By Peter Schwartz
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“I believe we will get it turned this week”
— Jets head coach Rex Ryan, Oct. 9, 2012
What may have looked like a slam dunk victory when the schedule came out is no sure thing anymore. The 2-3 Jets will be facing a Colts team on Sunday that is sky-high. Indianapolis rallied past Green Bay in their first game since head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and sidelined for the rest of the season.
“It’s really an energized group after a big win last week against Green Bay,” said Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. “So, judging by that last game, they’re excited. They’re ready to go on the road again and come in here and bring their best. They’re rallying around their coach, who’s sick right now. That’s obviously their battle cry.
“We can totally understand that and how that compels a team to play really well. Not only are you playing harder, faster and stronger, but smarter. We’re obviously going to get their best shot and it’s our job to be ready for the challenge and play well.”
Sanchez could very well welcome back two of his most important targets on Sunday. Wide receiver Stephen Hill has been out since aggravating a hamstring injury during the Jets’ Week 3 victory over the Dolphins in Miami. while tight end Dustin Keller has been out since suffering a hamstring injury in the season opener against the Bills.
Ryan is hopeful that both players will return on Sunday.
Keller believes that he will be on the field.
“Yeah I do,” said Keller. “It’s been way too long. I’ve had way too many setbacks. I was super smart today. I got some good reps today and came out healthy. I think I’ll be good to go, I’m pretty positive.”
Jets fans will get a firsthand look at the No. 1 overall pick in the draft as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck visits MetLife Stadium. He has guided the Colts to a 2-2 start and has thrown seven touchdown passes to go along with a touchdown run.
Luck is a guy that likes to move around and make things happen.
“He’s surprising me a little bit with his escapability,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. “I think with that, obviously, we know he’s a good athlete, just look at the (combine) times and everything else, but he steps in. He can shake guys like big Ben (Roethlisberger) does a little bit. He can extend plays and that’s something we have to do a great job of, understanding that, and plastering down the field that he may get outside or break contain. We have to do a good job.”
The Jets offense will have to do a good job against an Indy defense that can make some big plays. While Dwight Freeney commands a lot of attention, the Jets will have to be concerned with some other players including nose tackle Antonio Johnson.
“They’re flying around,” said center Nick Mangold. “They’re making plays and I really like the guy they have inside, No. 99 (Antonio Johnson), he’s playing pretty well, so it’s going to be a challenge for us. You obviously have to account for the two bookends there, they play great defense. It’s going to be a tough challenge and it’s going to be another 60-minute fight for us.”
A 60-minute fight that the Jets hope will gain them a split decision on the season. If the Jets don’t get to 3-3, it’s going to be hard to stay in the race for a playoff spot.
Playoffs? Did I just say playoffs? Playoffs?
Sorry, couldn’t resist!
JETS/COLTS ALL-TIME SERIES
This will be the 37th regular season meeting between the Jets and the Baltimore-Indianapolis Colts. The Colts lead the series 40-26. In postseason play, the Jets hold a 3-1 edge including a 17-16 win in the AFC wild card game on Jan. 8. 2011.
Oh yeah… there was that game on Jan. 12, 1969, in Miami when the Jets won 16-7.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
The Colts are coming off of an emotional victory as they rallied from 21-3 down at halftime to beat the Packers 30-27. It was the first game that the Colts played after Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia — and they couldn’t have done a better job honoring him.
“Yeah, obviously it was a big game with what Coach Pagano was going through,” said quarterback Andrew Luck.” I’m very happy and glad to get a win.”
With Pagano to miss the rest of the season, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is serving as interim head coach. His challenge this week is having his team prepared to go on the road after such an emotional win.
“I think they’re very focused,” said Arians. “I think they’re proud of an accomplishment, but they know that one accomplishment doesn’t get it done. That was a huge one, but it was more about getting Chuck (Pagano) the game ball than a football game. They got that done, now they have to go win football games.”
Pagano is still very much a part of the Colts. After each practice, video is streamed to Pagano’s iPad in the hospital. Text messages are also exchanged back and forth with Pagano but the team is careful not to put too much stress on him.
“I think we have to watch how much we go after him because of his strength right now is critical,” said Arians. “He’s watching every practice, he’s got his iPad streaming and if he sees something, he’ll text me. Mostly by text, that’s the easiest way, and if it’s a big thing, we’ll call each other when he feels good enough to talk.”
The Colts will face a Jets defense that is struggling against the run but is ranked 6th in the NFL against the pass. The Jets have also been able to take the ball away here and there, so that is a concern for a rookie quarterback.
“Obviously, their record maybe isn’t indicative of how well they’re playing defensively,” said Luck. “I think they do a great job creating turnovers. It’s a tough scheme to wrap your head around with Coach Ryan and his history. It’ll be tough sledding.”
Luck is hoping to have the same success against the Jets as a rookie that his predecessor Peyton Manning had against Gang Green back in 1998. Manning threw three touchdown passes against the Jets that year in a 24-23 win over Gang Green at the Hoosier Dome.
Who was the last Jets quarterback to throw for 300 yards against the Colts?
Answer at the end of this blog!
Sunday’s game can be seen on CBS-2 HD with the network’s top announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
Jeremy Kerley is ranked fifth in the NFL with an average of 19.4 yards per catch.
Antonio Cromartie loves to play against the Colts. In five career games vs. Indianapolis, Cro has notched four interceptions, 22 tackles, six passes defensed and a forced fumble.
MetLife Stadium will be the seventh venue to host a Jets-Colts game. The Jets were 6-8 against the Colts at Shea Stadium, 7-13 at Giants Stadium, 6-7 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, 7-12 at Hoosier-RCA Dome, 1-0 at the Orange Bowl (Super Bowl III) and they are 2-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
ALR AWARENESS DAY
On Sunday, the Alliance For Lupus Research and the Atlantic Health Jets Women’s Organization will host ALR Lupus Awareness Day at MetLife Stadium when the Jets face the Colts. This event is designed to increase awareness of lupus, a devastating autoimmune disease, promote the ALR’s mission to prevent, treat and cure lupus through medical research and, most importantly, raise funds for lupus research. AHJWO members, along with ALR staff and volunteers will distribute ALR branded reusable shopping bags and collect donations from fans entering the stadium gates. In addition, the ALR and Jets are encouraging fans to text LUPUS to 85944 to donate $10 to support lupus research.
My record this season: 4-1
I think the Jets took a big step in the right direction on Monday night. They still made their share of mistakes, but they hung in there against a very good Houston Texans squad.
My gut feeling is that there will be some carryover this week and the Jets will correct some of their mistakes. A third straight loss could very well lead to the season spiraling out of control.
It won’t happen.
JETS 27, COLTS 20
Trivia Answer: Frank Reich threw for 352 yards against the Colts on Nov. 17, 1996.
That’s all for now! Check back Monday for a recap.
What’s your prediction for Jets-Colts? Be heard in the comments below!