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Published: January 16, 2011
We’ll be the first to tell you that this playoff run by the New York Jets has taken us by surprise. We picked the Indianapolis Colts in the wild card game and then the New England Patriots have been our Super Bowl champion pick since the summer, so seeing Gang Green march past both of the AFC strongholds has been a pleasant shock, to say the least.
The brash talk that has been a constant for Rex Ryan and his wards was mocked throughout the season by all the critics, but he (and they) have backed everything up. What’s wrong with having the balls to say that you expect to win the Super Bowl? Any head coach that breaks training camp and tells even his closest friends that his team is mediocre and will not win anything has given up before the coin toss. Give Ryan credit for being so forthcoming, even when it seemed to be blowing up in his face.
That would have been Week 13 and 14, when the Jets dropped two divisional games in a row and looked abysmal in doing so. The 45-3 Monday Night dismantling at Foxboro was followed up by a 10-6 home loss to the Miami Dolphins that had ‘hangover’ written all over it. Things could have gone south but the Jets went into Pittsburgh and came away with a improbable 22-17 victory over the favored Steelers. They clinched a wild card playoff berth a week later, even though they dropped a road game to the Bears.
The second season has been good to the Ryan-led Jets, with them making it to the AFC Championship game for the second consecutive year. Mark Sanchez has four road playoff wins under his belt already in just two seasons in the NFL and can make it five if he and his teammates can pull off another ‘impossible.’
Surely the Steelers will be the favorites in the game on Sunday and should be. They are playing at home and took care of the big and bad Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round. Down by 14 points at halftime, Pittsburgh turned it around and made the Ravens pay for their turnovers.
So why are we finally going to pick the Jets? It seems as if it is destiny for them to continue this crazy ride all the way to the Super Bowl on February 6 in North Texas. Sanchez threw for three touchdowns against the Pats and had zero picks. The Jets defense stifled Tom Brady and the rest of the New England offense, sacking the perennial All-Pro quarterback five times, and the ground attack that was so essential at Indy was once again on track. Shonne Greene put the dagger in with a late rushing score (76 yards on 17 carries in all) and LaDanian Tomlinson added 43 yards on 10 carries and scored the team’s first touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Sanchez.
Defensive end Sean Ellis had two of the five sacks and linebacker David Harris had nine tackles and an interception. Once again, cornerback Darrelle Revis shut down a team’s top wideout, this time it being Deon Branch.
By beating two quality teams in the Colts and number one seeded Patriots, the Jets have proved that they belong. Now the underdogs will spend another week talking about the game to come and more than likely have the skill to back them up.
Photo: Bill Menzel
Tagged with: Afc Championship Game, Baltimore Ravens, Gang Green, Hangover, Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Playing At Home, Playoff Berth, Rex Ryan, Road Game, Second Consecutive Year, Second Season, Steelers, Strongholds, Wards, Wild Card Game