Rex Ryan would be 'shocked' if New York Jets lose to Indianapolis Colts in AFC Championship Game

BY GARY MYERS
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Tuesday, January 19th 2010, 4:00 am


Rex Ryan fired the first shot of Jets-Colts championship week by not even attempting to disguise his expectations going into the AFC title game, insisting he would be "shocked" if the Jets don't win and get to the Super Bowl.

He may have looked a little tired after the Jets got back from San Diego at 4 a.m. following their 17-14 victory over the Chargers, but Ryan's bravado was in midseason form as he stood in a hallway talking with the Daily News yesterday about his confidence level going into Sunday's game.

"I'm confident. There is no question about it," he said. "We're going into the game expecting to win. I'd be shocked if we don't. Absolutely would be."

Ryan's brash talk has made him a cult hero to Jets fans, who have been this close to the Super Bowl only twice before in the 41 years since the Jets shocked the Colts in Super Bowl III. Now they are trying to shock the Colts again in the conference championship game after losing to the Dolphins in the '82 season game in Miami and the Broncos in the '98 game in Denver.

But "shocked" if the Jets can't beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in Indianapolis in a playoff game? Not many people would be shocked by not winning under those circumstances.

"Well, that's okay," Ryan said. "We're taking our football team in. It's not just about one guy. It's about the entire football team. We'll see. I feel great about our football team."

Remember, the Colts were 14-0 before throwing in the towel on their undefeated season nearly three quarters of the way through Game No.15 against the Jets. The plan was to put the emphasis on giving the Colts the best chance to win the Super Bowl, not going undefeated, although those two are certainly not mutually exclusive.

The Colts led the Jets 15-10 on Dec. 27 in Indy when coach Jim Caldwell pulled Manning and many of the starters with 5:36 left in the third quarter. Manning was replaced by rookie Curtis Painter - he had yet to take his first professional snap - and he fumbled on the first play of his second series, with the Jets recovering for a touchdown. They went on to win, 29-15.

If the Colts had allowed Manning to keep playing, which he clearly wanted to do, and they won the game, they would have eliminated the Jets from the playoffs. Now they get them with the Super Bowl on the line.

"With us, it wasn't a given they were going to beat us. That's how I look at it," Ryan said. "You got to prove it through the course of 60 minutes. It's true they were ahead of us 15-10. Again, there was no guarantee they were going to beat us."

Instead, the Jets beat the equally uninspired Bengals in the final game of the regular season to earn a playoff spot. Three days later, Ryan proclaimed that the Jets should be the postseason favorites. "I mean in the whole tournament," he said.

Ryan is two victories from producing his promised visit to the White House. He's trying to do it in the first year of his administration and the second year of President Obama's.