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This will be the last post reveling in Sunday's improbable, magical and thoroughly enjoyable 28-21 Jets victory over the Patriots.
The Jets haven't won anything yet, after all, and there's a mighty big mountain called the Steelers looming on the horizon. It's just about time to start thinking about how the Jets can pull off a third straight road win over a Super Bowl champion quarterback. Before we do, though, let's just take one more chance to applaud what Rex Ryan has pulled off in his two years with the team.
Ryan has the Jets in the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year and the second time in his two years as coach. In the previous 49 years of their existence, the Jets had made it to that game exactly three times. In those 49 years the Jets were mostly a joke, outside of the occasional year when they found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory by doing something boneheaded.
Those would be the Same Old Jets, they are clearly not the Ryan Jets. The game that Ryan won yesterday is a game that the Jets have never, ever won in the history of the franchise. Not once. We don't know what will happen on Sunday night nor do we know what's going to happen over the rest of his career. We do know that by beating the Pats, on the back of three other playoff wins, he has already changed the entire culture of the Jets and that change feels permanent regardless of what should happen against the Steelers.
Ryan deserves a chance to take a bow for that, but he passed up on the chance while talking about the Patriots game Monday. He refused to agree with anyone suggesting that he outcoached Bill Belichick on Sunday. For a guy accused of being an arrogant donkey, that's awfully humble since it is as obviously true as this morning's sunrise. He dominated Belichick, but spent his meeting with the media lavishing praise on his players and on general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
Good for him, because they were all so deserving. Shaun Ellis was unblockable during the game of his life. Darrelle Revis was Darrelle Revis. Eric Smith (ERIC SMITH!) made a ton of plays. Mark Sanchez, Braylon Edwards, LaDainian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes all showed why Tannenbaum went out on a limb to bring him to town. But make no mistake, Ryan owned Belichick Sunday.
Belichick, for his part, threw Patrick Chung under the bus for the failed fake punt at the end of the first half and refused to accept any blame for his role in calling it. Throw in the showoffy non-benching of Wes Welker, which impressed Jim Nantz but not anyone who realizes the lack of integrity inherent in "benching" a guy while sending him out for the first punt return of the game, and Belichick's typically unsportsmanlike ability to give credit to those who beat him and you've got a pretty stark contrast to Ryan.
You've got the same contrast when it comes to Belichick's rings, of course. That brings us back to where we started because, no matter how good Sunday felt, the Jets haven't won anything tangible yet. They have won something meaningful, however, and Ryan deserves all the credit in the world for that achievement.