INDIANAPOLIS — - INDIANAPOLIS — For the time being, he’ll just be satisfied with beating his own personal demon, Peyton Manning.
With Mark Sanchez leading the Jets into field goal range in the game’s final minute, Nick Folk hit a 32-yard field goal with no time on the clock to give New York a dramatic 17-16 victory over Manning’s Indianapolis Colts Saturday night in front a shocked throng at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The victory sends the Jets to New England next weekend for a grudge match with their arch-rivals, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
All week long, the chatty Ryan had been chirping about how badly he wanted to beat Manning, who came in holding a 5-1 all-time record against Ryan’s defences including a 30-17 victory over the Jets in the AFC championship game a year ago.
Critics in the media who are getting sick of Ryan’s constant yapping called for the Jets coach to muzzle himself and quietly concentrate on the game at hand.
Get real. As if that was going to happen.
Anyone who knows Ryan, knows he verbally beats on a subject as if it was a pinjada. And at this time of his football life, Manning served as his human pinjada.
Sure enough, in an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas that aired prior to the network’s broadcast of the New Orleans Saints-Seattle Seahawks broadcast earlier in the day, he was at it again.
Ryan told Costas that, during his prestigious tenure as defensive co-ordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, he thought his team had the best defence in NFL history, one that was even superior to that of the 1986 Bears unit that was guided by his father, Buddy Ryan.
That opinion, however, was crushed when Manning’s Colts beat Ryan’s Ravens in the 2006-07 postseason.
Then came last year’s AFC title game. A new team for Ryan in the Jets. A new job for Ryan, who was now an NFL head coach.
No matter. Same old Manning.
“I hold him personally responsible for me getting beat twice,” Ryan told NBC. “As much as I admire and respect Peyton Manning, I don’t think there is anybody in this league that I want to beat more than I want to beat Peyton Manning.”
In the early going Saturday night, Ryan’s defence appeared to be on schedule to do exactly that. On Indy’s first two possessions, the Jets stuffed the Colts on third-and-one opportunities, flexing their muscles in the process.
Unfortunately for Ryan, Sanchez started off, for the most part, at his erratic worst, flushing away some fine field position.
Manning finally exploited the Jets defence in the second quarter, finding Pierre Garcon deep over the middle for a 57-yard touchdown strike to put the hosts up 7-0. It was one of the rare long passes Manning was able to complete in the entire game.
The Jets had an excellent opportunity to put precious points on the board before the half, marching the ball deep into Colts territory. But any aspirations for registering even a field goal evaporated when Sanchez delivered a floating duck toward Dustin Keller that was picked off by Justin Tryon at the goal line, ending the threat.
Say this about Sanchez, though. As ugly as his game is at times, the kid keeps coming back for more.
Sure enough, with the Jets having taken the second half kickoff, Sanchez led his team right down the field, resulting in the first of LaDainian Tomlinson’s two short touchdown runs that tied the game 7-7.
The teams went back and forth, exchanging the lead in the second half. And when the Colts Adam Vinatieri hit a 50-yard field goal with 53 seconds left to put Indy up 16-14, it appeared Ryan would be gutted by Manning yet again.
But on this night, it would be the Jets coach who finally got the last laugh.