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Jets fan allow themselves the audacity of hope

Phil Smith, 53, a mechanic from Huntington, comments

Phil Smith, 53, a mechanic from Huntington, comments on the upcoming Jets game in the Boneyard, a Huntington bar. (January 1, 2010) Credit: Laura Albanese

Coming off their team's season-resuscitating victory against Indianapolis last week, Jets fans gave optimism a try this weekend and said they hoped to ride the newly tamed Colts all the way to a win against the Bengals and a postseason berth.

"They're going to win it," said Tommy Lynskey, 54, a technology manager from Farmingdale and lifelong hard-bitten Jets fan. "I think a lot of it has to do with the situation. Cincinnati doesn't need that game."

The Bengals are indeed sitting pretty atop the AFC North, having already secured their spot in the wild-card round next week. But a Jets win Sunday will mean their first playoff appearance since 2006.

"The Bengals will throw this game," said Kevin Krebsbach, 27, a teacher from Port Jefferson. "Between the first and second quarter, they'll bench the important players to avoid injury and the Jets will win it."

A victory, said J.D. Davenport, 42, a printing salesman from Bethpage, is "destined." Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has "earned his stripes" and will likely succeed against a Cincinnati team that isn't going to come out and play, he said.

Farmingdale's Donna Santangelo, 44, owner of a housekeeping business and three Jets jerseys, said the Jets dealing the Colts their first loss of the season was an indicator that they are "going to kick butt."

The unbridled expectation flies in the face of a following that has seen more than its share of postseason disappointment. The last time fans gave into the audacity of hope was in 2005. But the team lost in an overtime divisional playoff game to the Steelers. It's been nearly 41 years since they appeared in Super Bowl III.

Even being in this position is unexpected, said Phil Smith, 53, of Huntington. "Now it's time to make a statement," he said.

Krebsbach's outlook was slightly more sober. If the Jets win, they could play the Bengals again in the first round because the Colts and the Chargers have earned byes.

His friend, Ken Kuzma, 28, a consultant from Bethpage, said Gang Green might not even make it that far. "They beat the Patriots and they beat the Colts and then they'll lose to the Bengals," Kuzma said with a shrug. "It's the Jets. It's what they do."

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