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Life for a Jets fan must be tough. Something the folks at our Jets blog, Gang Green Nation, knows all too well.
On Sunday, New York lost the AFC Championship game, 30-17, continuing decades of futility.
Make it 41 years and counting. An unlikely run came to the end today in Indianapolis. The Jets fought their hearts out, but the best player in football had his way with the defense in the second half.
You can say it was an incredible run considering the team had a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach. You can say all considered, it was a heck of a run, especially given the struggles the Jets had in the middle of the year.You can say this team has a very bright future with a promising young quarterback. You would be right, but it just wasn't quite enough this year. [...]
I'm sure in a few weeks, we'll be able to look back on this season with a smile and be proud of the team. Right now, though, it just hurts. It's another blown double digit lead just like that 1998 AFC Championship in Denver. The Jets aren't AFC Champions. The Colts were better today. Peyton Manning might be the best ever in football. And it hurts.
SB Nation's Colts blog, Stampede Blue, is still piecing together some of their thoughts after Sunday's AFC Championship that earned their team a trip to the Super Bowl, but they had some early reaction in a quick recap.
The Colts O had too many weapons and the Colts D showed yet again that the finesse, "can't stop the run" label is hopelessly outdated.
With Reggie Wayne slowed to a mere 3 for 55 by Darrelle Revis, Pierre Garçon and Austin Collie combined for 18 receptions (including a AFCCG record 11 from Garçon) for 274 yards with a TD each. The Colts put up the first 350+ yard passing game against the Jets D and racked up a QB rating of 123. They were supplemented by the Colts ground game emerging to pick up 4.6 a carry and ... outgain the Jets vaunted ground game 101 to to 85.
That 85 yards by the Jets came on 27 carries for a pitiful 3.1 average. The Colts paid early for their run focused D giving up TDs on drives built around 45 and 80 yard passes, but even against fronts stacked against the Jets passing game was unable to keep pace with the Colts O once it adjusted to the Jets blitz heavy strategy.
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Peyton Manning threw two touchdown passes in the second half and the Indianapolis Colts punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLIV with a 30-17 win over Mark Sanchez and the upstart New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts are now in the Super Bowl for the second time in the past four years as the franchise is looking to win its third Super Bowl. In the 2006 season, the Colts defeated the Bears, 29-17, while the Baltimore Colts took a 16-13 decision over the Dallas Cowboys following the 1970 season.
Indianapolis will play the winner of today's NFC title game between Minnesota and New Orleans. The Super Bowl will be in two weeks in Miami.
The win is also revenge on two counts for Indianapolis as the team avenged a 16-7 loss to the Joe Namath and the underdog Jets in Super Bowl III and got payback for New York spoiling Indianapolis' bid for a perfect season in a Week 16, 29-15 loss in Indianapolis.
Manning finished the game 26-for-39 with 377 yards and three touchdowns while Pierre Garcon, Dallas Clark and Austin Collie all caught scores for the Colts, who defeated the Jets for the first time in the postseason as the team also dropped a 41-0 decision to New York in a 2002 AFC first-round game.
Garcon had 11 catches for 151 yards, Collie made seven receptions for 123 yards and Joseph Addai had 16 carries for 80 yards in the win. Matt Stover was 3-for-3 on field goals and also hit all three extra points.
Sanchez had a good game in his third postseason start as he went 17-for-30 with 257 yards, two touchdowns and an interception with Dustin Keller and Braylon Edwards each catching a score.
However, it wasn't enough for the Cinderella-story Jets as the team saw their bid for their first Super Bowl appearance since the win over Baltimore in 1971 fall one-game short.
If your team has a ten-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and you have the ball, prevailing wisdom compels you to rely on your running game -- especially when your running back is averaging five yards per carry.
The Colts, though, have elected to pass on about half their plays during their march down the field. And guess what? For the most part, it's working. Pierre Garçon seems physically incapable of not catching a football -- the man has 151 yards off 11 receptions.
