Hard to believe, right? The J-E-T-S are headed to the AFC championship game after a 17-14 upset of the Chargers.
Actually it’s not hard to believe. This isn’t to say anyone had this thing right. Very few people outside of the Jets organization thought they had a chance. But when re-evaluating things, it’s not that difficult to believe.
First: The Chargers were 31st in the league in rushing. They averaged 88 yards per game. That hurt, because the Jets were able to blitz the heck out of the Chargers. It doesn’t matter how many weapons you have, facing a vicious blitz almost everytime you drop back is not easy.
And Rivers ended up tossing two interceptions. The second one ended up costing them the game.
Second: The Jets have become a grind it out team on offense. They ran the ball early and stuck with it the entire game. Even after a terrible first quarter and first half in which they produced just 99 total yards, the Jets kept running and running and running. It worked in the end as Shonn Greene sealed the win with a 53-yard touchdown that gave the Jets a 17-7 lead.
Third: The Norv Turner factor. The Chargers’ head man in charge has always had trouble winning the big one. They couldn’t two years ago after a 14-2 regular season and they couldn’t last season after barely squeaking into the playoffs.
Opting for an onside kick with his team trailing 17-14 and 2:14 left on the clock? That decision alone will put a tremendous amount of heat on him in the off season. Had the Chargers kicked it deep, the Jets would’ve probably ran it three straight times and punted, which would’ve given the Chargers the ball with at least a minute left on the clock. Terrible coaching.
Not too pick on Norv, but how about the misusage of Darren Sproles. Sproles had a total of six touches, three rushes, three catches. Everytime Sproles touched the ball he did damage. But hey, this is about what the Jets did, not what the Chargers didn’t do.
The Jets earned everything they got this year. Did the Colts do them a favor by pulling their starters a few weeks ago? Of course. But the Jets still had to play and win that game. Did the Jets also get a bit of a break in the Cincinnati game the last night of the regular season? A little. But the Jets proved that win wasn’t a fluke, because they knocked off the Bengals the very next week in the first round of the playoffs.
So what should we expect against the Colts? Not what you saw against the Chargers. The Colts are well-coached team that won’t make the coaching mistakes the Chargers did. That doesn’t mean the Jets can’t win. But it does means the Jets will have to step it up.