Is it me or are the New York Jets changing the face of the NFL? What I mean is take a look at the brashness that they are exhibiting as they advance through the playoffs. A coach in Rex Ryan who almost stoops to the level of his players in saying what is on his mind. Players that celebrated on the field like school kids after winning a playoff game where no one, including yours truly, didn’t think they’d win. Yet they persisted and are on their way to the unfriendly confines of Heinz Field where they will play a Steelers team they beat late in the season.
This team really talked a big game and ate it for the late season loss to the Patriots, a 45-3 debacle on Monday night football. Yet they stayed true to who they were and talked brashly about getting back into the thick of things, through late season wins over Pittsburgh. From Coach Ryan’s pregame declaration that it was personal between he and Belichick, to Antonio Cromartie’s expletive pre-game comments about Tom Brady, this team has been bellacose, verbose, inflammatory. LOL Damn have they made these playoffs fun
Then you have the Patriots. They were above the smack talk, or so we thought, then Wes Welker gets roped into making a reference regarding feet which was an obvious smack toward the much publicized fetish of Rex Ryan. He subsequently gets benched for the beginning of the game which resulted in the Patriots never getting in sync the rest of the game. To hear Deion Branch call them classless is like the pot calling the kettle black. How soon we forget!! You remember the 2006 AFC Divisional playoff when the Patriots came from behind to beat the San Diego Chargers don’t you?
The Patriots started a near fist fight on the Charger logo when the game was over doing Shawne Merrimans’ “Lights Out” dance?? How about the 2004 AFC Championship when Deion Branch, who on the decisive touchdown, ran a reverse into the endzone waving goodbye to the nearest Steeler defender. Take your medecine and be quiet….and this is before we start talking about a team that ran scores up on teams in 2007 in the most distasteful fashion.
Lost in all of this is the fact Mark Sanchez is growing up right before our very eyes. He’s beaten two straight Hall of Famers in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady yet no one has acknowledged that. The fact that the defense has throttled two offenses and befuddled those same two quarterbacks and nearly knocked Brady into next season. The Jets coverage was so great on one play ESPN showed Brady had over 8.5 seconds on one play and still couldn’t find a receiver.
That the league’s #2 defense has grown into a fire breathing monster and headed for Pittsburgh. Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson are averaging over 120 yards a game in the playoffs. Yet now the Jets don’t want to talk. This could be the worst thing they could do since the focus has been on their antics and not on their X’s and O’s. I hope they lapse into who they really are. A trip to the Super Bowl may depend on it.
How does a team go from losing a battle for first place in a division 45-3 to winning an AFC Divisonal Playoff over the New England Patriots 28-21? Emotion. Well emotion and tight coverage. The defense that we were promised between Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis finally showed up. The coverage was so tight the defenese was able to get to Tom Brady sacking him 5 times and had him uncomfortable and double clutching all night. A defense missing Kris Jenkins and Jim Leonard hadn’t looked this powerful in many weeks. They backed up the bravado and talk that had dominated the week leading up to the game.
Tom Brady couldnt find an open reciever for much of the night and he was getting hit like he had been by the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots handicapped their own efforts by beginning the day with Wes Welker on the bench for disciplinary reasons. This backfired and kept them from establishing a rhythm although they moved the football on their opening drive they struggled in close. First they forced Brady into an interception by linebacker David Harris. The lack of a running game came that plagued New England all year showed up at the goal line on the next drive. They tried to pass into the endzone resulting in an endzone drop by TE Alge Crumpler. The chance to get their crowd into the game and raise self doubt in the Jets had come and gone. All of this before we get to New England’s ill advised fake punt which led to a Sanchez to Braylon Edwards to make it 14-3 and an eery blanket of silence cascaded over Gillette Stadium. More important the self doubt started to permeate that Patriot sideline.
The Jets were highly motivated to make amends for the embarrassing defeat a month ago. The emotion of disliking your divisional rival. Rex Ryan and his team turned the tables on the favored Patriots starting with all the trash talk that roped the Patriots into some uncommon ground. No not this week, go all the way back to when Rex was at the podium and made the declaration that they were going after the Patriots. That he hadn’t come to New York to “kiss Belichick’s rings” and the barbs didn’t stop there. Getting under the skin of Bill Belichick is what Rex was trying to do when he said this game was personal about wanting to beat Bill and the Patriots.
With tactical dominance established defensively, the Jet were able to let their offense settle down and get into the game. Mark Sanchez came of age with a solid performance throwing for 194 yards on 16 of 25 passing and 3 touchdowns. Dare we say he outperformed Tom Brady? Yes he did and a rushing attack that complemented Sanchez with over 120 yards rushing kept the clock moving. Once they started to believe as an overall unit the game was effectively over. The Jets received an emotional pep talk from Dennis Byrd before the game and carried his jersey out to the pregame coin toss. They channeled that along with wanting to make amends for their embarrassing defeat a month ago. Add to that the doubting press, and an angry Jet closed ranks and took the field with something to prove. Did they?? LOL See you in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship.