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Jets fan, once cautiously optimistic, grieve playoff run

Long-suffering Jets fans have been here before.

“It always ends in disappointment,” said Nicole Croes, a 28-year-old Manhattan resident decked out Sunday in Gang Green gear. “We’re set up for losing.”

The Indianapolis Colts trampled the miracle run of Mark Sanchez and the Jets on Sunday, breaking fans’ hearts a mere game away from the elusive Super Bowl. The dejection was rampant at Standings bar in the East Village, but after 41 years without a national title, supporters knew how to put on a brave face after the 30-17 loss.

“I’m hopeful for the future. The team showed promise. … Perhaps we’re seeing the start of something bigger,” said Derek Wright, 30, of Ditmas Park. Sanchez, the 23-year-old rookie quarterback, is a part of that promise, Wright said, adding, “He has the ‘cult of celebrity’ that you need to succeed in New York.”

Cautious optimism about the Jets’ playoff prospects may have helped to soften the blow of the season-ending defeat, and many showed pride in a team that had gone farther than most expected.

“They had a fantastic season,” said David Mark Brown, 60, of the East Village. “They came back from the dead four weeks ago.”

Craig Lieberman, 30, of Harlem, was getting close to collecting $35,000 for betting before the season on 35-1 odds that his Jets would triumph in the Super Bowl. Sunday at Standings, he said he still felt like a winner.

“This is all bonus time,” Lieberman said of the Jets’ playoff streak. “They should not have even been here. … This is more a success than anyone could have imagined.”

Nhat Le on Sunday couldn’t help but compare Gang Green to New York’s other pro football team, which clinched a Super Bowl victory in 2008. The 28-year-old from Williamsburg said, “The Jets are still the little brother to the Giants.”

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