnati Bengals
|WC||December 28, 1986||Kansas City Chiefs||W 35–15||The Meadowlands|
|Div||January 3, 1987||at Cleveland Browns||L 23–20 (2OT)||Cleveland Municipal Stadium|
AFC Wild Card Playoffs
- KC – Smith 1 run (kick failed)
- NYJ – McNeil 4 run (Leahy kick)
- NYJ – McNeil 1 pass from Ryan (Leahy kick)
- NYJ – Toon 11 pass from Ryan (Leahy kick)
- NYJ – McArthur 21 interception return (Leahy kick)
- KC – Lewis recovered blocked punt in end zone (Lowery kick)
- NYJ – Griggs 6 pass from Ryan (Leahy kick)
- KC – Safety, Jennings ran out of end zone
AFC Divisional Playoff
|New England Patriots(3)||11||5||0||.688||7–1||8–4||412||307||W1|
|New York Jets(4)||10||6||0||.625||6–2||8–4||364||386||L5|