All this past week, head coach Rex Ryan made it clear that he wanted to win number 11 real bad, and his team went out and got it for him today, even though many of his regulars sat it out. The Jets (11-5) beat the Buffalo Bills 38-7 at New Meadowlands Stadium, and then they had a victory parade around the field to celebrate. Of course, beating the Bills (4-12 ) with replacements is not terrible but it is nothing to brag about either.
Hurting quarterback Mark Sanchez started and stayed on the field for one series of plays, but then he was gone and Mark Brunell took over and ended up tossing two touchdown passes, and even third string QB Kellen Clemens got in on the act and ran for a ten-yard touchdown. Rookie Joe McKnight carried the ball 32 times for 158 yards, and the defense handled the Bills despite Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie taking the day off.
As fate would enter the picture, the Jets were getting that eleventh win for Ryan while the Kansas City Chiefs were losing to the Oakland Raiders. This set up next week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, reminding everyone of last year’s Jets loss to Peyton Manning and company in the AFC Championship game.
Ryan was certainly not letting this rematch get to him as he made his comments after the game. He is still going with his usual “we’re the best team out there” routine, but he did qualify it by saying that now the team has to step up and prove it.
All week long people were debating whether or not Sanchez should play, but Ryan obviously took the most cautious path with his young QB. We can question whether or not Sanchez will be prepared for next week, but we know that the team is facing the always tough and prepared Peyton Manning. If they should somehow miraculously survive the Colts, then the next opponent would be Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. These impending match ups should temper the enthusiasm of even the most green-blooded Jets faithful.
Still, Ryan has talked the talk all year long, and his team has taken him into the playoffs for the second year in a row. Now the time for talking is over (but that’s not going to stop Ryan) and the team has to walk the walk. The biggest concern for this team is getting guys like Cromartie, Revis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene, and Sanchez back in good shape for the game. If they are still hurting and not up to their full playing ability, then it is likely Gang Green’s return to the playoffs will be brief.
Photo Credit: Robert Sabo/NY Daily News