The second-biggest game in franchise history? Rex Ryan admitted today that he actually didn’t mean to say that about the Jets’ 28-21 conquest of the Patriots on Sunday.
“I think that’s what I was trying to get at. I left a word out — ‘win.,’ ” Ryan said at his news conference back at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this afternoon. “I always said I wasn’t born with a silver tongue. I don’t articulate things very well. I was hoping somebody picked up on that.”
So what the second-year head coach meant to say was that if the Jets beat the Patriots, it would have been the second-biggest win in franchise history. In other words, instead of the second-biggest game ahead in the affirmative sense, it would be the second-biggest victory in the conditional sense.
Never mind. Things worked out quite well and the triumph over the Patriots indeed moves right up there into the pantheon of Jets triumphs, somewhere close behind Super Bowl III.
Another thing that victory in the AFC Divisional Round did was to separate the Jets from the crowd in terms of a lesser known NFL postseason record.
The Jets have become the first team in league history to win four road playoff games in consecutive seasons.
With the successes at Cincinnati and San Diego last season and Indianapolis and New England this year, the Green & White can lay claim to being pro football’s ultimate road warriors — and can put daylight between themselves and all other road contenders with one more away win on Sunday at Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.
How many of the six other teams with three road playoff wins in back-to-back seasons can you name. I’ll plug in the answer below.
Make that five other teams because one of the six was Ryan’s 2008 Ravens, making him the master of the NFL road as a winning head coach or coordinator for six road playoff games in the past three years
“You definitely would prefer to take a different route. I would’ve loved for teams to come into our place, our brand new stadium, with our fans behind them,” Ryan said. “I’ll be honest. I wasn’t wanting Indy to be in there. ‘Oh, great, now we’ve got to go play at Indy. OK, we’ll go face ‘em and see what happens.’ Then Tom Brady at New England, then Ben Roethlisberger at Pittsburgh. I don’t know how many Super Bowls they’ve got, but they’ve got a bunch of ‘em.”
And now the home teams have to have the same worries about Rex, Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Bart Scott, Shaun Ellis, et al., coming to visit them.
“I think we’ve learned a great deal from being in the playoffs last year and traveling on the road for three games. That helps us, gives our guys confidence. I don’t know if it tightens your focus more,” he said. “We want to be AFC champions to start with. That’s the thing we want to start with this week. It’d be a great step for us. Then we’ll worry about the next week after we get there. But there’s a long road to go before we get there.”
And no better team in NFL history, according to the record just set, to attempt to traverse that road all the way to Dallas in three weeks.
Rex and Bill
No doubt some think Ryan is somehow being cagey or sarcastic when he praises Bill Belichick, but that’s not the case. Ryan was asked again today about winning that personal battle that he set out for himself against the Patriots head coach (and, dare we forget, former Jets head coach for a day in 2000).
“I never outcoached Belichick — there’s no way,” he said. “I’m just saying that: Our players outplayed their players. That’s really what it came down to. There was nothing schematically that I did to win that game. Our guys were prepared to play and that’s my job and all that. But to say I outcoached Belichick, I would not agree with that. That’s almost a joke.”
And who will Ryan make it personal with this week as the Steelers preparations begin? He also clearly expressed his admiration for Pittsburgh boss Mike Tomlin.
“I’ve got a great deal of respect for Mike. He’s one of my favorite coaches,” Ryan said. “Give me somebody to call out. I guess it’s Hines Ward and Casey Hampton.”
Rex was joking, we think.
Those Other Road Warriors
The 1978-79 Houston Oilers were the first NFL team to win three playoff games (not counting the Super Bowl) in two consecutive seasons. They were followed by the 1985 Patriots, the 2000-01 Ravens (Rex was also on that staff), the ’05 Steelers, the ’07 Giants and the ’08-09 Ravens before the Jets passed them all up the past two seasons.
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, New England Patriots, Peyton Manning, PIttsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
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