AFC Championship Game Preview: Will the Steelers Show the Jets Some Class?
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The New York Jets are on a magical run, just like they were last season and it is more of the same from their head coach, Rex Ryan.
"It's personal." Ryan has echoed throughout this post-season countless times.
First, it was avenging last year's AFC Championship loss to Indianapolis; next, it was avenging a Monday Night Football slaughter—a 45-3 count, to be exact, by the New England Patriot.
Now, thanks to a 28-21 victory over the top seeded Pats, the Jets will travel to Pittsburgh and take on a Steelers team coming off a rough 31-24 victory over their own divisional rival Baltimore Ravens.
Through it all, Rex Ryan has put more and more pressure on his team to succeed with his constant trash talk and jabs at other teams' players.
It has rubbed off on his players to say the very least, but does it take away from football?
Sure, I can say the same about the lead up towards the Baltimore/Pittsburgh game, but it is common between both of these teams. Never (in my opinion) has a head coach been scrutinized by what he says to the media in the way Ryan and his team has handled themselves in their lead up with the Patriots.
Now that the game is over, we look back and remember a great game.
Brady looked human and Sanchez looked sloppy at times, but persevered in the end.
What will the difference be in the AFC Title game?
Yet, all anyone could talk about was the mindless banter being fired out of the mouths of three key guys in the week leading up: Rex Ryan, Antonio Cromartie and Bart Scott.
Ryan made direct comments towards Brady, constantly criticizing his preparation and play in comparison to Peyton Manning. Even taking a jab at Brady, yet again, in the postgame (that's right Rex, hit a man while he is down, very classy).
Cromartie fired an expletive the two-time Super Bowl MVP's way and Scott went as far as to allegedly threaten to injure Wes Welker after Welker made several references to "feet" during a news conference earlier in the week.
The references were in light of allegations made towards Rex Ryan and a possible "foot-fetish" video featuring him and his wife earlier in the season.
"Be very careful what you say about our coach," Scott told Newsday. "His (Welker's) days in a uniform will be numbered. Put it like that."
The Patriots deserve respect for the way they handled themselves all week. Besides the "feet" comments by Wes Welker (comments that most will suggest got him benched for the first offensive series).
The Patriots organization took everything fired at them through the media with a grain of salt and continued their preparation for the game.
Brady summed up his take on his divisional foes trash talk:
"I don't think that'll have any bearing on (the game), not in any situation," Brady said.
"You can have the whole team talk, 'We're going to do this and do that,' and it doesn't mean anything. To me, it's a lot more hype than substance.
"What really matters is what you do in the game. We could sit here and make all these predictions of what we're going to do, but it's not how we go about our business. We handle it the same way. All the hype, buildup -- but you got to go play. See who's ready to play.
"At this point, we're motivated by much more than what people say," Brady continued.
"We're motivated by the fact that we have a great opportunity to be playing a division rival at home in the most important game of the year. That's plenty of motivation for us. We're going to let our play do the talking as we always do."
The game showed that the Patriots were not truly prepared for the Jets presence on the field. It spelled defeat, but what does this win mean for the Jets?
What will Rex Ryan have to say about the Steelers in the coming week?
Is it personal with Mike Tomlin like he has suggested it will be in other weeks?
This reporter is going to take the high road and talk about the game coming up.
The Jets won a close game at Heinz Field in Week 15, 22-17. Jets QB Mark Sanchez was 19 for 29 for 170 yards while Big Ben went 23 for 44 for 264 yards and 1 TD.
With the play of both players in their playoff match ups, throw those stats out the window, it's a whole new ball game. Both teams have shut down defenses and both have an offense that can grind out wins in the dying minutes.
The Steelers have the big game experience, winning two of the last five Super Bowls.
This is a game that Mark Sanchez has to define himself in. After last year's defeat to the Colts, he has all the motivation a young QB needs to make it to the Super Bowl.
It's possible for a young QB to win it all, look no further than across the field at Ben Roethlisberger.
He won a Super Bowl in 2005, his second year, after losing to New England in the AFC Championship in his rookie year.
The key could be Troy Polamalu and Darelle Revis. Whomever has a big game may take their team to Dallas. For Jet fans, they hope it is the latter or else they will spend another offseason, collecting their feet (pun intended, I hope I don't get benched, sorry Bill) from their collective mouths.
Yet again, without the Lombardi Trophy, their reputation will stink their organization into the 2011 season.
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