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Jets Must Guard Against Letdown

The emotional opener is over, now the Jets have to maintain the same level

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The bar's been kicked up and the Jets need to make sure they keep reaching it.

    Throughout the history of the Jets, they have made a habit of playing directly opposite of the expectations placed on them coming into the game or season. 

    That's never been more true than in the Rex Ryan era. They've lost to teams that no one takes seriously, beaten teams on the road in games they were written out of before kickoff and, of course, went nowhere after making bold claims about Super Bowl titles. 

    It's one week into the 2012 season and nothing seems to have changed in the least. The 48-28 win over the Bills was the most surprising result of Week One because it came after weeks of round-the-clock chatter about how dreadful the Jets were going to be this season. 

    The nice thing about being predicted to be awful is that it makes for awfully good fodder for motivational speeches. Ryan definitely gave his team a good one before Sunday's game because they came out frothing at the mouth and made an emphatic statement about waiting for the slightest bit of evidence before drawing conclusions. 

    We know that the Jets were thinking about that because Bart Scott made it explicit after the game when he launched an expletive-laced tirade declaring a "media mutiny" because of the way the team was portrayed heading into the first game of the season. Vindication is powerful stuff, but it has a short shelf life. 

    The question now is for the Jets is how they keep things at the fevered level from last Sunday now that they have settled their scores with the preseason coverage. You might now be saying to yourself that they haven't settled anything one week into a 16-game season. 

    You're right, but the issue is that the Jets seem to think that they've knocked down the scarecrow that's been haunting them for months. It's another trend of the Ryan era to wildly overreact to victories that don't mean a thing and treat them as if they should come with a Medal of Honor and a free house on the beach. 

    As glorious as the Bills win was, it will mean nothing if the Steelers push the Jets around in Pittsburgh this weekend. The volumes of praise that Mark Sanchez has received in the last few days won't be visible under tons of negative views of his abilities. 

    Basically, the Jets have to find some other pressure point to attack in order to make sure that their play remains at the same level or they'll wind up right back where they started. Nothing's been won yet and there will be no shortage of people informing them of such should they lose in Pittsburgh. 

    Should that happen, there's an upside. They'll be able to use that criticism as a motivating tool for the third week and start the whole cycle all over again.

    That's life with the New York Jets.  

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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