By the way, I think Garçon's nickname should just be ALT 135 at this point.
You know an offense is clicking when you think, “whatever happens here, I don’t see the defense stopping them.” That’s Indianapolis right now. It’s less a question of whether the Jets can stop Peyton Manning and the Colts passing attack; the only suspense is whether the Colts will complete a 6, 10, or 15 yard pass.
That’s the way the last drive went, anyway. Going 80 yards down the field, Manning hit over and over and over again—on slants, fades, and then right down the seam, to a wide open Dallas Clark for a 15-yard touchdown. The game’s not over yet, but when Manning’s playing like that, you’re not going to beat him. Sorry, Sanchize.
Video has surfaced of Mark Sanchez's 80-yard connection to Braylon Edwards for a touchdown. The score gave the Jets a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Kids, this is how you do a pump-fake:
Early in the third quarter, Jets running back Shonn Greene left the field and headed to the locker room after climbing out of a pile of Colts defenders. CBS color man Phil Simms speculated that the injury was to Greene's thigh, but there's been no official word yet.
As soon as more information is being made available, we'll pass along an update.
UPDATE: This is from NBC Sports.
Shonn Greene exited Sunday's AFC Championship at the start of the third quarter with an undisclosed injury.
Greene appeared to suffer a stinger or rib injury. Injured on New York's first second-half possession, Greene seemingly had a difficult time inhaling and exhaling as he made his way to the locker room. CBS reports that Greene didn't look good after coming out of the X-ray room and is out "for the foreseeable future." Thomas Jones is handling every-down back duties.
When Clutch Mark Sanchez gave way in the regular season to Error-Prone Mark Sanchez, writer types such as myself snickered. We facetiously shouted, "POISE" whenever he threw a pick or let loose with a wounded duck.
Well, when I say "poise" now, I am no longer being snide. The stats speak for themselves: nearing the half, Sanchez has completed 5 of 7 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. The second touchdown looked like this:
Look at that blur. Does that look like a touchdown pass to you? Well, it was. Despite being absolutely bum-rushed, Sanchez threw a perfect strike in the end zone. Okay, sorry. I'll stop genuflecting at the feet of Mark Sanchez. For a little while, at least.
And now there's video. At 30 seconds, you see the hit--and the POISE--in all its glory:
Just when it looked like the Colts were about to hit their stride… After a Colts field goal put the first points on the board on the preceding drive, New York trotted out for the obligatory three-and-out, after which, Peyton Manning would surely connect with Reggie Wayne on a back-breaking 60-yard touchdown.
Except… Not so fast. Mark Sanchez faked to Shonn Greene on a play-action pass, pump faked Indy’s superstar Dwight Freeney, and hit for an off-balance, 40-yard bomb to Braylon Edwards. And unlike literally HUNDREDS of other times throughout his career, Edwards actually caught it, and took it the distance for an 80-yard touchdown. Can the Jets win this?
Colts rookie wide receiver Pierre Garçon has already made an impact on his team and the NFL at large, as the Jets are already learning today. Garçon has recorded 70 receiving yards in the first quarter alone.
So the question, naturally, is this. How do you type "ç"? It's easy. Hold your ALT key, press 1, 3, 5, then release the ALT key. Boom! You are now slightly more intelligent than you were five seconds ago.
For further reading on Garçon, check out this article about the wide receiver and his ties to earthquake-stricken Haiti.
In the first quarter of the AFC Championship, Colts running back Joseph Addai suffered an injury. After being looked at on the sideline, he was taken to the locker room.
Unfortunately, we don't have any specific information on the injury just yet. We'll update as soon as we learn more.
UPDATE: Jim Nantz just passed along word that Addai has left the locker room. He suffered a shoulder injury, but his return is being described as "probable."
UPDATE 2: Addai is now back in the game. Huzzah!
