YES, JETS' WIN OVER PATS CAN BE ERASEDBy Robin Lundberg
I'm not sure any coach has ever made his Super Bowl aspirations as vocal as New York Jets coach Rex Ryan has. He set his standards at his introductory news conference, predicting he would be shaking the President's hand before too long.
Somehow, with back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship Game, he's been able to make those expectations realistic.
It was always assumed that the New England Patriots would be a major obstacle to the ultimate prize. They are in the Jets' division and Ryan boldly proclaimed (in his usual manner) that he had no desire to kiss Bill Belichick's rings. Yet last year the Jets were able to get one game from the Super Bowl without going through Foxborough.
This year it looked different. The Patriots were 14-2. They had already embarrassed the Jets on national television. Jets fans knew Belichick and Tom Brady stood in their path. They entered the game as major underdogs and it seemed Brady hadn't thrown an interception since the word patriot applied to those who stood against taxation without representation.
That didn't stop them. They slayed the dragon. They backed up the tough talk. It feels like they are back where they belong. No longer the Same Old Jets. Instead, they're a team of destiny.
If the Jets lose to the Steelers, if the dream dies, what does the win over the Patriots really mean? Very little. Sure, it would give them bragging rights -- but this is not Duke-North Carolina. The Patriots will still have their titles to fall back on. The Jets will not.
A Super Bowl victory without a win over the Patriots would be special. A Super Bowl victory with a win over the Patriots along the way would be epic. A playoff victory over the Patriots without a Super Bowl is empty, like a great movie with a terrible ending.
It simply becomes a good win in a season of what could've been.
NO, JETS' WIN OVER PATS CAN'T BE ERASEDBy Jane McManus
If the New York Jets lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers, it will sting. It will cause a few sleepless nights as players head off to tropical vacations -- suites at resorts you can't afford on islands reachable only on a G6 -- and avoid reports from Dallas.
But what will remain, as indelible as the scars on surgically repaired shoulders, is the fact that the Jets reached two straight AFC title games. Oh, and the delicious win over the dreaded Patriots.
Jets coach Rex Ryan can take the high road since he won, saying that it wasn't really personal between himself and Bill Belichick, and he may be able to convince himself of that. But that's only because he won.
See, the fact that the Jets won that game on the frosty field of Gillette Stadium allows Ryan to change the way he approaches the rivalry in the future. Belichick is no longer Darth Vader, the Patriots are human once more.
So even if the Jets are cut down in their quest to win the Super Bowl, the win over the Patriots can't be erased. And every time the Jets play the Patriots in the future, they will think back on the day a game plan that included a pocketful of bone-rattling hits allowed them to get ahead, and that Belichick gets flustered when he plays from behind.
Fake punt, anyone?
It was like watching the Wizard of Oz step out from behind the curtain and he was, how to put this nicely, a lot less green and terrible than you remembered.
The Jets as a franchise may have a way to go if they want to even the series in terms of wins and losses, but the Jets of the Ryan era are doing all right in that regard. Goliath is about 6-foot-2, David is coming up on 6-foot even, and that's a pretty fair fight.
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