Yes, better late than never but never late is better. I can't lie, it took me a long time to digest this loss by the New York Jets. Very rarely have I been so confident heading into such a big game for the Jets and to see such a promising, memorable season end just one game short for the second year in a row was simply crushing.
This felt like the year from day one, from all the big off-season signings, controversies, and memorable last-second victories. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that if Ben Roethlisberger threw an incompletion on that third-and-six, the Jets were going back down the field for a 26-24 victory on a last-second Santonio Holmes touchdown catch. Unfortunately, that opportunity never came around and we are all left to wonder, what if?
The first half was a blur of pain. It felt eerily like the 45-3 stomping the Jets took in New England and you had to rub your eyes as you watched the horrific tackling and the strip sack for a touchdown. Was this the same team from last week? How could they come out so flat?
Emotionally I was drained at 24-0 and honestly had no confidence in Nick Folk making the kick before the half. However, he did and just like they have all season the Jets kept on fighting. The entire football world, which had gleefully written off the Jets at halftime sweated out a near miracle comeback in the second half. In the end, the Jets didn't have enough.
The chances were there in the second half. The Jets inexplicably lacked a sense of urgency and for some reason ignored Shonn Greene, who was gashing the Steelers when they got near the goal-line. Kyle Wilson dropped an easy interception, Brodney Pool was an inch away from knocking a key pass down on the Steelers last drive and ultimately the Jets defense couldn't make that last stop on third and six.
For the people who are talking about the Jets having to rebuild now ... you are wrong. Unfortunately, this team isn't fading back into irrelevance anytime soon. If you didn't notice the Jets have a big-time head coach and a big-time quarterback, who always rises to the occasion in a big game and is only going to get better. His offensive line is in place moving forward, with or without Damien Woody. He has a young running back in Shonn Greene, a young tight end in Dustin Keller, a reliable Jerricho Cotchery (who offered another gutsy performance through an injury), and either Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes to throw to ... maybe both.
On defense, Jason Taylor can walk because honestly he contributed nothing in the playoffs. David Harris will get his deserved money at middle linebacker and hopefully the Jets will find a way to address their aging defensive line, along with adding a pass rushing linebacker. Their defense will always will be solid under Ryan and their offense is only getting better.
We have all off-season to break down their potential moves, today is still a day to mourn and tomorrow will be, too, because it is going to be a long off-season as we all stress over the CBA negotiations.
I do know this, don't hang your head about being a Jets fan, wear that Sanchez, Mangold, Harris, or Revis jersey with pride. This is a damn good football team who had a hell of a season that none of us will forget any time soon.