City Sports Report

Redemption Song by Marc “Razz” Rasbury

Mark Sanchez delivered when it mattered
Mark Sanchez delivered when it mattered

Mark Sanchez delivered when it mattered

Unlike Captain Ahab, Rex walked victorious off the field

Unlike Captain Ahab, Rex walked victorious off the field

Nick Folk became a "Folk Hero" in a New York minute

Nick Folk became a "Folk Hero" in a New York minute

Peyton Manning Under Center

Peyton Manning Under Center

Every time I see Rex Ryan step to the press conference podium, I expect to hear
something that will raise some eyebrows. Prior to the Wildcard Playoff showdown
against the Colts, all you heard from the vocal head coach was that the game was a
personal battle between Peyton Manning and himself. Up until that point he had not
beaten the all-time great signal caller in a meaningful game. It was beginning to sound a
lot like Captain Ahab going after Moby Dick.

Unlike the Herman Melville novel, this time the great white whale did not get the best of
the ole sailor. Ryan finally snagged Manning as the Jets won a thrilling, 17-16, victory
over the Colts. But when it comes to redemption, Rex Ryan was not alone Saturday
evening. Nick Folk, Mark Sanchez, the offensive line and Antonio Cromartie all
answered the bell when the doubters were coming out of the woodwork.

Ryan made the most noise before the game pitting the contest as a match between him
and Manning. He did not mention Colts’ head coach Jim Caldwell or trying to stop
Reggie Wayne or trying to slow down Indy’s vaunted pass rush. No this battle came
down to him and Peyton. Now on the surface the Jets should have won this game based
on the status of both squads at this given time. However, Peyton carried this team all
season and he had the ability to raise his squad once again especially against a hot and
cold Jets squad that he has owned over the years.

Manning would take advantage of any blown coverage, ask Cromartie, or exploit a
weakness in a formation as he did on a couple third and sevens when he audibled from a
pass play to a run play to pick up the first down. It got to the point where it was more
mental than physical or anything to due with a game plan.

I have to give Rex a lot of credit. He tabled his all out blitz packages in favor of a contain
scheme that kept the Colts receivers in front of them in a bend and not break manner. Rex
suppressed his ego for the betterment of the team.

This is why this was such a huge win for Rex. Besides, can you imagine that post game
press conference if the Jets would have lost?

Then we have the offense, particularly the offensive line. Toward the end of the season,
this unit was starting to feel some heat for the decline of their running game. Even Rex
put them on blast at halftime Saturday night indicating that they needed to raise their
game. They got the message as they came out after halftime in a manner similar to the
Giants in Super Bowl XXVIII. They set the tone for a 17 play drive that cumulated in 2-
yard TD by LaDainian Tomlinson. The line was so dominant that they came off the field
after that drive and pleaded with the defense to get them the ball back, so that they could
feast on the Colts defense again.

If you think the line needed to raise their game after halftime, then Sanchez had to follow suit. Considering how many plays he blew in the first half, it was a miracle that the Jets
were not behind more than they were. I have been saying that this kid is one of the more
resilient young players in the League and Saturday night he proved me right once again.

After an awful first half that included an interception in the red zone to end the first half,
he made the big plays when he had to. He led the team on two magnificent drives to take
the lead. The coaches were so confident in Sanchez’ play in the 4 quarter that they
allowed him to call the plays during that crucial final drive. During that drive he
connected on three perfect strikes to set up Nick Folk 32-yard FG.

That FG ultimately won the game for Gang Green. You know that once that ball split
those uprights, Folk truly let out a huge sigh of relief after being jettisoned out of Dallas
in the middle of last season. General Manager Mike Tannebaum took a big risk cutting
Jay Feely and bringing in Folk in the off season. Both Tannebaum and Folk were
vindicated on Saturday.

It was a night of Redemption for Gang Green. Their coach caught his Moby Dick. The
offensive line reestablished their dominance. The Kid came through when it mattered
most and the much aligned kicker delivered when the game was on the line. Now Ryan
and the Jets can turn their attention to New England. Rex has already started his “me
against Bill rhetoric.” But, like Saturday, it is going to come down to what they do on the
field.

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