NFL Playoff Report: In the aftermath of Saturday's astounding 28-21 J-E-T-S victory in Foxboro, (probably the teams biggest surprise win since a rifle armed Q.B. named Joe Willie Namath guaranteed an upset victory in Super Bowl III over the then extra large Baltimore Colts of the rival NFL), we've ben seeing one print out after another alluding to some magic formula required for this years version of the Green & White to go into Heinz Field this coming weekend and once again come away victorious against the ultra rough & tumble Pittsburgh Steelers.
Almost completely absent from that train of thought is New York only recently left Steel Town, what was it three, four weeks ago with a huge 22-17 win in blizzardy conditions at a time when they had almost been left for playoff dead.
In fact that big win was followed by a discouraging loss to the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field. In no way, shape or form did the J-E-T-S look like a team soon to be a mere game away from playing in their first Super Bowl since lovely young women started wearing ultra short skirts and burning bra's and the U.S. military was still on the tail end of playing distasteful war games with the much smaller nation of North Vietnam.
During that eon like period, (forty two years), the Steelers have won so many, Super Bowls that is, six in seven appearances, the hometown faithful, if not a nationwide base of NFL fanatics have come to expect they will almost certainly do so again whenever they get close enough to smell the big money.
In this case, (returning to the original train of thought), against a Jet team that is still considered suspect even after defeating the Manning led Colts in Indy and completely frustrating the great Tom Brady in the generally friendly confines of Foxboro, the Steeler faithful have very conveniently attempted to wipe that Week 16 defeat from their collective mindset, and they may to the most part, (after all defensive catalyst Troy Polamalu was absent from the affair), although something small, a tiny pin prick in the rear, will almost certainly linger with them.
And it will linger with the Jet side too. They know well the team recently invaded Heinz Field and came away with a victory when anything else would have spelled imminent playoff doom.
They also know they were playing far from their best football at the time, are cranking on most cylinders now, and have their own very certain kind of momentum in place that is not easily dissuaded at this time of the year.
Back in the summer when the J-E-T-S were being touted as Supe XLV contenders, the formula seemed simple enough. On the defensive side of the ball get all over the passer almost exclusively utilizing their impressive front six or seven while allowing corners Derrelle Revis, big talking Antonio Cromartie, rookie Kyle Wilson, (Drew Coleman has really emerged), to do their thing outside shutting down even the best receivers the National Football League had or has to offer.
On the offensive side the formula was equally pat. Run the ball behind one of the leagues top offensive lines, put second year QB Mark Sanchez in favorable down and yardage positions to hit pass catching targets Dustin Keller, Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery.
It all seemed to be working as New York got out of the gate in generally splendid fashion, but in the second half of the season the team struggled mightily. The pass rush waned, blitz packages involving corners and safeties were called on and the team started giving up points in bucketfuls.
As a whole things looked very dicey for Fireman Ed's favorite squad and in reality it took a Jacksonville Jaguars loss to the horrible Redskins to even guarantee them a spot in this years post season tourney.
But that all seems like ancient history now as that which had waned, the dangerous pass rush, great corner coverage, time consuming running game are all back in play and the very dangerous Jet wideouts have chosen just the right time to get away from the god awful habit of dropping huge Sanchez offerings at the most inopportune point of the battle.
Yes, the New York Jets will head into Pittsburgh this coming Sunday a lethal bunch. An extremely confident team, knowing full well they have already beaten the Steelers once, (Polamalu or no), and they are exceedingly capable of doing the same once more if they play up to their full potential.
And why shouldn't they?
Forty plus years is a very long time to stay away from a game or place where celebrity is made. (It worked wonders for Joe Willie, he of the Miami Beach poolside guarantee who's legend still burns bright all these years later—the fairly recent Suzy Kolber 'kiss me' incident notwithstanding.)
This years' Jet team had already discovered a kind of celebrity off the televised summer series, HBO's Hard Knocks. During the latter part of the season though they found that type of fanfare can be fleeting.
Now Rex Ryan's swaggering bunch find themselves on the edifice of capturing a more time tested type of notoriety. The kind this team would appear to revel in, or even badly crave.
Yes, it's been a very long time coming for the New York Jets, so once more we'll send this message to the widespread Pittsburgh Steeler nation.
Whatever the point-spread or fraught filled predictions coming from the pens or mouthes of endless NFL aficionados the J-E-T-S will not be underdogs when they arrive in Heinz Field Sunday afternoon.
They will be loose, they will come at your Steelers with everything blazing and when the final gun goes off Pittsburgh fanatics will end up realizing the New York Jets had the home town side beaten before the game even began.
That's it for now,