They didn't choke it away, didn't put their fans through an insufferable collapse.
After seemingly being left for road kill just two weeks ago, the Jets lambasted the Bengals 37-0 tonight, turning Giants Stadium into Jets Stadium if only for the final night of the stadium's three-plus decade history. The Jets punched their playoff ticket and will be the No. 5 seed, setting up a rematch with the fourth-seeded Bengals at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium.
"We were 4-6 at one time and a lot of people were writing us off and maybe rightfully so," Rex Ryan said. "But I think if you really watched our games you knew about this team and the resolve of this football team, nobody in our organization thought we were done. I know outside, they can think it and they can say what they want. But I know one thing. You don't want to play us and hopefully we can keep this thing rolling."
"In the end, we reached our goal to make it to the playoffs. So however it unfolded throughout the year, we got the end of it. We wanted to be in the playoffs. So now it’s one of those things where it’s a one-game season. I feel like we have just as great of a chance as anybody. The way we play defense, the way we run the ball, I think we’re built for this type of playoff push we’re about to go on.
Perhaps no one as happy as Calvin Pace. The seventh-year linebacker is finally playoff bound, having spent the first five seasons of his career buried on an Arizona team that never even sniffed the postseason.
“This is probably the single most important game of my life," Pace said. "I’ve never been in a situation where it’s a win and you’re in thing. But that being said, it was just one of 16 so you couldn’t make it the Super Bowl. Obviously, it was huge game and we had to get this win, and we found it a way to do it.”
They also found a way to do something the Giants couldn't -- finish things off the right way at Giants Stadium. The Giants never showed up last week and the Jets were determined not to squander their opportunity to close the building out in style.
Thomas Jones, who ran 27 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns (giving him 14 this season and eclipsing his career mark of 13 set last season), was pleased with the how things went down in what will likely be the stadium finale. The only way the Jets can host another game is if they take on the sixth-seeded Ravens in the AFC Championship game.
"It feels great. It feels great," he said. "I’ve played here a lot. I played here when I was in Arizona, Chicago. There’s a lot of history in this stadium and for us to go out the way we did, especially at the end, we did a little victory lap and he fans were really excited. That’s why you do it. You see the fans out there and they’re happy. They’re coming tailgating and standing in the cold and cheer you on and you win for them and get the chance to celebrtate, it makes it special for them and for us."