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After week under siege, Jets' Rex Ryan dials up a vintage performance
November, 9, 2014
By Rich Cimini | ESPN.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For one day -- actually, the past few days -- Rex Ryan reminded everyone why he was so successful in 2009 and 2010. From the toy-helicopter stunt at practice to his final defensive stunt against Ben Roethlisberger, the New York Jets' coach navigated a difficult week and a tough opponent with the right blend of humor, fire and masterful X's and O's. It was vintage Rex. 

Unfortunately for him, it's too late to save the season and probably too late to save his job. 

On Sunday, the Jets stunned Pittsburgh Steelers 20-13 to snap an eight-game losing streak, avoiding the first nine-game skid in team history -- an out-of-nowhere performance that will allow them to feel good over their bye week. For one afternoon at MetLife Stadium -- aka Heinz on the Hudson -- the Jets didn't stink. They didn't let Roethlisberger throw for five, six, seven touchdowns, as some predicted. They didn't let the many Pittsburgh fans in attendance take over the stadium. 

Heck, the Jets actually created a turnover -- four of them, to be exact, including two interceptions by surprise starter Jaiquawn Jarrett

"It's like we won the Super Bowl," said linebacker Calvin Pace, describing the mood inside the locker room. 

Maybe this was their Super Bowl. 

At 2-8, the Jets aren't going anywhere important. Maybe, if they can sustain this, they can split their remaining games and finish 5-11. It would cost them prime draft position and it wouldn't change the tenor of the season -- a failure. A five-win season with a 34-year-old Michael Vick at quarterback doesn't scream "Team on the rise!" There will be -- and should be -- sweeping changes. 

"We're still in debt," guard Willie Colon, alluding to the ugly won-lost record. 

Ryan, displaying his old, defiant self, said it would be a mistake to give up on his team, claiming that if you do, "You do so at your own risk, at your own peril." He may have been the happiest 2-8 coach in history, but we're not going to bash him for being so happy. He deserved this moment. After eight weeks of misery, he had every right to be in gush mode. He began his postgame news conference with a one-word sigh ("Finally"), and ended it three minutes later with, "Gosh, let me talk about the win again. It's been a while." 

He should've taken a bow. 

The Jets were under siege last week like no sports team in recent memory. The "Fire John Idzik" banner that was flown over their practice facility was embarrassing and stung the organization, especially since Idzik -- the general manager -- was there to witness it. Talk about awkward. Ryan diffused the situation by instructing a staffer from the video department to fly a toy helicopter at practice the next day with a tiny banner that read, "Go Jets!" It was just the right touch. 

"The outside noise is what it is, but it doesn't affect us," Ryan said. 

From the mid-week flyover to Mike Mitchell's unsavory leap into the Jets' victory formation -- two aerial cheap shots -- Ryan pushed the right buttons. Think about this for a second: The Jets lined up cornerbacks named Marcus Williams andPhillip Adams against arguably the hottest quarterback-wide receiver tandem in history, Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown

Throw in Jarrett, who replaced first-round pickCalvin Pryor at safety, and you're talking about three defensive backs with a total of 10 career starts. In theory, Roethlisberger, who set a record by throwing six touchdowns in each of his previous two games, should've delivered a Hall of Fame day. But he didn't. Oh, sure, he passed for 343 yards, including an 80-yard strike to rookieMartavis Bryant with 1:16 remaining, but it was mostly harmless yardage. 

Ryan blitzed Roethlisberger more than most opponents, keeping him off balance, and they did a nice job of limiting big plays, save for the Bryant bomb. The Steelers helped with a curiously conservative passing attack, throwing short instead of attacking deep against Adams and Williams. But give the Jets credit; they outplayed one of the hottest teams in the league. 

"We're not intimidated by anybody," Ryan said. 

Unfortunately for the Jets, a performance like this makes you wonder what might have been. Where was this team in September and October? Maybe this was just a cadaveric spasm, an involuntary twitch by a dead body. We'll find out in two weeks. For now, Ryan deserves a feel-good moment. He done good.
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Get ready for the " if only poor Rex wasn't burdened by the worst QB play in the league " campaign from Mehta and cimini....we are one or two more wins from the Gatorade bath and the locker room dance...lord help us

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