The Colts are going to the Super Bowl. The Jets' season is over. Indianapolis defeated New York today in the AFC Championship Game by a 30-17 margin. The Colts scored the game's last 24 points, including 17 unanswered in the second half after the Jets jumped out to a 17-6 lead. No excuses. When the conference title was there for the taking, the Colts totally outplayed the Jets.
More after the jump.
Dwight Lowery: Pierre Garcon had 11 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. Austin Collie had 7 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Lowery was responsible for covering one of these two for much of the game.
Drew Coleman: See above. Coleman just isn't NFL corner material. This game was another example if Wes Welker's record setting game earlier in the year or his subpar play for four years wasn't evidence enough. The turning point of the game took place during Indy's last drive of the first half. The Jets led 17-6. The Colts were reeling. Manning looked frustrated and was yelling at officials. Manning hit Collie deep on a ball Coleman could have made a play on. The Colts scored a play later, and their confidence went up before the half. This game may have been different if the Jets were dominating and took an 11 point lead to the locker room.
Not Playing Lito Sheppard: Maybe Lito was injured. I can't figure out why he wasn't in the lineup if he wasn't. Rex never really offered much of an explanation for his benching. I know he played poorly in the first meeting. I know he got burned long on a play the first time he came in. Still, could he have been a much worse option than Dwight or Drew the way they were playing?
Lack of Adjustments on Defense: The Jets had the Colts totally confused for much of the first half with their blitzes. Then Peyton Manning got a beat on it and adjusted his blocking schemes. Once this happened, the Jets needed to adjust and start playing more coverage than blitzing. They kept attacking. I know it's the identity of the team, but when something's not working, it needs to change.
Thomas Jones: This defense is too fast to dance around and wait for holes to open like Thomas did. He only had 42 yards on 16 carries. You can't help but wonder how things would have been different if the Jets had Shonn Greene to beat on Indy's defense in the second half instead of TJ.
Jay Feely: Feely missed a pair of field goals. They weren't easy kicks at 44 and 52. Still, this is a title game against the best quarterback in the game. Jay showed he's not an elite kicker today. He's merely above average. I wouldn't necessarily be against bringing him back, but the Jets should at least take a look at potentially upgrading the position in the offseason.
Mark Sanchez: The rookie looked like a veteran today. He looked confident playing in a huge game today. Mark was 17 for 30 for 257 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception on a deflected ball that wasn't really his fault. He was buying himself extra time with his feet and made many accurate throws into tight situations on critical downs. I also kind of liked seeing how upset he was at the end of the game. I like the leader of this team is as devasted by a loss like this as we fans are. Hopefully this motivates him to come back with a huge second year. The future looks bright. No rookie has ever played such a great game on this stage. Shaun King, Ben Roethlisberger, and Joe Flacco were in over their heads in their rookie Playoffs, carried by their defenses and run games. Sanchez turned the passing game into a positive.
Jerricho Cotchery: 5 catches, 102 yards, almost all of them were clutch and difficult grabs. Cotchery made dragging his feet near the sideline into an art form near the end of the season.
Braylon Edwards: The 80 yard touchdown catch probably guaranteed his 2010 return. I've never seen a receiver like Braylon. For most players at the position, catching the ball is the easy part. Braylon has no problem running precise routes and getting separation. It's hanging onto it that presents the problem. He sure caught it today, though, and made a game changing play.
Dustin Keller: Dustin made up for a disappointing regular season with a big postseason. He had 6 catches for 63 yards and another touchdown grab. He hauled in a touchdown in every Playoff game.
David Harris: 11 tackles and 2 sacks. The Jets have something special.
Darrelle Revis: Reggie Wayne made him look bad once. That makes Reggie look like a superhero. Aside from that, Revis played great coverage all day. It had to be frustrating seeing the field day receivers across from him had.
Brad Smith: The throw wasn't pretty. That's probably why he's not a pro quarterback. The bottom line is it was accurate enough for a huge 45 yard gain.
- How bad does the Vernon Gholston pick look today? Not only can the Jets not get to the quarterback rushing four, Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie sure would have come in handy today against Collie and Garcon. I know you can't get on Mike Tannenbaum too badly for one miss, particularly considering how some of his other picks played today and helped the Jets get to this point. Even so...
- Congratulations to the Colts. That second half showed why Peyton Manning is the best in the game. He put up 30 on football's best defense.
As I said in the quick recap, this was a great season in a relative sense. It was also a fun ride. This team isn't going anywhere. Mark Sanchez will only build on this and get better. Kris Jenkins will be back. One can only assume Leon Washington will also. The Jets will likely open next year as one of the top contenders for the Super Bowl.
Still, tonight is a bitter one. The Jets were so close to the Super Bowl. These chances don't come too often. How much longer to we have to wait?