By Jason Klein
Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/18/11
Just End The Suffering.
The always-candid Head Coach of the New York Jets stood at the podium Sunday night in Foxborough, MA. His team had just knocked off the top-seeded New England Patriots 28-21, earning them a spot in the AFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season. Rex Ryan looked out at the throng of reporters before him and punctuated the evening with his usual bravado, giving positive meaning to a phrase once dripping with negativity.
“Same old Jets,” he said, “Back to the AFC Championship Game. The only difference is, this time we plan on winning.”
It’s rare in sports that a team gets a shot at a do-over, but that’s exactly what awaits Gang Green this Sunday in Pittsburgh. Just twelve months removed from their last shot at an AFC crown, the Jets defied the odds, backed up all the talk, and are once again just sixty minutes away from the Super Bowl.
It’s only the fourth time in their, at times, tortured past, that the Jets have advanced this deep into the playoffs. They have only won the Conference Championship once, the same season they won their only Super Bowl, in January 1969.
That year, the legendary Joe Namath guaranteed they would win the Super Bowl, Ryan has repeatedly predicted the same outcome for this year’s squad. Is there any reason to doubt him anymore?
In two seasons with the Jets, Ryan has transformed the culture within the organization and the mindset of its fan base. His confidence is contagious, his personality is infectious. He has delivered on every single thing he has promised to date, except one thing – a Super Bowl.
He can take another step towards cashing that check on Sunday at frosty Heinz Field. It’s something this team shouldn’t take lightly, despite their overwhelming confidence. Though it only took them one season to get back to the Title Game, there is no assurance they will ever return again. Plus, with labor unrest, and a potential work stoppage in 2011, now is the time for Ryan to end the misery and capture the team’s first Lombardi Trophy in 42 years.
In order to get to Dallas, home of Super Bowl XLV, the Jets will have to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh for the second time in a month. It’s a tall task, but it’s a game they must win. There are no moral victories for just getting back to the Title Game – not when your mission statement is a Super Bowl victory or bust.
Make no mistake about it, defeating the Patriots on Sunday was a great accomplishment, but there is no relief for Jets fans. That won’t come until Mark Sanchez is picking green and white confetti out of his curly mane.
Back in August, during the first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks, Ryan announced their goal in 2010 was to win the Super Bowl. He then famously bellowed, “I want to lead the league in wins.” Two more victories would accomplish both goals, a Title and a 15-5 overall record – good for most wins in the NFL this year.
Before then, the Same Old Jets are headed back to the AFC Championship Game. The only difference is, this time they plan on winning.
It’s been 42 years in the making. Get it done.
Just End The Suffering.
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