Calvin Pace's face said it all.
The Jets set out to accomplish what they had always talked about, pulling off the improbable in the process. They did so not only to the delight of their fans, but also to players like Pace, cornerback Darrelle Revis and Braylon Edwards, who have yet to experience postseason play.
The 6-4, 265-pound linebacker couldn't help but smile as he stood on the sidelines during last night's 37-0 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at the Meadowlands.
"I was just proud. We came out strong, didn't leave any doubt," Pace said during a conference call this afternoon. "It wasn't about me. I'm just one person, it's a bigger picture. We're trying to get this organization a Super Bowl [win]. It's what we've talked about since the day Rex [Ryan] came here. We stubbed our toe along the way, but we got back on track. It was good to see it all come together. I came out of the tunnel and looked up and I said, 'This is what you play for.' The towels [were] waving. It was the best game I've ever played in."
He hardly could conceal his excitement in that moment, even from his teammates.
"It meant the world for me to give him a gift that so many guys like him and so many of my other teammates got [Sunday] night, and that's a chance to see what its all about. It's all about playing in the playoffs," defensive end Marques Douglas said.
"To see his smile all throughout the game it seemed like he started realizing more and more that . . . this would be his time to go to the playoffs.
"On the sidelines, you could see him smiling, you could just see him relax and say 'Man, it's going to happen. Man, we're going to the playoffs.' I know that meant a lot to him and it meant a lot to the guys in the locker room also that have never had a chance to go to the playoffs."
It's been a long time coming for Pace, a seven-year veteran and the longest-tenured Jet who had never reached the playoffs.
But he will get his chance at 4:30 p.m. Saturday against those same Bengals.
So will Revis, who posted the following message on his Twitter page this morning: "My 1st and not to be last playoff game. I'm excited."
There's no way to explain that feeling, said coach Rex Ryan, until you step onto the field in a playoff game.
"When you realize how good a player Calvin Pace is, how good a player Braylon Edwards is, and this is their first taste of it. You could try to explain being in the playoffs, but until you get in there and you get that feeling - it's awesome. And once you get that taste, you have to go back," he said. "Friends or whoever tell you how good it is to be in the playoffs, it's actually better than they could describe it. I know it's better than I could describe."