AFC Playoffs: Jets 17, Colts 16
By Micheal Marot
INDIANAPOLIS ó Nothing personal, Peyton. Rex Ryan and the New York Jets finally got the made-for-TV ending they wanted ó they beat you.
The bombastic Ryan got his victory over Manning when Nick Folk made a 32-yard field goal as time expired Saturday night, giving the Jets a 17-16 playoff victory against Indianapolis.
All week, Ryan turned this into a coach vs. quarterback matchup, referring to his 1-5 record against Manning as Jets coach and Ravens defensive coordinator. Instead, it came down to Folk becoming a hero.
ěIíll tell you what, it feels awesome because this is the playoffs and weíre moving on,î Ryan said.
With his main tormentor out of the way, Ryan and the Jets (12-5) head to New England for a third meeting with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick next Sunday; they split during the season, but the Patriots won 45-3 at Foxborough.
The Colts (10-7) beat the Jets for the AFC title a year ago. But both defending conference champs were eliminated from the playoffs Saturday. New Orleans, which beat Indy in last Februaryís Super Bowl, lost at Seattle.
It was a remarkable turn of emotions for the Colts, who thought they won it when Adam Vinatieri made a 50-yard field goal with 53 seconds to go.
But Antonio Cromartie returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards and Mark Sanchez needed five plays to get the Jets into position for the winner.
ěYou know, he (Manning) is the best,î Ryan said, ěand he almost did it to us again.î
Manning certainly had his chances.
He was 18 of 26 for 225 yards and one TD, and got Vinatieri, considered the best clutch kicker in league history, in position with an eight-play, 48-yard drive in the final 21/2 minutes.
But he left 53 seconds on the clock for New York.
After Braylon Edwards made a leaping 18-yard catch to take New York to the Colts 14, Folkís kick went right down the middle.
ěItís certainly disappointing tonight and thatís really all you think about tonight,î Manning said. ěItís disappointing with the way we lost tonight. Any time you lose on a last-second field goal, it certainly stings.î
LaDainian Tomlinson, considered washed-up by some before the season, carried 16 times for 82 yards and scored on two 1-yard runs.
ěItís emotional, exciting and all those things at once,î Tomlinson said. ěWe knew it was going to be a dogfight against a great team.î
The Colts actually helped the Jetsí winning drive by calling timeout with 29 seconds remaining and the ball at the Indianapolis 32. Sanchez hit Edwards on the next play, a high pass to the right sideline.
Folk trotted on and won it.
ěWeíve got to tip our hat to our offense. It was unbelievable,î said Ryan, whose bravado made him a summer sensation in HBOís ěHard Knocksî series. ěI mean, we totally dominated the second half offensively. On defense, we had to hold serve. Against Peyton, youíre not going to stop him completely, but our guys played well enough to get it done and keep him out of the end zone. Our offense was just spectacular.î
It needed to be after Vinatieri kicked his longest field goal since Nov. 23, 2008.