Rex Ryan and the Jets were left for dead after a loss to the Falcons three weeks before the end of the regular season. Now, they are one game away from the Super Bowl.
Sunday in San Diego the Jets overcame a 7-0 halftime deficit, used a ton of Charger mistakes, and in the end put up 17 second half points to pull off the only real stunner of the weekend, beating San Diego 17-14 to move on to the AFC Championship game.
The win for New York sets up a matchup with the 15-2 Colts, who dispatched the Ravens 20-3 Saturday night at home. Indianapolis lost to the Jets in week 16, but it was a game that will more be remembered for the Colts having their starters pulled and ending their perfect season with the game still very much winnable.
For the Jets, they did it like they have done it all season when they have won. They ran the ball, they played solid defense, didn’t allow any big plays, and rookie QB Mark Sanchez didn’t make any critical mistakes to put the game at risk. The Chargers were held to 4-for-13 on third downs, and kicker Nate Keading missed three field goals, sealing their fate.
Sanchez was just 12-for-23 for 100 yards and a TD, and he did throw a pick, but the defense and running game did enough to save him and help out in the huge win. Shonn Greene put the Jets up 17-7 with a 53-yard score with 7:17 left, and then after the Chargers scored to close the game to 17-14, Greene and Thomas Jones put the game away with four runs that gave the Jets a first down to run out the clock.
The Jets run defense did the job as well, stopping the Chargers cold all day, holding them to just 61 yards. Darren Sproles had just 33 yards on 3 carries, and LaDainian Tomlinson, playing in what could be his last game as a Charger, had just 24 yards on 12 carries.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers was harassed by the Jets D, and was held to 27-for-40 for 298 yards with a touchdown and two picks. He also was sacked twice but had a lot of pressure throughout the game, and even was flushed from the pocket a number of times and had to hurry throws.
The Jets are truly a Cinderella team, but the big question now is will they have enough time before midnight to pull off two more wins and give rookie coach Rex Ryan and rookie QB Mark Sanchez a Super Bowl ring in their first years on the job.