By Jason Keidel
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The sun left the stadium, and took with it about 50,000 solemn fans who snaked through the building, scurried across the cavernous parking lot, and ducked into their cars.
It seemed reasonable at the time, with the Jets gagging a 16-point lead on their way to another home loss. Rex Ryan starred in a strange PR campaign last week, imploring his fans to excite his players, forgetting that the reverse is how it works.
Perhaps the fans needed to flee for the team to win, as it felt more like a road game when Mark Sanchez threw a perfect, arching spiral to Santonio Holmes, who cradled it in the corner of the end zone with ten seconds left for a stunning 30-27 win over the Houston Texans.
He has done this before. Holmes has. Beyond his ankle-breaking, defense-befuddling talent, he has an uncanny feel for the field, somehow always finding an inch between his toes and the chalk. And the bigger the platform, the better the player he becomes.
And thus when Rex Ryan looks under his Christmas tree he’ll know the Pittsburgh Steelers got him the grandest gift – Santonio Holmes. And Ryan also knows that the only cornerback with any chance of stopping Holmes plays for the Jets.
The Steelers are perhaps the model franchise in football and, with all due respect to Dallas, are far closer to being America’s team. Consistency and prudence are their trademarks, with just three head coaches since 1969. But you don’t trade a Super Bowl MVP in his prime for a first-round pick, much less a fifth-round pick, which is what they got from the Jets.
The Steelers, almost never given to haste, hastily jettisoned Holmes. They sent a message to their best player by trading their second-best player. Doesn’t work that way. Some are simply worth the headache, the crapshoot that his rap sheet won’t bulge before the playoffs.
Analysts try their Sunday best to dissect the game with telestrators, testosterone, and locker room lingo. But no one can compute the metaphysical, things like mojo, which this team seems to have in abundance, filling up the tank of intangibles with each game.
Many years ago, a few hundred yards away, The Giants and Joe Pisarcik lost a game they had won, and yesterday their roommates won game they had lost. Now they are 8-2, and haven’t been this good this late since 1986 – the year Mark Sanchez was born.
Bill Parcells famously said you are what your record says you are, which means the Jets have every right to claim the top of the NFL totem pole. They don’t do it easily. They can’t. It’s not their way. But they are smiling, knowing that while they play ugly games there are no ugly wins.
And there was Holmes, tilting his spread arms to simulate a soaring jet, sailing into the locker room, taking with him the freckling of followers who stayed to watch.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
- Jets Rally Again As Holmes’ TD Beats Texans 30-27 (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Keidel: No Mistake By The Lake (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- NFL Roundup: Jets Still On Top, NFC South Powers On (newyork.cbslocal.com)