Rex Ryan’s tough talk is on the line Saturday night as the Jets play the Colts in Indianapolis in a wild-card playoff game, and for fans it could make or break their faith in Gang Green.
After a crushing 30-17 loss to the Colts in last year’s AFC Championship Game, the Jets want vindication. A win could validate head coach Ryan’s season-long boasts and Super Bowl predictions, but a loss would devastate fans.
“If they lose, it’s a season of unfulfilled promises,” said Matt Loede of NFLGridironGab.com. “Rex Ryan made fans believe in these high expectations, but now we’ll see if they can win somewhere they have some demons from a year ago.”
But Nate Dunlevy of Colts blog 18to88.com said all the rematch talk is just that — talk.
“It’s the same jerseys, but these aren’t the same teams they were last year,” he said. “The Colts are not the same juggernaut they were; they’re a shell of themselves decimated by injury.”
Tyson Rauch of JetNation.com agreed.
“A lot’s being made about redeeming last year,” he said, “but this is just one step in the journey to the Super Bowl.”
Dunlevy added that Colts quarterback Peyton Manning — Ryan’s proclaimed nemesis — is back to All-Pro form after a five-game mid-season meltdown despite Indianapolis’ injury-plagued roster.
Ryan last week called out Manning, saying: “I’m going to beat him one day and I just hope it’s this Saturday,” adding that his desire to beat the Colts is “personal.” Manning has a 5-1 record against Ryan-led defenses.
The Jets come in 11-5 after a shaky second half of the season that was lowlighted by devastating losses to Chicago and New England, with the Patriots blowing them away 45-3.
And if the Jets beat the Colts, it’s back up to Foxboro, Mass., to play Tom Brady and the Pats.
But for some fans, all that matters is a good game Saturday.
“I’m just so excited, because the Jets have pulled out some amazing wins,” said Bill Steyert, 67, of Forest Hills. “But of course they’ve looked despicable sometimes.”
He added: “What it comes to is which Jets are gonna turn up: the good Jets or the bad?”