Early Three and Outs Force Early Three and Out For New York Jets

Rob ShaefferContributor IIJanuary 24, 2011

Ryan didn't get the effort he expected in the 1st half and his Jets could not recover
Ryan didn't get the effort he expected in the 1st half and his Jets could not recoverAl Bello/Getty Images

Despite a furious comeback in the 4th quarter of Sunday night's AFC Conference Final, the New York Jets came up short in their 2nd attempt in as many years to advance to the Super Bowl.

The Jets team that played the 2nd half of the game could have lined up against the Green Bay Packers February 6 for the right to immortality.

It was the Jets team that fell flat on its face in the 1st half that couldn't get them there.

While the Jets defense was getting manhandled the offense wasn't doing much to take the load off.

Three straight three and outs culminated in a fumble return for a touchdown when Ike Taylor came from the blind side and popped the ball into the air out of Sanchez's hand. William Gay scooped up the ball and trotted 19 yards to give the Steelers a 24-0 lead that would prove to be insurmountable.

The Jets couldn't keep the Steelers offense or defense out of the end zone as the black and gold racked up 231 yards of offense in the first half in addition to Gay's 19 yard defensive touchdown.

A Ben Roethlisberger interception on the 2nd drive of the game and intermission proved to be the only possessions the Steelers did not produce points as their offense was on the field for 21:04 of a possible 30 first half minutes.

After missing countless tackles and getting consistently pushed over by the Steelers offensive line and run over by Rashard Mendenhall throughout the first two quarters, the Jets came out ready to play in the 2nd half.

Whatever Rex Ryan said in the locker room struck a chord as the Jets looked like a different team and held the Steelers scoreless while they got back on track offensively.

Impressively, the Jets picked themselves up off the mat after getting overpowered and dominated early. The hole they'd dug themselves however was too deep and a series of questionable play calls and poor time management will haunt the Jets until training camp.

No matter how valiant or how furious the comeback, it was too little too late for a brash team that will go home once again a victory short of the game they believed they'd play in.

Wins against the Peyton Manning and his Colts and Tom Brady and his Patriots were nice, and to many, they were unexpected.

But like 2010, and like those three fruitless drives in the first half, the Jets are once again three and out.