Well, you have to admit… The Jets looked pretty decent on their first offensive series. That’s the greatest variable in all of this—whether the Jets can mount a serious attack on offense—and at least on the first series, Mark Sanchez and co. looked pretty competent, notching a few first downs, and getting into field goal range.
But that means nothing, of course. Haven’t you heard? NOBODY makes field goals in the postseason. From Yahoo! Sports’ Shutdown Corner:
Kickers are making 57.7 percent of their attempts in the playoffs, down from 81.3 percent in the regular season. That’s a remarkable plummet. The stock market looks at that drop and says, “Wow, that’s harsh.” So far, the field goal percentage of all kickers in the playoffs is worse than that of the worst team in the regular season.
The Tampa Bay Bucs made 16-of-26 field goal attempts this season. Right now, playoff kickers are 15-of-26.
It’s not just that a bad batch of field goal kickers made it to the playoffs, either. I checked. As it turns out, it’s a better than average group of field goal kickers. Again, the entire NFL converted 81.3 percent of all field goals this year, and the gentlemen who kicked into the postseason made 85.2 of their field goals.
And today, Jay Feely continued the trend. Despite a perfect set-up from the shaky Jets offense, Feely’s 44-yard field goal sailed wide, and the Jets’ surprise drive yielded nothing.
In the interest of stoking the embers, I'm passing this piece along from Will Leitch.
Your attempts to revitalize your downtown are proving ineffective at overcoming years of urban decay; your shifting attitude toward daylight savings makes it impossible to figure out what the hell time it ever is; your hastily constructed skyscrapers are so flimsy they can't stand up to wind; the Central Canal that runs through your city is a glorified stream; you're responsible for the hypocritical, exploitative monster that is the NCAA; you built a monorail, for cripes sake; your primary cultural moment was being where everybody lived on "One Day at a Time"; it is physically impossible to get a bite to eat in your town after 8:30 p.m.; and the only thing visiting teams' players say about your town is that it has unusually lawless strip clubs. Oh, and nobody cares about the Indy 500 anymore.
Sorry, Indianapolis residents. Don't get too down on yourselves. The interstate highways that run through your city offer a remarkably smooth ride. And did I mention your beltway? Fantastic!
If you're a Colts fan, head on over to our Colts blog, Stampede Blue. They have a game thread up and ready to go. Discuss! Argue! Demonstrate! Complain! Debate! Complain some more!
Stampede Blue has rolled out a set of statistics pertaining to the Jets' and Colts' performances this season. While not completely one-sided, they seem to tilt in the Colts' favor. If you're looking for a preview of the game from New York's perspective, check out Gang Green Nation's previews of the Jets' run offense, run defense, pass offense, and pass defense.
Here's one piece of statistical goodness for Jets fans: in the regular season, the Jets actually posted a higher point differential (+112) than the Colts (+109). Countless variables factor into point differential, of course, but this might come as a surprise to the casual observer.
Apparently, Jets coach Rex Ryan felt that the Colts were a little low on locker room fodder, so he donated something to the cause. From Pro Football Talk:
"It's going to be the combo platter," Ryan said of his defensive schemes today. "You come after them some, play some coverages, and then mix some coverages that he's never seen before."
Yes, friends, over the past week, Rex Ryan has invented a defensive system that the NFL, in its nearly century-old history, has failed to come up with on its own. What could this possibly involve? Medieval weaponry? Manipulation of spacetime? Helmets mounted with loudspeakers emanating the nonlethal frequency that makes people vomit? Food? Yeah...probably food.
Our Jets blog, Gang Green Nation, has a live game thread set up for you. Fans are already starting a ruckus in there. If you're a Jets fan, or just a fan who has the compulsive desire to talk about football, get in there.
The conjecture is all over the Internet in spades, but what do the Saints' and Colts' statistics have to say? Our Colts blog, Stampede Blue, has neatly broken down all sorts of statistical goodies.
