R.I.P. Same Old New York Jets! Victory Ends Decade of Torment Against Patriots
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Former Cowboys and Dolphins head coach Jimmy Johnson once said, "If you talk the talk, you better walk the walk."
Who cares what happens next week when the New York Jets visit the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC title game. Who cares if this is the year of the miracle that we've waited 43 years for.
Because the wicked witch is dead, and she looks eerily similar to the expressionless face of Bill Belichick.
For a whole week the Jets talked about how they were disrespected by the Patriots in a 45-3 New England victory back in early December. For a whole week the Jets yapped about what they thought of Tom Brady, what they would do to Wes Welker. Their coach, Rex Ryan, talked about how this was personal.
And what happened?
The Jets marched into New England, starred at that monster, Tom Brady, right in the eyes and took it to the Patriots in a 28-21 victory to advance to the AFC title game for the second straight year.
It became clear as the game wore on that it was the Jets who were in the heads of the Patriots instead of the other way around, as several Pats players were seen pushing and shoving Jets players on some NHL-style cheap shots.
Will the Jets beat the Steelers for the second time in five weeks?
It was the Jets who played the role of the intimidator. It was the Jets who looked like a top seed in the AFC playoffs.
After a first quarter where the Patriots held a narrow 3-0 lead, it was Gang Green all night long. The Jets scored two second quarter touchdowns, one by LaDainian Tomlinson on a screen from Mark Sanchez and then Braylon Edwards to give New York a 14-3 halftime lead.
Even with New England scoring a touchdown and converting a two-point conversion to cut the lead to 14-11, there was sense of nervous anticipation that finally the demons would be thwarted forever.
Once Sanchez hit Jericho Cotchery on a go-route, and the reliable veteran receiver dashed 58 yards to the Patriots 13, you could feel it. Three plays later, Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone, bringing back memories of his tip-toe touchdown for the Steelers two years ago in the Super Bowl to win that game.
Holmes, who won two games this year for Gang Green against Cleveland and Houston, won his third game with that catch, as hauled in the football and fell perfectly in bounds for the touchdown, sat down on the ground and screamed into the air as he pumped his fists. It was 21-11, there was still 12 minutes to go, but the game was over.
The monkey the size of King Kong was lifted off the Jets' back.
Ten years ago, when Bill Belichick resigned as the head coach of the Jets, Jets nation has waited and waited to get back at him for deserting the Jets in uncertain times.
Jet fans watched for 10 years as the Patriots dominated football with three world championships, division title after division title, victory after victory, while building an immortal status that turned them into the Yankees of professional football.
Jets fans had to live with the fact that it was their team who ushered in the Tom Brady era with a nasty Mo Lewis hit to Drew Bledsoe in 2001.
It was the Jets fans who sat there three seasons ago, when their neighbors the New York Giants found a way to stomp on the Patriots and make 18-0 into 18-1, with a thrilling 17-14 victory in Super Bowl XLII.
And if you were a Jets fan that night after the Giants beat the Pats, you were happy, but wished that one day your team had that opportunity to rub egg all over the face of the Evil Empire from Boston.
Now you got that chance.
When Rex Ryan dashed onto the field after Shonn Greene scored the nail in the coffin touchdown, he was running onto the field for the fans to kick dirt on 10 years of absolute misery against the Patriots, and to officially put an end to the Same Old Jets.
It is fair to say that with this victory, against a Patriots team that nobody thought the Jets could beat, that New York is playing with house money. The Jets will head into Pittsburgh and will face the daunting task of beating the Steelers twice in the same building just five weeks apart. It won't be easy, but right now who cares?
The next time someone critical of Gang Green says "Same Old Jets" after a loss in the middle of September or October, correct them. Quote Ryan and say, "You're right, same old Jets, back in the AFC title game."
Maybe in a few weeks you'll have the bling to prove it, too.
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