By Jason Keidel
» More Columns
The Jets did an impossible deed yesterday. They finished a game they should have won, should have lost, and should have tied. The Jets, just a little more used to victory than the Browns, needed 75 minutes to win a 60 minute contest. No doubt they will take it and run, realizing that while they won an ugly game there are no ugly wins.
Such is the agonizing affair Jets fans have with their beloved club. I received countless texts from cringing fans, begging me to update them on the game as they had one eye on the tube, one finger on the remote, and one foot in the kitchen.
Speaking of kitchens, diet was a pre-game theme last week. Rex Ryan did a symbolic belly bump with his twin brother Rob before the media – trading quips, wearing wigs, and revealing culinary habits (which no sane man would mimic). Humor and hubris are the luxuries of success in New York.
Rex Ryan is a cardiac case whose team gave their fans ample palpitations yesterday. The last time the Jets went that deep into overtime in Cleveland was 1987, the infamous “Gastineau Game” – another emblem of the forty-year, sadomasochistic pact the team has with our town. This time the Jets, by action or accident, averted another eerie quake on Lake Erie.
Cleveland, infinitely more forlorn now that LeBron “King” James surrendered his crown to bury his head in the South Beach sand, is a sad place on a good day. You’d be soulless not to feel sorry for a squad last branded a champion when they were led by Jim Brown and coached by Blanton Collier.
Fans embrace the Jets’ coach for his bluster, his candor, his plus-size personality and, ultimately, for wins. Ryan’s method is antithetical to the monotone of Tom Coughlin, whose vanilla mantras are more befitting the financial pages than the sports section. Sports are ultimately entertainment, and the Jets are always dramatic.
The stat sheet says Santonio Holmes scored the winning touchdown. But it was Mark Sanchez, his fleet feet doing Gene Kelly justice, who willed them to victory. On one leg, Sanchez hobbled and hurdled the Browns’ pass rush, channeling his inner Tarkenton while tossing the ball to his Super Bowl MVP, allowing Holmes to do what Holmes does.
The Jets fleeced the Steelers for Holmes, giving Pittsburgh little more than a MetroCard and a Terrible Towel for the standout wideout. Holmes is in his prime and primed to make the Steelers pay for jilting him. He could be the difference between the teams, who play in Pittsburgh on December 19, a game loaded with playoff implications
You can look at the Jets two ways. They are a team whose hides are hardened by close games and thin wins, or a team without the will to finish opponents when they’re ready to fold.
But perhaps the current version of Gang Green is more mettle than mental. They clearly have a quarterback who can ache and not break. Last night’s stinker in the swamp notwithstanding (the Giants were so bad last night that the gridiron gods literally turned out the lights at the place with no name in Northern New Jersey), New York is the place to be for football fans these days – even if the teams practice and play in New Jersey.
Meanwhile, the Jets strut through the season and the city in stark contrast to their Big Blue brethren, who, like the Yankees, win with corporate boredom. The Jets may not even be the best team in their building, but they own the town’s heart for the moment, for each moment they finish a nose in front of their foes.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
- Holmes’ TD In OT Sends Jets Past Browns 26-20 (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Keidel: Fang Green (newyork.cbslocal.com)