When Jets coach Rex Ryan lays down his meaty coconut for a night’s rest, we imagine him dreaming of massive spare ribs, like the kind that took down the Flintstones’ car, bobbing up and down in an ocean of Hamm’s and apple butter. But if he were to dream about football, he would dream of a game like the Jets’$2 24–14 playoff win over the Bengals this afternoon. Everything he could have possibly hoped to happen, happened.
You can just check the positives off the list. Mark Sanchez — bring back the poise! — neared perfection, completing 12-of-15 passes without an interception. Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones bashed through a stumbling Bengals defensive line repeatedly and without remorse. Darrelle Revis turned Chad Ochocinco into Chad Spanish Word for a Number Decidedly Less Than Eighty-Five. And the blitzing defense messed with Carson Palmer’s brain all day: He had crazy huge N’Avi eyes every time he dropped back. It was a Rex Ryan clinic. That the score was as close as it was seemed a mirage, owing to some chippy, sloppy defense late. The Jets dominated this game almost as thoroughly as they did last Sunday, and this time, the Bengals were actually trying. Well, everyone but kicker Shayne Graham, who is currently being drawn and quartered somewhere outside Great American Ballpark.
The Jets need to fix their penalty issues — dumb mistakes cost a field goal in the first half, and allowed Cincinnati to hang around late — but this was a truly impressive performance all around. The Jets are in the Final Eight, three weeks after everyone, including their coach, assumed they were finished. If the Patriots beat the Ravens tomorrow, they’ll return to Indianapolis, the team they (and Colts coach Jim Caldwell) sent into a downward spiral two weeks ago. That’s a much more favorable matchup, though, and if you’re feeling frisky, you can cheer for the Ravens, just for the possibility for another game at Giants Stadium.
But, yes: The Jets are in the Final Eight. Rex Ryan dreams of barbecue tonight.