Pro Spotlight: Surging Jets One Win From Super Appearance
The belief factor is so high right now with the Jets that it is not out of the realm of possibility that they can walk out of Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday evening with a win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Yes Jets fans, a Super Bowl appearance for the first time since January 12, 1969 can be a possibility. A win over the Colts in the AFC semifinals will be the ticket needed to send the Gang Green faithful to Miami on Feb-ruary 7 for the Super Bowl.
But it won’t be easy. The Jets kept to their faith of as tout defense and a strong running game, which upset the Chargers. Now the stakes are raised against a Colts team that started the Jets magical ride up to this point with a Week 15 victory.
“Motivation is going to come from the fact that the winner of this game advances to the Super Bowl. That’s probably motivation enough,” said Jets coach Rex Ryan. “The fact we did win that game by 14 points, it wasn’t like we squeaked it out by one point or something like that,” Ryan said.
“We played well. Granted, it was the Colt JV team or whatever people want to call it; they still had the Colt uniform on.”
But why would anyone now think the Jets have no chance Many pundits still don’t think a win is possible. Leave it up to Jets coach Rex Ryan to make believers out of anyone.
“I’m not an ‘I-told-you-so’ guy — until after we win the Super Bowl. (smiling) Then I’ll make that comment. But it’s not even about that at all. It’s about a belief in the people we had at the organization from the top, from (Jets owner) Woody Johnson, all the way down, just a strong belief that we had a lot of things in place,” Ryan said.
“You’ve got everybody buying in. I mean, I’ve got guys crying in the locker room because they’re not active. So that’s a real positive thing for me. Everybody wants to contribute to the team’s success, not the individual success.” It’s worked so far for Ryan’s team. If the Jets defense can find a way to confound NFL MVP QB Peyton Manning and an efficient offensive machine, then it will be a close affair.
“You can’t give (Peyton) Manning the same looks all the time. You have to really mix things up because he is going to go back to the sideline, look at the pictures and make his adjustments,” said Jets LB Bart Scott.
“You have to continue to be changing and evolving during the game as well so (that) everything looks new to him.”
No doubt Scott has kept hearing how the Jets would not have won the Week 15 game against the Colts if Manning had remained in the game.
Indianapolis was up 15-10 when Manning was removed and the Jets then made their comeback win.
“We were holding our own; we were weathering the storm. He’s a great quarterback and they’ve been in that system for so long that they can do it with their eyes closed,” Scott said.
It will all come down to how much the Jets can slow down Indianapolis’ offense. CB Darrelle Revis will get plenty of time to shadow the Colts Pro Bowl WR Reggie Wayne. But the Jets must get a consistent pass rush to fluster Manning. They must also not allow TE Dallas Clarks to catch multiple balls up the middle of the field.
Offensively the Jets must do three things to succeed which they accomplished against the Chargers. The offensive line knows they must protect Sanchez and open holes for RBs Shonn Greene (128 yards against San Diego) and Thomas Jones.
The second thing is to not allow pass rushers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, two speedy defensive ends to go wild and sack Jets QB Mark Sanchez.
We got a pretty good feel for how those guys play and what they’re all about. (Robert) Mathis didn’t play the last game, so that’s going to be a little different,” said Jets offensive lineman Damien Woody.
“(Dwight) Freeney only played in third down situations, so this time around they’re going to play on all three downs. That’s definitely going to present a challenge especially when we’re throwing the ball because those guys are probably the best defensive ends in the league as far as rushing the passer.
We’re definitely going to need to be smart when we pass and run.”
And the pressure will be on Sanchez to repeat a close to mistake free day. Except for one interception against the Chargers, Sanchez ran an efficient game. He made a nice pass into the end zone in the fourth quarter, which Dustin Keller caught for the Jets touchdown to give them the lead.
And with the world all looking at the Jets, only 60 minutes stand in the way of them making history. Scott says he knows the stakes all too well.
“We are just going in there with a sense and understanding of what type of moment we’re in. Four quarters and we’re going to the Super Bowl.”