January 23rd 2011, a frigid night at Heinz Field in front of 66,000 yellow sock waving fans, The New York Jets took the field to battle for the AFC East crown and the right to challenge for the ultimate.
The previous 2 weeks were full of euphoria for Jets fans considering 2'nd year QB Mark Sanchez had just banished HOF QB's Peyton Manning and Tom Brady into oblivion in succession during epic road contests. The only thing standing in the way of the Green and White and our overdue, and well deserved glory was a QB with very similar early success, a 1200 yard 13 TD RB, and an elite #1 defense.
Regardless, i awoke that morning like a rich kid on christmas, confident that i would not be dissapointed at the end of the day, and excited to brag and boast the next day at work. Thank the heavens there was a 3:00 game that day because i never would have made it until 6:30 with my sanity without some sort of distraction. But, a funny thing happened, I decided not to watch the game, instead i opted to read a book. It was titled " What Not To Do if You Are The Starting QB in a NFC Championship Game " By Jay Cutler. Book sucked and had a sad ending but the message was sound. Turns out it was based on a true story. whoodathunkit?
Anyhoo the anticipation of the last 7 days of hell were finally at an end as the Jets and Steelers took to the "way to yellow stadium for my liking" that is Heinz. I was fairly calm and confident considering the Jets boasted a truly sensational defense that held opponents to 1400 yards and permitted Mark Sanchez to throw for more yards than they allowed. I honestly couldnt imagine any scenario in which the Steelers would score more than 14 points, and that would allow Sanchez to work his shifty magic and squeak out a tight win in an epic defensive struggle.
However; what followed could not be predicted by even the most homeristic Pitt fan. It was an abomination and compilation of the worst 1st half play-calling and execution in the history of the AFCCG, led of course by Brian S$@%^&*heimer. Mike Pettine too, he's not getting of the hook that easy. 3 and out, 3 and out, 3 and out, punt, punt, punt. All while Rashard Mendenhall performed his finest Waltor Payton impression yet. Leading to a 24-3 halftime disadvantage.
But- To our coaches credit, B.S. included, They made some very nice adjustments and came out firing in the second half. On the first TD from Sanchez to Holmes on that 50 yard bomb i felt a nice chunk of that Jets late game magic start to creep through my body, and i was convinced we would pull this out in epic fashion. And it almost happened. Following some clutch defensive plays we had a first down inside the Steeler 5 yard line and then it happened. Brian MothaEffin ________eimer called the worst set of plays topping his 1st half performance and capped it off on 4th down by sending little old man LT up the gut right into the strength of the Steeler D-line where Casey Hampton was waiting for him, stuffing him for a loss and crushing my spirit. OOOOO i was mad... But right after that our defense got a safety on Big Ben and we had some points. But 7>2 NaaMean?
Sanchez, as expected continued the impossible attempt at a comback with another touchdown but we were forever crushed with a very clutch pass and catch on a 3rd down from Ben to Brown sealing our fate as 3'rd runner up again.
I sat the rest of the night alone in my room refusing to talk to anybody, I followed that pathetic showing by rooting so hard for the packers that im convinced it was I that willed Rodgers and Co to victory.
I truly believe with all my heart and soul that if mendenhall did not consume that Rocket Jet Fuel the night prior we would have won that game and gone on to bigger and shinier things. I never remember him being that slippery and effective as he made rediculous clutch runs and catches on 3rd down time and time again. Even with the horrific playcalling of our OC we were still in position to possibly tie and win the game on more than a few late occasions. Sigh........
Well we have our chance at payback at the team that stopped us at our best chance to win the Super Bowl in recent years (I think we would have gotten embaressed by the Saints if we had made it in 09). We had an outstanding team with weapons all around and that year should have been ours. But I digress, Mendenhall is not playing and Issac Redman just wont be able to duplicate that performance. Pukenheimer is gone and Sparano looks pretty good so far. 2 advantages that we did not have the last time. plus we have the great Steeler Killer himself, Tim Tebow on our side. Im expecting a big fat W this sunday, not because we're that much better than Pitt, theyre exceptional, but because this one is personal, for me, for the team, for Rex, and for all us long suffering fans.
This post is dedicated to the only Jets/Steelers fan that i kinda know- MDGeekyGrl.