By Jason Lockhart
New York Jets fans are still celebrating the team’s 28-21 playoff win over the New England Patriots. Jets players Braylon Edwards and Sione Pouha received a standing ovation at Grasshopper Off The Green on Monday night in Morristown.
Now the fans are getting fired up for this weekend’s AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Edwards, who finished the game with two catches for 52 yards, scored a touchdown late in the second quarter that put the Jets up 14-3. Quarterback Mark Sanchez led the way with 194 passing yards and three touchdown throws while completing 16-of-27 passes. Edwards gave credit to his quarterback while Jets fans cheered.
“It’s all about winning the next game to go to the Super Bowl,” the 6-3, 214-pound wide receiver said during Bob Wischusan’s sports talk radio show on ESPN 1050 AM.
Pouha, who finished Sunday’s game with three tackles, was a key part of the Jets defensive team that put tremendous pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The 6-3, 325-pound defensive tackle broke down the X’s and O’s on shutting down one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.
“Everyone executed well and stuck with the game plan,” Pouha said. “We blitzed and put a lot of pressure on Brady.”
On the night before the playoff game, the Jets heard an inspirational speech from former Jets player Dennis Byrd at a team meeting in Providence, RI. Byrd was a Jets defensive lineman whose career ended in 1992 when a broken neck paralyzed him in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
After the speech, Edwards tweeted on his Twitter account, “I just heard the most inspirational message of my life from former Jet Dennis Byrd” and then followed it up with, “As God is my witness, I have never been more ready to perform in my life. Dennis Byrd, I respect, salute and honor you.”
“He spoke to us [on Saturday] and told us about taking advantage of an opportunity,” Edwards said. “Because no matter how you got here, this is the only time you get. He said he would trade anything in his life he ever posessed just to walk on foot.”
The AFC Championship game will be one of the biggest games in Jets history, Wischusan said. It will also be their second straight year playing for a conference crown. The Indianapolis Colts beat them 30-17 in last season’s AFC Championship Game.
“We’re not talking about the past because that was the past,” Edwards said. “The past is no longer here. I’ll tell you something too. It’s just like the Patriots, they’re no longer here.”
Jets fans are a lot more confident than they were for the Cinderella season a year ago. They are eager to see their team take the field against the Steelers.
“I can’t wait until the next game,” said Brian Brook, a Jets fan and Morristown local. “The Jets showed up to win on Sunday and we could see them in the Super Bowl. I’m very confident about our chances against the Steelers.”
The Jets will play the No. 2 ranked Steelers on Sunday evening at 6:30 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The victors will face the winner of the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, TX.