Monday, January 28, 2008 Updated: January 29, 2:14 PM ET
Call it the curse of Mo Lewis
By Mark Kelly ESPN Research
Sept. 23, 2001: Jets at Patriots
Jets linebacker Mo Lewis blasts Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe as he tries to scramble for a first down with 5:11 left in the fourth quarter and the Jets ahead 10-3. After being attended to on the sideline, Bledsoe returns for the next series but is ineffective -- he turned out to be seriously injured with internal bleeding -- and is replaced by the Pats' sixth-round draft pick from the previous year, Tom Brady.
Did Mo Lewis unwittingly reverse the fortunes of Boston and New York sports on Sept. 23, 2001?
The Jets hold on to win, but this one play fatefully becomes a historic turning point for the New York and Boston sports scenes. Take a look:
Baseball championships from 1919 to Sept. 23, 2001
New York: 33
After Sept. 23, 2001
New York: 0
Super Bowl championships before Sept. 23, 2001
New York: 3
New England: 0
After Sept. 23, 2001
New York: 0
New England: 3
New York Knicks playoff victories
Six years prior to Sept. 23, 2001: 37
Six years since Sept. 23, 2001: 0
Before Mo Lewis' hit Good New York sports
• The Yankees were three-time defending world champions.
• The Mets were the defending National League champs.
• The Knicks were coming off 14 consecutive playoff appearances, having won at least one series in 11 of those seasons.
• The Jets had beaten the Patriots six of the previous seven meetings (seven of eight if you include the Lewis-Bledsoe game).
• The Giants were the defending NFC champs.
Bad Boston sports
• The Patriots had never won a Super Bowl and were coming off a 6-10 season and began 2001 at 0-2 under second-year head coach Bill Belichick, who served as Jets head coach for one day in 2000.
• The Red Sox hadn't won a World Series since 1918.
Since Lewis' hit Bad New York sports
• The Mets have made just one postseason appearance, losing the 2006 NLCS to a Cardinals team that went 83-79. In 2007, the Mets completed the largest collapse in regular-season history by failing to hold a seven-game division lead with 17 games remaining.
• The Jets lost to 2-12 Buffalo at home in Week 16 of 2001, costing them the AFC East title and a first-round bye, which ultimately went to the Patriots. The Jets are 2-11 against the Patriots since the Lewis hit.
• The Yankees blew a 2-1, ninth-inning lead in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, losing to the Diamondbacks and being denied a fourth consecutive championship. The Yankees haven't won a World Series since, suffering four first-round postseason defeats and a historic collapse in the 2004 ALCS after leading Boston three games to none.
• The Knicks haven't won a playoff game. They have significant salary-cap issues. Team president and coach Isiah Thomas was found to have committed sexual harassment, costing Madison Square Garden an $11.5 million settlement.
• The Giants hadn't won a playoff game until this season. The year they do reach the Super Bowl, they have to play the 18-0 Patriots.
Good Boston sports
In his prime, Drew Bledsoe was a fine quarterback. But let's face it, he's no Tom Brady.
• The Patriots became the preeminent team in the NFL. The Tuck Rule. The clutch Vinatieri field goals. Three Super Bowl championships. The acquisition of Randy Moss for a fourth-round pick. Eighteen-and-oh. Any questions?
• The Red Sox have won two World Series. Buoyed by a bloody sock in 2004, they rallied from a three games-to-none deficit to slay the Yankees and sweep the Cardinals. In 2007, they rallied from a three games-to-one deficit to topple the Indians, en route to sweeping the Rockies.
Timeline of the curse
• Sept. 23, 2001: Lewis knocks Bledsoe from the game. Brady takes over as quarterback for Patriots.
• Sept. 23, 2001: The Mets blow a three-run, ninth-inning lead against the Braves that would have cut New York's NL East deficit to 2½ games.
• Sept. 29, 2001: The Mets blow a 5-1, ninth-inning lead against the Braves that would have cut New York's NL East deficit to three games. The Mets finish in third place, six games behind division champ Atlanta.
• Sept. 30, 2001: In his first NFL start, Brady leads the 13-point underdog Patriots to a 44-13 home victory over the Colts, who had scored 87 points in their first two games.
• Dec. 2, 2001: Trailing 13-0 at halftime, the visiting Patriots score 17 unanswered points to defeat the Jets 17-13 and move within a half game of first place in the AFC East.
• Dec. 7, 2001: Jeff Van Gundy resigns as Knicks coach, ending one of the most successful tenures in team history. The Knicks advanced to the second round of the playoffs six times in seven seasons under Van Gundy, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 1999.
• Dec. 30, 2001: Needing to win their final two games to clinch the AFC East and a first-round bye, the Jets lose to the 2-12 Bills at home.
• Jan. 6, 2002: The Patriots clinch the AFC East and a first-round bye with a 38-6 victory over the Panthers.
• Jan. 19, 2002: The Patriots defeat the Raiders in the "Tuck Rule" game to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
• Jan. 27, 2002: As 10-point underdogs, the Patriots defeat the Steelers in Pittsburgh to advance to the Super Bowl.
• Feb. 3, 2002: As 14-point underdogs, the Patriots defeat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
• April 17, 2002: The Knicks finish in last place in the Atlantic Division for first time since 1986-87, which was also the last time they failed to reach the postseason.
• Sept. 15, 2002: The visiting Patriots defeat the Jets 44-7, benefiting from a 90-yard touchdown on an interception return by ex-Jet Victor Green.
• Sept. 29, 2002: The Mets finish in last place for the first time since 1993.
• Oct. 5, 2002: The Yankees are eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1997, suffering a 9-5 loss to the Angels in Game 4 of the ALDS.
• Jan. 5, 2003: The Giants blow a 38-14, second-half lead in an NFC wild-card game, ultimately losing 39-38 to the 49ers.
