The New York Jets have already made history in advancing to the AFC Championship. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time in NFL history a team has won multiple road games in consecutive postseasons; and it’s the first time in team history the Jets have made back-to-back AFC Championships.
Now, if they’re going to go any further, they’ll have to make history, and break their postseason trends.
Since 1990, when the NFL adopted the current playoff format, the Jets would be only the second team to defeat the top three seeds in the conference to advance to the Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers did so in 2005, and went on to beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.
But it’s not just any teams that the Jets would be going through if a Super Bowl trip is in the works. The Jets will have gone through three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
Those three quarterbacks have combined to go 32-17 in the postseason, with six Super Bowl rings between them.
It’s no formality to go through Pittsburgh, however, one of the few teams in the NFL with a better defense statistically than the Jets.
Jets and Steelers in Playoffs
Since AFL-NFL Merger in 1970
In the regular season, the Jets ranked third in yards allowed, sixth in points allowed and tied for eighth in sacks. The Steelers led the league in points allowed and sacks, and were second in yards allowed, only five yards per game behind the San Diego Chargers.
Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the Jets have been to the postseason a dozen times, going 10-11, including 0-3 in the AFC Championship Game.
The Steelers, on the other hand, are making their 25th postseason appearance in that time, and have gone 32-18. This will be their 15th AFC Championship appearance, and while they’re just 7-7 in those games, when they advance to the Super Bowl, they’re 6-1.
Jets in AFC Championship, Since 1970
It’s not just that the Jets have gone 0-3 in AFC Championships since their Super Bowl III win, it’s how they’ve lost those games. In all three of those games, the Jets have either led or been tied heading into halftime, only to see their opponents celebrating a trip to the big game in the end.
Now the Jets will have to try to reverse that trend while playing their 10th consecutive road playoff game, but they do have a quarterback, Mark Sanchez, that has already tied the NFL record for road playoff wins with four, tying the mark of Len Dawson, Jake Delhomme, Joe Flacco, and Roger Staubach.
They’ll have to make history to do it, but this is a Jets team that’s already made history.