Which team has the best red zone efficiency? At what point in the field do the Saints and Colts typically start their drives? All of it is here, and you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't check it out.
We know the story, the Jets are a run-heavy team that plays great defense in order to protect rookie QB Mark Sanchez. So far in the playoffs, it’s worked. The Jets defense was able to contain the high-powered Chargers offense and score just enough to win. Now, they face the most prolific QB of the past decade, Peyton Manning. It’s likely the Colts will score at home, so the Jets offense will need to keep pace. How do you do that? Run the ball to set up the pass.
The Jets do not want Mark Sanchez to have to carry the load. He’s going to have to make plays. The run game can make life easier on him. If Gang Green can pound it on Indianapolis’ small front, we could see situations like in the Wild Card round where receivers ran wide open on play action because the Bengals had to sell out on the run. That would make life easy on Sanchez. He’ll have to make plays one way or another. The Jets may have a great defense, but it’s next to impossible to beat the Colts in Indianapolis without the offense putting up points or making any big plays in the passing game.
We sent over some questions about the AFC Championship game and the Indianapolis Colts to Stampede Blue – see the results below.
What weakness of the Jets are the Colts going to exploit?
Probably inexperience and sub par play of the Jets passing attack. While Mark Sanchez has not gone out there and thrown the “killer” INT in the two Jets playoff wins, he has not played all that well either. The Colts will look to stop the Jets ground game and force Mark Sanchez to throw from the pocket.
What weakness on the Colts will the Jets go after?
The Jets will likely attack the Colts inability to create a consistent ground game. Against the Ravens, who run a very similar defense to the Jets, the Colts ran the ball for only 42 yards and averaged 1.7 yards a rush. They were able to convert key third downs passing, and Peyton Manning was able to attack weaknesses in the Ravens secondary. The Jets will likely look to do the same thing against the Colts, but attempt to limit Manning.
Evaluate the Colts head coach (and staff) in terms of being ready for a playoff game like this.
During the preparation leading up to the Ravens game, no one coaching staff had more pressure on them to win than Jim Caldwell and his group. The Colts had rested starters down the stretch in the regular season, and such a formula has often been unsuccessful. Against the Ravens, the Colts bucked that trend. Jim Caldwell used the time to keep his players fresh, and when they did practice he made the #1 offense practice against the #1 defense. This is something rarely done during the regular season and even rarer in the playoffs. So, for this upcoming AFCCG, I think Caldwell will have his men ready and focused.
Give us a ‘surprise’ player who could be a star on Sunday.
Pierre Garcon starts at WR alongside Reggie Wayne. Wayne is the Colts best receiver, and he will likely have a battle royale lasting all afternoon with the outstanding Darrelle Revis. The Jets will likely shift their coverages to limit Wayne and Dallas Clark. This means possible one-on-one opportunities that young, second-year player Pierre Garcon could take advantage of. Garcon has had a heavy heart of late, worrying about whether friends and relatives in Haiti after the earthquake.
Visit Stampede Blue to keep up with the Colts.
Curtis Martin is returning to the New York Jets and Edgerrin James is returning to the Indianapolis Colts.
No, no, this isn’t 2005. Both players are returning as honorary captains for Sunday’s AFC Championship games.
The last time these two players were on the same field in a playoff game the Jets smoked the Colts 41-0.
Former stars returning for a major playoff game? Deuce McAlister would tell you that’s sooo last week.
We sent over some questions about the AFC Championship game and the New York Jets to Gang Green Nation – see the results below.
What weakness of the Colts are the Jets going to exploit?
The Colts are small up front defensively. They gave up over 125 yards on the ground during the regular season. The Jets have one of the most physical offensive lines in the game and a power back, Shonn Greene, who has broken out in the Playoffs. The Jets are going to pound it and try to control the clock.
What weakness on the Jets will the Colts go after?
