EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Broadway Joe will be in the building. So will the rest of the 1968 New York Jets, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the squad that won the franchise’s only Super Bowl.
Nostalgia will be all around MetLife Stadium on Sunday, with rookie Sam Darnold and this year’s Jets team trying to set a much more modest goal against the Indianapolis Colts — not coincidentally, the franchise New York beat for that 1969 title while it was in Baltimore.
Coming off an impressive 34-16 victory over Denver last Sunday and with the likes of Joe Namath and Don Maynard watching, New York will look to win consecutive games for the first time since taking three straight in Weeks 3-5 last season — over a year ago.
“We’ve got a good team,” Darnold said. “It’s just about putting together the pieces. Obviously, we put some together this past Sunday. We’ve just got to build off of it and, for me personally, I’ve just got to stay consistent.”
The Jets (2-3) have struggled with that . They opened the season with a 48-17 romp at Denver and then had clunkers against Miami, Cleveland and Jacksonville before getting back in the win column last weekend.
“We have to grow up and find a way to string games together and get on winning streaks,” left tackle Kelvin Beachum said, “instead of losing streaks.”
That’s what Andrew Luck and the struggling Colts (1-4) will be looking to stop when they take the field.
Indianapolis has lost three in a row, is missing some key players such as wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Jack Doyle to injuries, and could see its season really spiral with another defeat. The Colts, however, aren’t thinking about that right now.
“I love that this team has no quit,” tight end Eric Ebron said. “I love the story that we’ll have and I say that because we’re very young, we’re all beat up, and what people don’t tend to realize is that you don’t stay beat up forever. You get healthy, you get guys back and then you start to establish a dominance.”
The Jets just want to prevent that turnaround from starting Sunday.
“We know our defense has their hands full, but it’s also going to be a dogfight for us too, because they have a great defense,” Darnold said. “We’re really looking forward to the challenge, though, knowing how great of a quarterback Andrew is.”
Here are other things to know as the Colts and Jets square off:
This will mark the first time the teams face each other since swinging their stunning trade in March that changed the top of the NFL draft.
The Jets acquired the No. 3 overall pick from the Colts to move up to take Darnold, giving them the franchise-type quarterback they have been searching for .
New York sent Indianapolis the No. 6 selection, which the Colts used to pick current starting left guard Quenton Nelson. The Jets also shipped two second-round picks this year — one with which Indianapolis took starting right guard Braden Smith; the other was used in a trade — along with a second-rounder next year.
Jets running back Isaiah Crowell leads the AFC with 390 yards rushing, and ranks third in the NFL behind only Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (480) and Rams’ Todd Gurley (415).
Crowell soared up the list against Denver last Sunday when he set a franchise record with 219 yards rushing on just 15 carries. It also put the controversy from the previous weeks far behind him after he was fined $13,369 by the NFL and scolded by coach Todd Bowles for wiping his rear end with the football after scoring a touchdown at Cleveland in Week 3.
LOTS OF LUCK
Luck has thrown 121 passes in his last two games and leads the league with 245 attempts through five games .
Not bad for a guy who missed all last season with a shoulder injury, but the Colts might not want to keep their franchise QB back there throwing so much. After all, he’s on pace to throw 784 times this season, which would shatter Matthew Stafford’s single-season record of 727 for Detroit in 2012.
Colts coach Frank Reich attributes the high number to his team falling behind early in games, causing Luck and the offense to play catch-up through the air.
Colts right guard Matt Slauson got his NFL start with the Jets in 2009, but this weekend’s reunion plan has changed because of a back injury.
Slauson landed on season-ending injured reserve earlier this week after doctors diagnosed him with two broken vertebrae. Without Slauson, Smith could make his second straight start — this time at his more natural position. The rookie started last week at right tackle.
Indianapolis’ defense has made steady a progression under first-year coordinator Matt Eberflus. While the Colts are tied for third in the league with 17 sacks and have moved out of the bottom quadrant in yards allowed, they’re No. 23 in total defense.
Individually, there are more promising signs.
Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard leads the league with 54 tackles, even after missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury. Defensive end Margus Hunt leads the NFL with nine tackles for loss.