I guess it’s somewhat fitting that we celebrate Muhammad Ali’s 69th birthday around the same time the Jets ran off at the mouth and away with one of the biggest victories in franchise history.
After all, for better or worse, Ali invented the art of trash talking with boastful, poetic lines such as “they all must fall in the round I call.” The Jets, led by their bombastic coach, Rex Ryan, clearly followed the brash former heavyweight champion’s lead this past week dissing their opponent, the New England Patriots, with enough verbal rubbish to fill a stadium.
Fortunately for Ryan – whom the world recently learned has a foot fetish – his cocky players didn’t put their feet in their mouths. For all the babble, it still comes down to actions being louder than words, and in the end the outspoken J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets! out-played and out-coached Tom Brady’s bunch.
Brady, who was sacked five times, had serious problems finding an open man, thanks to the Jets two-coats-of-paint coverage. Interestingly, Ryan dressed 11 defensive backs for the game, and used every last one of them to take the Patriots’ receivers out of the game. Time after time, Brady went through all four of his progressions to no avail. In addition to coverage sacks, the result was a lot of incompletions and a lot of inconsequential completions. Interestingly, two of the sacks were made by Shaun Ellis, the man the Jets drafted in 2000 with the pick they received from the Patriots when Bill Belichick vacated the Jets head coaching position after just a few days to take a similar job in New England.
Ryan clearly is a character – nothing wrong with that in a league where few coaches have any personality and can’t give you an answer without reviewing the game film. But, in addition to being a wind bag, the guy also is proving to be a damn good football coach. He is 24-13 coaching the Jets and 4-1 in the postseason.
The Pats, meanwhile, are 0-3 in their last three playoffs games – two of the losses coming at home – and have averaged just 16.3 points in that winless stretch.
Should the Jets defeat Pittsburgh and its starting QB Ben Roethlisberger this Sunday and go on to win the Super Bowl, they will have completed one of the most remarkable post-season romps in NFL history. Imagine beating Peyton Manning, Brady and Big Ben – three future Hall-of-Famers – in a row on the road. Not saying that’s going to happen, but if it did . . .
Neither Brett Favre nor Bart Starr ever had a playoff performance the statistical equal of Aaron Rodgers’ showing in Saturday’s trouncing of the Seattle Seahawks. The Green Bay Packers emerging legend completed 31-of-36 passes (86 percent) for 366 yards and three scores for a rating of 136.8. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago when the Cheese Heads wanted to run coach Mike McCarthy out of town for deciding to bid Favre adieu and move forward with Rodgers. Imagine where the Pack would be right now had Favre stayed put?
New England has gone seven years without a Super Bowl championship. The Steelers meanwhile are in their fifth conference championship game in the past 10 years. Brady will be 34 by the start of next season – if there is a next season – and is coming off an MVP year. Still plenty of good football left. But the Patriots really need to get him a deep threat and some help on defense in order to get back to the big game.
Pitt clearly has had SU's number, winning 12 of the last 15 meetings in the series. And without Kris Joseph, who suffered a head injury Saturday, it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Orange men to buck that trend tonight. But I do like the depth of this year’s club, and if James Southerland, C.J. Fair, Dion Waiters and Fab Melo can step it up a tad, a win in Pittsburgh is not out of the question.