The answer is always the rookie quarterback for the Jets. No matter how well the Jets run it, they aren’t going to win in Indianapolis unless Mark Sanchez makes a few plays. Gang Green may have a great defense, but Peyton Manning will put up points. Sanchez has only one turnover in the past four games, but fans surely will flash back to the middle of the season when Mark was giving the ball away like it was candy. The Colts have two excellent pass rushers in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis who look to strip the ball whenever possible. If Sanchez gives the ball away even once, it may be too much for the Jets to overcome.
Evaluate the Jets head coach (and staff) in terms of being ready for a playoff game like this.
I think Rex Ryan is one of the best X’s and O’s guys in the business. With that said, I think the most important thing he has going for him is the confidence he’s instilled in his players. It’s been talked about to death in the media. He believes in his guys. His guys believe in him. This Jets team is showing up in Indianapolis expecting to win. After a pair of road Playoff wins, it would be human nature for a team to feel like it’s playing with house money, particularly with a rookie quarterback. That’s not the case in New York.
Give us a ‘surprise’ player who could be a star on Sunday.
Dustin Keller. He had a disappointing regular season, but he’s caught the touchdown catch that put the Jets ahead for good in the first two Playoff games. This game is a homecoming for him. He played his college ball at Purdue. You need to score touchdowns in the red zone when Peyton Manning is the other quarterback. I’m sure we’ll see the Jets look to the tight end in scoring position.
Finish this statement: If we don’t win this game I’ll…
Be very proud of my team. The Jets had a great season and silenced a ton of doubters. They have a great young core and are set up to be back in this game for years to come. With that said, you can only rationalize a loss to a certain degree. No Jets fan under 41 can say they were alive for a Super Bowl featuring our team. These opportunities come along rarely so a loss would be a bitter disappointment.
My head tells me beating the best player in the league in his building will be very difficult. The offense will have to control the ball on the ground to limit the time Peyton Manning has with it. The defense will have to play a terrific game. The secondary has to hold firm against an explosive passing game. The Jets may need a nonoffensive touchdown on either a Brad Smith return or a turnover.
The Jets actually have the right players to make all of this happen. My heart tells me it does, and Gang Green pulls a 20-17 upset.
Visit Gang Green Nation for your daily Jets fix.
Nothing says, “Welcome to the post season!” like a clump of injuries on both sides of the ball.
The Jets had three OL members not even lace up for practice, while two defensive linemen were limited.
Meanwhile, the following 15 Colts players all practiced, with injuries.
Participating fully: running back Joseph Addai (shoulder), defensive end Ervin Baldwin (shin), linebacker Gary Brackett (calf), safety Melvin Bullitt (shoulder), offensive tackle Ryan Diem (elbow), defensive end Dwight Freeney (foot), linebacker Cody Glenn (back), defensive tackle Antonio Johnson (shoulder), offensive tackle Charlie Johnson (foot), defensive end Robert Mathis (knee), offensive guard Jamey Richard (shoulder), tight end Jacob Tamme (ankle), offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (knee), kicker Adam Vinatieri (right hip) and wiude receiver Reggie Wayne (knee).
Don’t forget to eat your Wheaties, boys! Sunday’s game time.
The Week 16 battle between the Jets and the Colts has assumed a prominent place in the narrative about this weekend’s AFC Championship. The Colts passed on a perfect season, raising the ire of fans and media alike, while simultaneously ratcheting up the pressure to go all the way and hoist the Lombardi. On the Jets side of things, some have credited that game with getting Mark Sanchez out of his mid-season funk and finally figuring out his role in the Jets offense.
What’s often lost in all this is the game itself. The Colts didn’t pull their starters until midway through the 3rd quarter. So what happened when everybody was playing for both teams? A competitive game, reports Gang Green Nation:
The score was 15-10 when starters exited for Indianapolis. Let’s think that through. The difference was less than a touchdown. Also think about how the Jets’ defense hung with Indy’s offense. The Colts only scored 15 points in two and a half quarters. That’s pretty good against the best quarterback in football.
