The Jets briefly celebrated their win over the Patriots Sunday in the visitors’ locker room at Gillette Stadium, but they have only reached the halfway point on their playoff journey.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Bart Scott. “I’m so happy for my coach and this city that has endured so much. We still have a lot more to go. The mission isn’t complete, but right now we’re going to enjoy this one until Tuesday.”
Even though the team plane was decorated with green and white balloons, there was no victory party Sunday night. When Jets owner Woody Johnson was asked about Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez’s 3-2 mark against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, he preferred to look ahead.
“We’re going to be focused on the Steelers this week and not on records. The only records that are important to Rex and the people in the room right now are going all the way and trying to accomplish the objective that we’ve set out to do and we haven’t done in quite a few decades,” said Mr. J. only moments after accepting a congratulatory handshake from Patriots owner Robert Kraft. “It’s to win that Super Bowl. That’s what we’re here for, that’s our job and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
The “Madbacker” was fired up Sunday evening, feeling that the man he followed to New York had been disrespected in the days leading up to the AFC Divisional Round clash at Gillette Stadium.
“They made it personal for me by attacking my coach. He takes a lot of flak for believing in his team and taking the pressure off his team,” he said. “I’ll go to war with a coach that is willing to put himself on the front line instead of dictating from a tower and letting his troops go into battle. He’s in there going to battle with us like so many other great leaders. You think about Hannibal, Genghis Khan. Now you can add Rex Ryan to that.”
For the second time in as many years, the Jets have advanced to the conference final. They were ready to lace them up Saturday night after alum Dennis Byrd stood before the club at their team meeting.
“A lot of people gave us no shot. I’m like, ‘No shot?’ I’m sure Dennis Byrd heard that, too, when they told him he would never walk again,” said Scott. “It was very inspirational to see him in there as a walking testament, a modern-day miracle, I believe. I had a cousin that had that same type of injury. For Dennis to battle back and not feel sorry for himself and choose to come in on a Saturday evening 18 years after the incident happened, to choose to inspire us, is overwhelming.”
After the Jets built a 14-3 halftime advantage over the Patriots, Scott knew the job was hardly complete and he touched Byrd’s No. 90 jersey before returning to the action.
“Before I went out of the second half, I knew we still had a lot of work left to do and that team was going to make adjustments and play hard. I grabbed that jersey, I held that jersey, I squeezed that jersey and I kissed that jersey,” he said. “And I let that jersey inspire me to continue, to fight the fight the whole way through.”
The Jets manhandled Tom Brady, sacking him five times in his house and frustrating the future Hall of Famer with tremendous coverage. The Jets were heavy underdogs heading into the contest but most people overlooked Ryan’s point that they had a roster that had played in 196 playoff games since 2005 while the Pats had amassed just 101 over the same time.
“In reviewing the tape, we discovered that he wasn’t so invincible,” Scott said of Brady. “We realized in the playoffs, he’s had like a 66 quarterback rating since his last Super Bowl and realized, in the playoffs, he’s just as average as any other quarterback. And we believed that when we looked at our roster, we had more playoff experience than that roster had and yet we weren’t getting enough knowledge and credit for being in the moment and having been to the Dance before.”
While a road sweep of the Peyton Manning-led Colts and the Bill Belichick/Brady-led Pats is most impressive, the Green & White are just at the midway point. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers stand in the way of the Jets’ first Super Bowl appearance since Jan. 12, 1969, and New York’s AFC representative will be underdogs on the road for a sixth consecutive time in the playoffs.
And these road warriors, who were just 30 minutes from reaching the Super Bowl last year, have every intention of making travel plans for Dallas.
“We just continue to believe in ourselves, man,” Scott said.
Tags: Bart Scott, Dennis Byrd, New England Patriots, PIttsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
Posted in Eric Allen | 7 Comments »