Last Sunday, the Jets exorcised the demons of their humiliating Week 13 loss to New England, their divisional round playoff win at Foxboro finally burying the 45-3 loss on Monday night in early December.
The Jets followed up their statement game with their worst performance since the loss at New England.
One game removed from the second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, the Jets got out-manned and out-coached in the first half en route to a 24-19 loss last night in the AFC championship. The Jets are, to borrow from Dennis Green, exactly who we thought they were.
A team that struggled with consistency, struggled on offense and was suspect against physical play on defense showed all those weaknesses last night, despite shutting down the Steelers in the second half to make things interesting.
This was, after all, a Jets team that during the middle of their regular season needed its final offensive possession to beat Detroit, Cleveland and Houston in consecutive weeks — teams with a combined 31 losses this season.
It’s also a team that scored nine or fewer points in four of their five losses. The Jets, quite frankly, never deserved the talk that they were a team that was Dallas-bound.
And that may not be the worst thing in the world.
After all, the Jets are 52 games under .500 all-time and a running joke in the NFL. While this team deluded some of its diehards into thinking they would perhaps enjoy their first Super Bowl in more than a generation, it was all smoke and mirrors.
But that doesn’t take away from some very real accomplishments this season.
This version of the Jets saw a two-win improvement over the season past, giving this team just their fourth season in franchise history with 11 or more wins. And despite the falling just one game short of the Super Bowl back to back seasons, the Jets made consecutive AFC Championship Games for the first time in franchise history. Not to mention the fact that much of the teams core, franchise building centerpieces – Darrelle Revis, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold – are locked up to long term deals, meaning that this team isn’t going back to being the “Same Old Jets” anytime soon.
But last night at Heinz Field, none of that Pollyanna sunshine and happiness mattered much.
Since last January’s loss in Indianapolis to the Colts, this team was built and re-focused around immediate success. Signings such as Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor were brought in to fill immediate needs on both sides of the ball, correcting serious weaknesses exposed when the Jets were sent home from the playoffs.
But it didn’t work out as the Jets are still too far removed from being a truly elite team on a weekly basis. There is nothing super about this team and no reason why they should be facing Green Bay two weeks from now, a team the Jets lost to at home 9-0 in Week 8.
An uncertain offseason awaits this team, with several big names in the final years of their contracts and ready to walk. The Jets are built to win now and must win now, this year representing a bit of a rebuilding year in New England, a team which has dominated the division the better part of the past decade. This could have been the Jets year and quite frankly, it should have been.
Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom. A small window of opportunity may have closed on Sunday night at Heinz Field before a full-voiced and lusty 66,662 Steelers fans, but all is not lost. A team forever a joke in the NFL is having its last laugh, the franchise headed in the right direction after more than five decades of futility.
And the lambast from the ever-depressed and self deprecating Jets fan, that of “Same Old Jets,” can finally be buried. This team isn’t Super Bowl bound but for the first time in 42 years, Jets fans finally have a team. And there’s nothing “same old” about them.
“This is a new, ‘Same Old Jets,’” defensive end Trevor Pryce said. “It’s a difference breed of Jets.”