This week we’re bringing you a trio of voices from the Jets’ championship past, three players who played in the three AFL/AFC title games in franchise history. Today, Marty Lyons, a member of the New York Sack Exchange who’s now the team’s radio analyst, reflects on the 1982 Jets, who won road playoff games at Cincinnati and Los Angeles (vs. the Raiders) before coming to a halt at Miami, just short of Super Bowl XVII.
Nineteen eighty-two was a strike year. The season was shortened, we made it into the playoffs and of course we had to go on the road. We played the Bengals and won, we played the Raiders and won, and then we went down to Miami. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good outing down there. A lot of it had to do with turnovers. We had five turnovers and lost, 14-0.
Everybody called it the Mud Bowl, said that Don Shula left the tarp off the field. To me, they played on the same field we did. The biggest difference in the game was the mud took away some of our offensive speed. We were a running team with Freeman McNeil and everyone else we had in the backfield. But the bottom line is when you have five interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, it is very difficult to overcome that.
What I remember is the empty feeling at the end of the game, sitting on the turf and then in the locker room. You work your whole life to get to "the game," and in the NFL that’s the Super Bowl. We came within 60 minutes. Everybody said, "Don’t worry, we’ll get ‘em next year." Then the team was dismantled, I retired after the ’90 season and the opportunity never came. These opportunities are few and far between for some players.
Now these Jets have a chance to get to the Super Bowl. Without a doubt, the Indianapolis Colts are going to be a great challenge for them. They’ll be playing against Peyton Manning, the best quarterback to ever play that position in the NFL, a four-time MVP. He knows the game, and it’s going to come at them at a very quick pace. I think there’s more pressure on the Colts than on the Jets in this game, but if there’s anybody who can handle this pressure, it’s Peyton.
He ‘s one of those quarterbacks who can quickly change the game. Last Saturday at the end of the second quarter against Baltimore was a perfect example. Most teams with no timeouts would’ve probably kicked a field goal. Coach Jim Caldwell had the confidence in Peyton to say "I’m going to give you one more play to get it in the end zone." And he does. That changed the whole momentum of the game right there before halftime.
When the Jets win on Sunday — and I’m expecting them to win — they’re going to have to earn it. It’s going to be hard. They’re going to have to control the line of scrimmage, run the ball, go to some play action, and they have to be ready for Peyton.
But this Jets team is a good blend for the young players. Look at what Rex Ryan did, putting out that itinerary: "We’re going to play at Cincinnati in the first round and win, we’re going to go on the road in the second round and win." I think he wanted his players to visualize. A lot of players have never experienced this before. If you paint them the picture, it’s easy for them to understand the story. If you tell them the story and there’s no pictures, sometimes it’s harder.
I think Rex did it with a great deal of respect for the organization and his players. And I’m happy to be a small part of it as a member of the Jets’ radio team.
Tags: AFC Championship Game, Indianapolis Colts, Marty Lyons, Miami Dolphins, Peyton Manning, Rex Ryan
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