Rex Ryan's return to Toronto will be a bit sweeter this week after his New York Jets rediscovered their winning ways.
Thanks to a smothering Gang Green defence that picked off hapless Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme four times yesterday, Ryan's Jets slugged their way to a bruising 17-6 win over the Panthers.
The victory allowed the 5-6 Jets to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive heading into their AFC East clash with the 4-7 Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre Thursday, just the second regular-season NFL game ever played on Canadian soil.
For Ryan, who spent eight years of his youth in the Toronto neighbourhood of York Mills Rd. and Bayview Ave., the opportunity to coach an NFL team in the town he grew up in will be a special occasion indeed.
"I know there will be a ton of Buffalo Bills fans in the building," Ryan said in a phone interview with Sun Media. "Doesn't matter. I'm really fired up about coming back up there to Toronto."
Ryan's recipe for success yesterday: A grinding offence that ran the ball 39 times, coupled with a ball-hawking secondary that featured a 67-yard interception for a touchdown by cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Another Jets defensive back, Kerry Rhodes, chipped in with two picks of his own. Having found himself in Ryan's doghouse last week when he was booted out of the starting lineup, Rhodes made a strong statement to his coach yesterday that he wants to be a starter again.
First-round draft pick Mark Sanchez, meanwhile, turned in an efficient performance, going 13-for-17 for 154 yards.
Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts can tie the NFL record for consecutive regular-season victories when they host the Tennessee Titans next Sunday.
The Colts ran their winning streak to 20 yesterday with a comeback 35-27 win over the host Houston Texans, allowing Indy to run its unblemished record on the season to 11-0.
By disposing of the Titans next weekend, the Colts would equal the league mark set by the 2006-08 New England Patriots, who reeled off 21 consecutive victories before being thumped by the Miami Dolphins.
As for the Texans, cue up another colossal collapse.
Having lost their first meeting against the Colts this season on a missed last-second field goal, the Texans built up a 17-0 lead yesterday and were up 20-7 at half time before the wheels fell off.
The Titans will be no pushovers for the Colts. Not the way Vince Young is playing.
After marching his team on an 18-play, 99-yard game-winning touchdown drive in over the Arizona Cardinals, Young must be considered a frontrunner for comeback player of the year honours. He has now guided the Titans to five consecutive victories.
"Everyone counted us out," Young said. "But we were willing to fight."
The Brett-Favre-for-MVP drums are going to be beating even louder after he threw for 392 yards and three TDs in the Minnesota Vikings' 36-10 thumping of the Bears.
In the words of broadcaster Troy Aikman, a Hall of Fame pivot himself: "He's amazing."
Bumps n' bruises
With quarterback Matt Ryan (toe) and Michael Turner (ankle) on the sideline, journeyman Chris Redman hit Roddy White for the winning score with just seconds remaining to give the Atlanta Falcons a 20-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.