Now that it has been fifteen hours since the Jets fell to the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, it’s easier to put the game in some sort of perspective. (That is to say: You are no longer punching through plaster and bashing your head against the bar.) The Vikings’ loss in the NFC Championship Game was more gut-wrenching and cruel; the Jets’ was just disappointing. Rex Ryan’s charges never should have made it this far in the first place. We were all blessed with three more games than we ever expected. And the team should be even better next year. All in all, nothing to fret about it. But still. But still.
These AFC Championship Games don’t come across very often — according to our calculations, this is the fourth best Jets team of all time — and inferior team or not, Hall of Fame opposing quarterback or not, you have to take advantage of each opportunity you have. You never know when you’ll be back. This would explain our rather sour tone last evening. It does hurt.
But it doesn’t hurt that bad. Yesterday brought much to be encouraged about. Sanchez might have played his best game of the season, and Braylon Edwards had an easy touchdown pass that he didn’t drop. Sure, the defense ran out of steam in the second half, and Shonn Greene’s injury caused the running game to sputter, but considering how much the Jets have relied on each during this playoff run, their breakdown is easily explained. The Jets will be better next year. They have to figure out what they’re doing with Edwards, Thomas Jones, and Kerry Rhodes, and they could probably use a pure pass rusher (couldn’t everybody?), but this is a team on the rise. This is a sign of things to come.
You never know, though. Strange things can happen. Whether you were an upstart underdog or not, AFC Championship Games are rare. The Jets could be better next season and still not reach one. The team deserves all congratulations for making it this far, but we’ll expect more next season. It won’t be so easy then, though.