Jets not lacking in enthusiasm after upsets
Jets wid receiver Santonio Holmes: "We're trying to get to the Super Bowl. I don't care about the Steelers right now."
Share with others:
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- First, the New York Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning on the road.
Next, they beat the New England Patriots and Tom Brady on the road.
To reach the Super Bowl for the first time since Broadway Joe Namath still had sideburns, they must beat the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger on the road.
Toughest road in NFL history?
"Well, I can say this: It's not easy," New York coach Rex Ryan said, his lips curling into a smile. "I don't know who's next. Terry Bradshaw? All I know is that those are a lot of Super Bowl rings in there, and those are three championship organizations. We have a lot of work to do."
It has been done, of course: The Steelers won three playoff games on the road before taking Super Bowl XL in Detroit, winning in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver. But, save for Manning and the Colts being in there, no one would confuse that trio of opponents with the three the Jets would have put down.
Which might beg a more compelling question in advance of the AFC championship Sunday at Heinz Field: Do the Jets have anything left in the tank?
And never mind physically -- they are mostly healthy -- but emotionally?
One might look to Ryan as the barometer. Before facing the Colts, he famously called the matchup "personal" between him and Manning, then spoke brazenly before the New England game about matching wits with coach Bill Belichick.
But, in two news conferences leading up to this game, including the latest Wednesday, nary a headline was to be found. He spoke again of his profound respect for the Steelers -- predicting that this would be "a triple-chinstrap game, a straight-ahead-no-fair-dodgin' game," as well as "a huge challenge" -- then praised the fans of Pittsburgh.
"They love their football," Ryan said. "They're a big part of why it's so tough for teams to win there, like a 12th man."
Again, all flowers, all the time.
The closest anyone came to raising an eyebrow was wide receiver Santonio Holmes, unceremoniously traded by the Steelers for a fifth-round draft pick this past offseason, and even his remark was hardly inflammatory.
"I think the personal game's out of the way," Holmes replied, referring to the Jets' 22-17 victory Dec. 19 at Heinz Field. "I had the chance to beat those guys the first time around. This time, it means everything. Everything for myself, for this team, for this organization.
"We're trying to get to the Super Bowl. I don't care about the Steelers right now. Those guys are in my team's way, and that's the New York Jets. We have one goal, and it's to beat those guys."
He then added, "If we win the Super Bowl, then that's personal. That's a snap back in those guys' faces."
So, are the Jets satisfied?
Is the lack of bombast or rancor for the Steelers a sign of complacency?
No, all concerned expressed unanimously, the Jets' motivation remains at the same level, if only because of the end game. And because it was a year ago that they lost the AFC championship game to the Colts.
"The Super Bowl is not for another three weeks, and we plan on being there," Ryan said. "To do that, it's going to take everything we have. You thought last week was emotional and all that? Just wait till this week. Both of these teams have had some huge wins against outstanding opponents, but we know what this one's all about."
"A letdown emotionally? I don't think that's even possible."
"Once you understand what going through a season is really like, how much work it takes, the dedication it takes just to make it to the AFC championship, then to have that feeling of losing," second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "This year, it feels like we have such a great opportunity. We wouldn't want to feel like that again."
"This is the AFC championship, man," defensive end Shaun Ellis said. "There's no complacency here, believe me. This team's ready to play."
"If anybody had an issue like that, they wouldn't be in this locker room," center Nick Mangold said. "Guys understand what's in front of us, and I wouldn't expect any letdown whatsoever."
NOTES -- Darrelle Revis, the Jets' brilliant cornerback out of Pitt and Aliquippa High School, mostly covered Hines Ward in the regular-season meeting, but he strongly hinted he might be used more flexibly Sunday, including possibly sharing time on Mike Wallace with fellow corner Antonio Cromartie. ... Linebacker Jason Taylor, another Western Pennsylvania product out of Woodland Hills High School, did not practice because of a slight concussion that knocked him out of the New England game, but Ryan described it as "obvious" Taylor would play Sunday. ... During the portion of the Jets' practice open to the media, running back LaDainian Tomlinson did extensive work on receiving. ... The Jets will practice here again today and Friday before leaving for Pittsburgh.
First Published January 20, 2011 12:00 am