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Rex Ryan defends Jim Caldwell

Jets coach Rex Ryan jokingly has thanked Colts coach Jim Caldwell for playing Santa Claus by pulling quarterback Peyton Manning in the third quarter of a game Indianapolis was leading, 15-10, in Week 16. The Jets' subsequent 29-15 win ended the Colts' bid for a perfect season and led to plenty of criticism for Caldwell and the Colts' organization.
 
But Ryan went to bat for Caldwell in a conference call Wednesday with the media in Indianapolis. "The thing that amazes me is that, I have a funny feeling that coach Caldwell knows a little more about his football team than anybody else, or the so-called experts," Ryan said. "The expert is Jim Caldwell. He earned that right, he put his team in that position. He earned the right to manage his team anyway he wanted to and that was it. Was it the right thing to do? Well, look at how they played last week."
 
At the same time, Ryan wasn't going to concede a Colts victory if Manning had remained in the game. "Nobody will know because the game is four quarters," Ryan said. "We were going to give everything we had in it. They were playing hard when they pulled them. That was their decision, but there was no guarantee they were going to win the game. I’m not saying we would have definitely won it, but I know one thing, we were definitely going to compete to win it, all the way, and there is no question about that. We weren’t beat yet."
 
None of that matters now with the Jets and Colts set to face each other for the chance to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLIV. The bottom line, Ryan said, is this: "That game absolutely means nothing. I don’t even know what our record is. We’re coming in there with a chance to win a Super Bowl, and that’s all we care about."

New York Sports