The New York Jets defeated the Indianapolis Colts in a memorable doozy of a playoff game last Saturday. That now gives Gang Green a 3-1 record against the Colts in postseason play. The two teams first met, of course, in Super Bowl III on Jan. 12, 1969. Joe Namath guaranteed the victory, Matt Snell gained 121 yards and scored the team's only touchdown, Jim Turner booted three field goals and the defense intercepted four passes, as the Jets walked off the Orange Bowl field with a historic 16-7 win. The next meeting came after the 2002 season. On Jan. 4, 2003, the Jets whipped the Colts by a score of 41-0. Chad Pennington completely outplayed Peyton Manning (14 for 31, 137 yards, no TDs, two INTs), with a 19-for-25, 222-yard, three-touchdown, no-interceptions performance. LaMont Jordan gained 102 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns. Santana Moss, Richie Anderson and Chris Baker all made their way into the end zone. The winning streak was snapped last year, when the Colts overcame a halftime deficit to beat the Jets, 30-17. But Gang Green was back in the win column with their victory this week.
Now on to the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
One Down, Three to Go: With just over two minutes left, and Peyton Manning ready to start a fourth-quarter drive and greatest-clutch-kicker-in-NFL-history Adam Vinatieri looming on the sidelines, things were looking bleak for the Jets. Manning did drive his team down field, and Vinatieri worked his usual magic, but three points wasn't enough against these Jets.
The game-winning drive for Gang Green was almost too easy. Antonio Cromartie supplied the long kickoff return the team needed. And it only took five plays, capped off by the Mark Sanchez-called 18-yard pass play to a leaping Braylon Edwards, to put the team in chip-shot field-goal range. Considering Nick Folk's shaky season, the closer the better. But Folk came through, and the Jets relived their mid-season late-game/overtime comebacks that have been their specialty this year. What's more exciting than a last-second victory, anyway? Ground and pound was the key to the game, with LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene and the offensive line coming through when the team needed them most. Sanchez also came through when they needed him most, but otherwise he looked like a rookie in the game.
The defense, excluding the first Colt touchdown, did their job, holding Manning in check and preventing him from being more Peyton Manning-like. Now it's on to the next star quarterback, and time to avenge the 45-3 smackdown from last month. Unfortunately, the Jets won't have Damien Woody for the rest of their playoff run (and might be missing Drew Coleman and Brad Smith, as well), but they will have Antonio Cromartie. If the Pats win and he gets burned by Tom Brady, will Cromartie make like Ralph Kramden: "I've got a biiiiigggg mouth!"
Waiting for Carmelo? The New York Knicks went an acceptable 2-2 on their West Coast road trip, alternating wins and losses. They clobbered the Suns on Friday, 121-96, with a barrage of threes, amid Amar'e Stoudemire's return to the desert. The win was so convincing even Anthony Randolph was allowed to play in that game. The Knicks, in turn, were clobbered by the Lakers on Sunday. They then beat Portalnd but lost to Utah, and let in a season-high 131 points, to boot. And Utah didn't even need old New Orleans Jazz Pete Maravich to pump in 60-plus points, either. Stoudemire and a few others are banged up and looking weary these days. And Stat did or did not text Carmelo Anthony, who really, really wants to be a Knick. We think.
Really, Really Waiting for Carmelo: The New Jersey Nets spent all week working on a 136-player deal that would land them Anthony, Richard Hamilton and Chauncy Billups. There are whispers that the complicated trade would also include Billy Paultz, Buck Williams, Dan Issel and David Thompson. Meanwhile, the Nets lost to Washington (isn't that the one team they should beat?), Milwaukee and Phoenix this week. And Brook Lopez was benched at the end of the Suns game. The battle of the Lopez twins just doesn't quite get the same hoopla as the Manning Bowls, though, does it?
The End of an Era: Michal Rozsival was shipped out to Phoenix on Monday, ending his five-and-a-half season tenure with the New York Rangers. He's been with the team so long, he was part of Glen Sather's post-lockout, Czeck-mates social-initiative program. He had an up-and-down time with the team, often taking the brunt of the Garden faithful's wrath. In his first season with the Blueshirts, he actually went a plus-35.
But just a few short years later, he and Wade Redden created a boo-fest at MSG that will always be remembered. He finished his Ranger career playing in 432 games and totaled 176 points. He never complained about anything, though, did he? The Rangers picked up the tongue-twistingly named Wojtek Wolski in the deal. The trade clears cap space, makes the team younger and adds a much-needed forward to their decimated ranks, since the Alexander Frolov season-ending injury. Wolski could be a steal or he could another wasted-talent, Nikolai Zherdev-like player. He's a demon in the shootout, though.
But the trade was worth making. Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal were named to the All-Star team this week, and Derek Stepan is going as well, as a rookie. On the ice, the Rangers continued their impressive season, going 3-1 this week, which included a shootout win over Dallas (thanks to Mats Zuccarello) and two low-scoring victories over St. Louis and Vancouver, which was one of the best 1-0 wins you'll see in a while. The King showed why he's an All-Star against the Canucks, and Wolski picked the perfect time to score his first goal with his new team. Imagine what the Rangers could be doing if Marian Gaborik were playing like he did last year?
Young at Heart (and in the Nets): The week started well for the New York Islanders, as they beat Colorado 4-3 in overtime on Saturday. John Tavares scored the game-winner, and Kevin Poulin notched his first NHL win. The rest of the week wasn't so kind to them, though, as they were defeated by Chicago, Vancouver (in a shootout) and Ottawa, and let in 15 goals along the way. They were using two rookie goalies, though, so there's bound to be some bumps in the road. Rookie Michael Grabner will represent the team during All-Star weekend in the skills competition.
Let the Dismantling Begin: The New Jersey Devils started waiving the white flag, sending Jamie Langenbrunner to Dallas on Friday for a conditional draft pick. Though no Devil deserves to be an All-Star this year, Patrik Elias did make the cut. There was no such luck for $100-million-man Ilya Kovalchuk, though. The Devils do have a one-game winning streak, after defeating Tampa Bay 6-3 on Sunday. So they have that going for them.
Hot Stove: The New York Mets erected a six-foot statue of Taylor Tankersley at their spring training complex, while the New York Yankees signed George Steinbrenner to a minor-league deal. Or maybe it was the other way around. I could be getting all that mixed up. It looks like Andy Pettitte could pull a Roger Clemens and make his comeback while the season's underway. I have no doubt that Suzyn Waldman will be able to contain herself this time around if that happens. But the big news was the Bombers' signing of new set-up man Rafael Soriano. Their rotation may be a question mark, but their bullpen is shaping up to be one of the best in the league.