AFC Championship Game Has Been Painful For Jets

Since winning their lone Super Bowl in 1969, the New York Jets have been on the cusp of a Super Bowl with four appearances in the AFC Championship Game. Yet, all four trips ended in painful disappointment. Let’s take a closer look at just how bad each one hurt and hope this is the year they finally get over the hump.

1982: Miami Dolphins – 14 New York Jets – 0– The “Mud Bowl”…Miami notoriously didn’t put a tarp on the field the night before the game, leading the playing surface to resemble a swamp. Jets quarterback Richard Todd threw five interceptions, including one that was returned for a score. This followed a strike shortened 9 game season, so I don’t know if that dulled the pain at all for Jets fans at the time (considering I wasn’t born until 5 years after this) yet judging from hearing my Uncle talk about this game, it didn’t.

1998: Denver Broncos – 23 New York Jets – 10 – Early in the second half, a blocked punt by Blake Spence set up a 1 yard touchdown run by Curtis Martin, giving the underdog Jets a surprising 10-0 lead. Yet, what followed was a complete meltdown that still stings to think about today. Denver ripped of 23 straight points and they moved up and down the field on the Jets defense at will. Their comeback was supported by a botched kick return that the Broncos recovered (thank you very much Dave Meggett). In the end, the Jets couldn’t overcome a mind-boggling six turnovers, including four fumbles.

2009: Indianapolis Colts – 30 New York Jets – 17 – The Jets came from 7-7 and being proclaimed out of the playoffs by their own coach to Indianapolis for the AFC Championship Game. Similar to 1998, the underdog Jets would build a double digit lead, this time at 17-6 late in the first half, and then watch their opponent storm back for the victory. The Colts scored 24 unanswered points as the Jets defense was helpless to stop Peyton Manning.

2010: Pittsburgh Steelers – 24 New York Jets – 19 – Coming off arguably the second biggest win in franchise history when they upset the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Jets sleepwalked out of the gate and fell behind 24-0. A furious second half comeback attempt fell just short as they couldn’t stop Pittsburgh on a key third down to give their offense one last shot for the win. Considering the way last season went, I still fully believe if the Jets stopped Pittsburgh on that third down and got the ball back, they would have scored the winning touchdown.

Which loss do you think was the most painful? I would say it was between last year and 1998. In ’98, the Jets had been rolling all year since Vinny Testaverde took over at quarterback and they had control of the game in the second half and to see it crumble so quickly was brutal to watch. Last season, you really felt after knocking New England off, it was the Jets year to fulfill all their pre-season hype and guarantees but it just didn’t happen for them.

Hope Dies: Jets Can't Overcome First Half Deficit

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You can’t expect to win games when you fall behind 24-0, nor when you can’t execute a hurry up offense because there is no communication between the sideline and quarterback, nor when you decide to keep LaDainian Tomlinson in the game when Shonn Greene is averaging nearly 6 yards a carry.

In the end, are you shocked our season ended on a slot receiver catching a pass? Too big of a hole…and the Jets were a miracle short in 2010. Unfortunately, we are turning into the Philadelphia Eagles of the AFC.

Two straight years of losing in the AFC Championship Game is tough to stomach right now. We know we have a coach and we know we have a quarterback (20/33, 233 yards, 2 TDs) but there will still be plenty of changes to the roster next year.

It could be a long wait until next season, so there is plenty of time to rehash this game, right now I have to realize this streak without a Super Bowl is going to continue.

AFC Championship Game – 12 Pack of Predictions

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It is cold, it is refreshing and it is wrong more times than not…it is the 12 pack, with a very special AFC Championship Game edition –

1. Mark Sanchez is going to throw for about 200 yards and hit a key big play down the field to Santonio Holmes, who is due for a long touchdown. He also won’t turn the football over.

2. Braylon Edwards will lead the Jets in receptions and yards, continuing his terrific season as the Jets most reliable receiver.

3. Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson will combine for less than 90 yards rushing, it is going to be tough sledding against a pissed off Pittsburgh front seven that didn’t play well in the previous Jets match-up.

4. Ben Roethlisberger is going to create a long touchdown after breaking the pocket by hitting one of his receivers that isn’t being covered by Darrelle Revis. Overall, Antonio Cromartie is going to have a tough time in this game and will be picked on by Roethlisberger.

5. Rashard Mendenhall won’t crack 100 yards but will still have a solid outing against the Jets defense, especially taking advantage when they don’t stack the box.

6. The Jets are going to have one big kick return that will directly set up points.

7. The Jets will be very hesitant to attempt a field goal over 40 yards, Nick Folk is going to miss a kick somewhere between 30 and 40 yards as well.

8. Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller are both going to have productive days working the middle of the field against the Jets secondary.

9. Jason Taylor is going to record a sack in a big spot. I know he has looked out of it the past week, but I just got a feeling.

10. Shaun Ellis is going to play another very strong game and keep pressure on Roethlibserger throughout the game.

11. The Jets are going to score points in the first quarter…finally.

12. Yes, Yes, Yes…the Jets are going to the Super Bowl. Put it down as my most confident pick of the season, with the Jets winning 21-17 in a tight, hard-fought game. This is our year and it has been since the off-season, through Hard Knocks, through all the miracle last second victories, through all the controversies, and punctuated by the major upset of the Patriots last week, that even I couldn’t see coming…shame on me. Pittsburgh has won enough damn Super Bowls, this is our time.