Consider something else. 6 of those 15 points were scored on a drive where the Jets made a fourth down stop. Bart Scott got a personal foul called on him to extend it. Take away that error, and the Jets held the Colts to 9 points in those three and a half quarters.
Sure, Peyton Manning and his offensive cohorts receive the lion’s share of the praise when discussing the Indianapolis Colts, and rightly so. But last week, it was the Colts defense that put on a show, holding the Ravens to a FG. The Colts have owned the Ravens recently, and the Colts defense has been especially tough on them. Stampede Blue reports:
The Colts have now gone 3 straight games against the Ravens without allowing a Touchdown. Pretty awesome. They’ve also gone 2 straight Playoff games against the Ravens without allowing a Touchdown.
That was the Ravens, does it matter this week? It could, since philosophically the Ravens and the Jets are very similar teams. Not necessarily schematically, but their strengths and weaknesses are similar.
Yds/game: Ravens 13th, Jets 20th
Pass yds/game: Ravens 18th, Jets 31st
Rush yds/game: Jets 1st, Ravens 5th
Yds/game: Jets 1st, Ravens 3rd
Pass yds/game: Jets 1st, Ravens 8th
Rush yds/game: Ravens 5th, Jets 8th
It's down to only two in the AFC. This one is for the right to play in Miami and grab a Super Bowl trophy.
The Indianapolis Colts had no problem dealing with a scrappy Baltimore Ravens squad last week, winning 20-3. The Colts defense came up big. Out in Cali, the New York Jets pulled off the one upset of the weekend when they knocked off the uber-hot San Diego Chargers. Now, they'll meet in Indy to settle the AFC score, and the score from the newsworthy Week 16 contest.
The Jets represent the underdog in the NFL's final four. But don't tell head coach Rex Ryan that, he's been telling us they should be a favorite since before the first playoff game kicked off. The supremely confident Jets are led by their league-best defense, and shutdown corner Darrelle Revis. Revis' ridiculous interception last week only underscored what we know, don't throw in his direction. But will Payton Manning be listening? There's no one with more confidence at QB than Manning, so we'll see if he challenges Revis, and what the results will be.
On the flip side, rookie QB Mark Sanchez has done exactly what he's supposed to do, drive the bus. He has one directive, don't make mistakes. The Jets' bus is loaded with a stalwart defense, a powerful offensive line, a pair of good backs; the rookie QB's job is to get that bus across the finish line without crashing it.
So far so good, reports Gang Green Nation.
...Sanchez was terrific against the Bengals. Against San Diego...he didn't do a ton. The important thing is he has looked comfortable and confident. He looked overwhelmed at times in the middle of the regular season. The Colts game seemed to be a turning point. Mark realized how good his defense and run game are. If he avoids making dumb decisions, the Jets have a great shot at winning. The Jets don't need him to do much, which makes his situation a lot easier than many rookies have.
The Colts made news back in Week 16 when they took a pass on a perfect season and pulled all their stars from a game. That game just happened to be against the Jets. If the Jets lose that game, they might not even be in the playoffs. So the Colts get a second-chance to kill the Jets' Super Bowl hopes, they get to kill a monster of their own making.
After much hub-bub about the Colts' decision back then, and whether they would be rusty after the bye and a long layoff for some players, the Colts looked in good form against Baltimore. The defense really turned it up and stifled the running game. But, winning the Divisional round wasn't really the goal, says Stampede Blue. Winning the Super Bowl was the goal when the Colts gave up on the perfect season.
You gave up and quit on a meaningful game back in December not because you simply wanted to beat the Ravens in the Divisional Round. You did it to win the Super Bowl, and anything short of that means the "quitting" strategy was a failure. By benching starters in the way it was done in a game fans, media, and players very much wanted to win, the excuse you gave afterward was that rest was more important for the long haul; the long haul obviously being the Super Bowl.
For a good statistical look at the Jets defense, follow this link.