The emotional investment in the New York Jets football team is at an all-time high. The team has been down this road before. They have stumbled in past AFC Championships, suffered without a Super Bowl championship for 42 years, and lived in the shadows of the Giants for far too long. This current group of Jets have completely bought in the brash, aggressive style of their head coach. They have talked to talk all season long. They have belittled opposing players, coaches, and front office executives. They have claimed that they are the best team in football. The self-proclaimed best team in football should have no issues advancing to Dallas, right?
Last season, the Jets were heavy underdogs as they entered the AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts, who essentially gave up on a chance at a perfect season, were the odds-on favorite to reach the Super Bowl. In the minds of the Jet players and their fans alike, they were lucky to even make the playoffs. The Colts and Bengals rolled over to them in Weeks 16 and 17 in order to give the Jets a ticket to playoffs. The Jets relied on an erratic rookie quarterback who was only completing 55% of his passes. The team relied on its heavy ground attack to carry it through the first two rounds. Essentially, the Jets were playing with house money when they went in to take on the Colts. Even though they lost to Peyton Manning, it gave the rather inexperienced Jets their first taste at the spotlight.
This Steeler team is much different from the Colts. They have had dealt with injuries and off-the-field distraction all season long. Their offensive line is a tattered mess. Their defense is one of the best in the game, but they are far from the Steel Curtain of old. Ben is still Ben and #43 will be active all over the field, but this Steeler team is not the same level as the Colt team from last year. The Jets have another year of playoff experience under their belt and are facing a lesser opponent. While the Jets are three-point underdogs, there are no excuses.
No excuses. The Jets finished the regular season with an 11-5 record. The quarterback has had another year of seasoning and has won four road playoffs games. The team is battle tested. They have one of the best defensive players in football. They added hungry, Super Bowl starved veteran players needed to push the team over the final hump. The Jets have talked the talk for far too long not to deliver tonight.
When the whistle blows tonight at 6:30PM, there are no more excuses. The Jets MUST win in Pittsburgh or else this season will once again, be for naught.