By Peter Schwartz
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Another loss and maybe the legend of the “Same Old Jets” would have continued. But after back-to-back losses that sent them reeling, the Jets came up big with Sunday’s 22-17 win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
After seven failed trips to Pittsburgh coupled with four losses in Philadelphia, the Jets finally left the state of Pennsylvania with a victory.
Whether you believe head coach Rex Ryan when he said that he had no idea about the Sal Alos wall is one thing.
But when he says his team is resiliant, he’s being as honest as Abraham Lincoln because this team thrives on adversity. Given all that has happened to them in the last couple of weeks, coupled with all of the naysayers dancing on their grave and predicting doom and gloom, the Jets, for the time being, have saved their season.
Winning the AFC East appears to be out of the question, but the Jets have now moved a step closer to wrapping up a playoff spot.
Who gets the game-ball from yesterday’s thriller?
You could give it to Mark Sanchez who managed the game brilliantly and did not make any mistakes. He also tied the game at 17 in the third quarter with his seven-yard touchdown run on a fourth and one.
What about Jason Taylor who tackled Mewelde Moore in the end zone for a safety that stretched the Jets lead to five and forced the Steelers to go for a touchdown in the final seconds?
Speaking of that, Marquice Cole deserves some consideration for tipping away a Ben Roethlisberger pass to Matt Spaeth in the end zone on the game’s final play.
Braylon Edwards is a candidate as well with eight catches for a hundred yards and Brad Smith is right there with his 97-yard return for a touchdown on the game’s opening kickoff.
They are all worthy candidates but I’m giving the game-ball to Ryan who had his team ready to play after a week chock full of controversy. Although disappointed with how things played out over the last two weeks, Ryan never stopped believing in his team and had them believing that they could do what many, including myself, thought was the impossible.
They went into Heinz Field and came out victorious.
I should mention one negative thing about Ryan and the coaching staff. What in the name of Dick Curl where they thinking of not calling a timeout faster at the end of the first half when the Jets got the ball back after the Steelers kicked a field goal. After the first pass completion, a quick timeout would have given them a realistic shot at a few more plays and perhaps a field goal attempt.
One thing that Ryan clearly has to clean up is time management.
But now back to the story at hand.
Nothing seems to be impossible for this team. And with one more win or perhaps some other combination of fortune, they will get another chance to go on a run as road warriors in the playoffs.
They almost pulled it off last year. Anyone who doubts that they can do it again just isn’t paying attention.
SOJ? Let’s not go down that road just yet.
We can at least wait to see what happens Sunday in Chicago.
Some other game notes…
-With six-career rushing touchdowns, Mark Sanchez is now tied for fourth place among quarterbacks on the Jets all-time list.
-LaDainian Tomlinson moved past Marcus Allen and into sixth placed on the NFL’ all-time list in yards from scrimmage. He is now 505 yards behind fifth-place Barry Sanders.
-Tomlinson also became the third running back in NFL history to record at least 50 receptions in nine seasons.
-Bryan Thomas notched his fifth sack of the season, when he got to Ben Roethlisberger and brought him down for an eight-yard loss. It is the 21st sack of his career.
-Drew Coleman had two sacks and forced fumbles on both of them. He now has five career sacks and five career forced fumbles.
-When Brad Smith returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, it marked the first time the Jets have opened a game with a kickoff return for a touchdown since Leon Washington returned a kick 86 yards for a score against the Washington Redskins in 2007. It is the second kick returned for a touchdown by Smith this season and the third of his career. It was the 14th kickoff return for a touchdown by the Jets since Mike Westhoff joined the club in 2001, which leads the NFL.
-The Jets have now won eleven of their last thirteen games on the road.
That’s it for now. Check back later in the week for a preview of Sunday’s game in Chicago.