Yes, Peyton Manning was too much for a Jets defense that carried its team to the AFC Championship Game.
Sure, the Indianapolis Colts defense stepped up and shut down as well as shut out the Jets in the second half.
What hurt the Jets as much as both of those factors is what also helped them get to yesterday’s AFC title game, missed field goal attempts.
Jay Feely’s two crucial misses in yesterday’s 30-17 loss to the Colts might not have been the difference, they were certainly costly.
Feely missed from 42 yards out on the Jets first possession of the game. The Jets overcame that one somewhat, still taking a 17-6 lead late in the second quarter, but 20-6 would have been a lot better.
The second miss – from 52 yards out – was the killer.
This one came on the first possession of the second half, with the Jets ahead 17-13. Stopped at the Colts 34 after a Mark Sanchez pass intended for Braylon Edwards fell incomplete, Rex Ryan opted for a 52-yard attempt instead of either going for it on 4th-and-7, or punting Indy deep.
After Feely went wide right, Manning took eight plays, moved his team 57 yards and hit Pierre Garcon for a four-yard touchdown pass that gave the Colts a 20-17 lead they parlayed into the 30-17 final.
Missed field goal attempts have been the behind the scene story of these playoffs. The Jets before yesterday watched opposing kickers miss five attempts in two games.
Cincinnati’s Shayne Graham’s two misses altered the outcome of the Jets wild-card win over the Bengals.
And Mr. Playoff Miss, Nate Keading missed three times for San Diego against the Jets a week ago, as the Chargers failed again in the postseason.
ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS – Mark Sanchez became the third rookie quarterback to start in the AFC Championship Game in the past six years, and the third to lose.
Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger lost to New England in the 2004 AFC title game and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco lost to Pittsburgh in last year’s AFC title game.
No rookie quarterback has ever taken his team to the Super Bowl.
JETS FUTURE – It will take a while for Jets players, coaches and fans to get over yesterday’s loss. It’s always tough when you come so close.
Know this however, the Jets aren’t going away.
Injuries and fluke happenings can always change things, but the Jets look pretty good with Sanchez at quarterback, fellow rookie Shonn Greene at running back, second-year tight end Dustin Keller, a full year of Edwards at wide receiver and a strong offensive line.
Look for the team to add another cornerback to put opposite Darrelle Revis, probably through the draft, but maybe through free agency and another pass rusher to compliment its already-tough blitz package and the Jets could be playing in this game again next year and this time it wouldn’t be a shock.
Consider the AFC East isn’t as strong as it once was, or very strong at all.
New England, the long-time king, just keeps getting older on defense – although any team with Tom Brady at quarterback can’t be completely written off. Still the Pats aren’t the Pats any more.
Miami’s 2008 season was obviously a fluke. The Dolphins look like nothing more than an 8-8 team, which is what they were this year and what they probably will be for a lot of years.
And Buffalo hired Chan Gailey as their head coach.
REST IS GOOD – All right is everyone willing to agree now that the Colts did the right thing by resting their key players the final two weeks of the season after they clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason?
Going undefeated would have been nice, but going to the Super Bowl is nicer.