The one game the Jets have played at home this season, MetLife Stadium was poised to explode.
There was a palpable energy in the sold-out building, from 78,000 fans hungry to burst into a party befitting of the home team administering a smack down in it’s own back yard.
The vibe for the Jets home opener Sept. 10 against the Dolphins was not a lot unlike the way it felt inside Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night for the AL wild-card game against the A’s.
There was a buzz of anticipation, an urgent sense of hope the Yankees would strike early and make the night a celebration as opposed to three hours of angst and stress.
On Wednesday night in The Bronx, Luis Severino mowed down the A’s in the top of the first with electric stuff and a pair of strikeouts then Aaron Judge delivered a monstrous two-run home run for a 2-0 lead after only an inning.
And so the groundwork was laid for a memorable night that sent the Yankees to Boston for the ALDS.
The 1-3 Jets, losers of their past three games, return home Sunday to MetLife, where they’ll play their next three games, and they need to take cue from the Yankees and strike early against a Broncos team that’s coming off a heart-wrenching home loss to the Chiefs — and is on a short week having played Monday night.
The Jets, like the Yankees did to Oakland, need to lay the foundation for a memorable day against Denver. They, too, need to establish themselves as a difficult team to beat at home.
These next three weeks — with the Broncos, Colts and Vikings coming to town — is their only realistic chance to turn this into a season to remember.
The Jets need to make MetLife into a home-field advantage, something they’ve failed to do for too long.
The Jets are just 12-13 at home under coach Todd Bowles. Prior to Bowles, they went just 26-22 in six seasons under Rex Ryan.
Not good enough.
To make home field the advantage it’s supposed to be, it starts with playing better football.
The formula is pretty simple: If the Jets play well, the fans will come. And if the fans are there and the atmosphere is raucous, it’s a clear advantage. Because there are few fans in all of sports who were more ready, willing and hungry.
“This is our house,’’ defensive tackle Steve McLendon said. “Look at is like this: If an intruder breaks into your house, you’re going to do everything to protect that house. That’s all we’ve got to do. It’s another team coming into our house and we’ve got to do whatever to takes to protect our house.’’
Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates is desperate to create an early spark.
“We’ve got to go to work and go to the field angry,’’ Bates said. “We have to have a better opening series and that starts with coaching. We have to find a way to get into a rhythm.’’
Receiver Jermaine Kearse, who played in Seattle from 2012-16, knows the feeling of home dominance — the Seahawks having gone 39-7 at home including playoffs while he was there.
“You’ve got to protect home field,’’ Kearse said. “That’s just that simple. When you’re playing at home, you have all that energy on your side from the fan base and you’re hyped to play at home. It’s just a different environment than going on the road and it should be an advantage. We’ve just got to take care of the home games.’’
It’s something the Jets simply haven’t done in too long. Bowles has seen his team start off too sluggishly too often. This has become an alarming trend that he’s got to put to an end before it ends for him.
Bowles recognizes how critical this rare three-game home stand is.
“We should be angry and motivated when the game starts,’’ Bowles said. “You want to defend home turf. You don’t want anybody walking into your stadium and beating you. It’s important to get on a winning steak — one at a time — that can get us back into this season.’’
Before it’s too late.