• Sept. 28, 2003: The Mets finish in last place in the NL East at 66-95. The 95 losses are the team's most since 1993.
• Oct. 5, 2003: The Patriots defeat the Titans 38-30, the first of 21 consecutive victories.
• Oct. 25, 2003: The Yankees lose the World Series in six games as Josh Beckett tosses a five-hit shutout in the clincher.
• Feb. 1, 2004: The Patriots defeat the Panthers 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII on an Adam Vinatieri field goal with four seconds left.
• April 25, 2004: The Knicks are eliminated in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Nets in four games.
• Oct. 3, 2004: The Mets finish the season 71-91, marking the first time since 1992-93 that they had consecutive 90-loss seasons.
• Oct. 20, 2004: The Red Sox defeat the Yankees 10-3 in Game 7 of the ALCS, Boston's fourth consecutive win after falling behind three games to none.
• Oct. 24, 2004: In a battle of 5-0 teams, the Patriots win their 21st consecutive game, 13-7 over the visiting Jets.
• Oct. 27, 2004: The Red Sox win their first world championship since 1918 by completing a four-game sweep of the Cardinals.
• Jan. 15, 2005: The Jets miss two field goal attempts in the final 2:15 that would have advanced them to the AFC Championship Game. The Jets go on to lose to Pittsburgh in overtime.
• Feb. 6, 2005: The Patriots win their second consecutive Super Bowl -- and third in four years -- by defeating the Eagles, 24-21.
• April 20, 2005: The Knicks finish last in the Atlantic Division for the third time in four years.
• July 28, 2005: The Knicks hire Larry Brown, giving him a five-year contract worth between $50 million and $60 million, making him the highest-paid coach in NBA history.
• Oct. 10, 2005: The Yankees lose 5-3 to the Angels in Game 5 of ALDS.
• Jan. 1, 2006: The Jets finish the season 4-12, their worst record since going 1-15 under Rich Kotite in 1996. Coach Herm Edwards is allowed to leave for Kansas City, and the Jets hire Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini to replace him.
• Jan. 24, 2006: Isiah Thomas and MSG are sued for sexual harassment and retaliation by Anucha Browne Sanders.
• April 19, 2006: The Knicks finish the season with 59 losses -- their most since 1985-86 -- despite having the highest payroll in the NBA.
• June 22, 2006: The Knicks fire Brown, replacing him with president/GM Thomas. The team refuses to pay Brown the $40 million left on his contract, arguing that Brown "violated terms of his contract through various acts of insubordination."
• Oct. 7, 2006: The Yankees are eliminated from the postseason with an 8-3 loss in Game 4 of the ALDS at Detroit.
• Oct. 18, 2006: The Mets lose 3-1 to the Cardinals -- winners of 83 regular-season games -- in Game 7 of the NLCS at home. The loss ends an 11-game win streak for the home team in a Game 7 after it had won Game 6.
• Jan. 7, 2007: The Patriots defeat the Jets 37-16 in an AFC wild-card game.
• April 18, 2007: The Knicks finish the season 33-49 and miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.
• Sept. 9, 2007: The Patriots open the season by defeating the Jets 38-14, led by Randy Moss (nine catches for 183 yards and a touchdown), whom the Patriots acquired for a fourth-round draft pick.
• Sept. 30, 2007: The Mets are eliminated from postseason contention with an 8-1 loss to the Marlins. The loss was the 12th in 17 games for New York, which blew a seven-game division lead in that span. No major league team had ever held a seven-game lead with 17 games remaining and not won its league or division.
• Oct. 2, 2007: A jury rules that Thomas and MSG are liable for sexual harassment. MSG was found liable for punitive damages in an amount of $11.6 million, one of the largest sexual harassment judgments in history. The case is later settled for $11.5 million.
• Oct. 7, 2007: Red Sox complete a three-game sweep of the Angels to advance to the ALCS.
• Oct. 8, 2007: Yankees lose 6-4 to the Indians in Game 4 of the ALDS, the third consecutive season in which they're eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. It also marks the seventh season in a row that the Yankees have failed to win the World Series despite having baseball's highest payroll.
• Oct. 14, 2007: The Patriots defeat the Cowboys 48-27 in a matchup of 5-0 teams. Brady throws five touchdown passes as the Patriots score their most points in 23 years. After falling behind 24-21, the Patriots outscore the Cowboys 27-3 to finish the game.
• Oct. 18, 2007: The Joe Torre Era ends as he turns down the Yankees' one-year offer with a pay cut. Torre led the Yankees to 12 consecutive postseasons and four World Series titles.
• Oct. 21, 2007: The Patriots defeat the Dolphins 49-28 as Brady throws a team-record six touchdown passes. Brady has 27 TD passes and just two interceptions through seven games, and the Patriots start 7-0 for the first time in team history.
• Oct. 21, 2007: The Red Sox beat the Indians 11-2 in Game 7 of the ALCS to advance to the World Series, completing a comeback from a three games-to-one deficit. Boston outscored Cleveland 30-5 in the final three games, defeating two 19-game winners -- C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona -- in the process.
• Oct. 28, 2007: The Red Sox complete a four-game sweep of Colorado to win the World Series. They outscore the Rockies 29-10 and trail for only three innings the entire series.
• Dec. 29, 2007: The visiting Patriots complete a 16-0 regular season, defeating the Giants 38-35. Brady sets an NFL record with his 50th touchdown pass of the season, and Moss establishes a new record with his 23rd touchdown catch.
• Jan. 20, 2008: The Patriots earn their fourth trip to the Super Bowl in seven seasons with a 21-12 win over the Chargers, setting the stage for a New England-New York championship against the Giants, who outlast the Packers 23-20 in overtime.