The New York Jets have made more noise than any team in recent history, but their brash talk has carried them all the way to the AFC Championship Game vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. We take a look at how Rex Ryan's team made it this far.
The Jets started the year active in free agency and the trade market. With the hopes of making the Super Bowl, New York signed veterans such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor. They also made two huge trades, bringing in Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers (despite his four-week suspension) and Antonio Cromartie from the San Diego Chargers.
America got a real glimpse into the personality of the Jets with HBO's series "Hard Knocks." The series focused on the Jets preparing for the season during training camp and the preseason. Head coach Rex Ryan provided enough soundbites in one episode to last an entire season. Our favorite Ryan quote? "Let's go eat a g-------d snack!"
Star cornerback Darrelle Revis' contract dispute was the biggest issue heading into the season for the Jets. Revis missed almost all of training camp and all of New York's preseason contests in the holdout. Then, about a week before the team's season opener Revis and the Jets agreed on a four-year, $32 million dollar contract.
Week 1 loss on Monday Night Football
After an off-season filled with hype, the Jets kicked off their season under the lights on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens. The teams with two highly touted defenses didn't disappoint. The Ravens ended up getting the best of the Jets, though, edging New York with a 10-9 victory to open up New Meadowlands Stadium.
Week 2: Sanchez shines
The Jets squared off against the Pats in Week 2 for the first of what would be many important matchups. Quarterback Mark Sanchez starred for the Jets, throwing a career-high three TD passes. It wasn't all rosy for the Jets though, as star CB Darrelle Revis went down with a hamstring injury in the game.
Thanksgiving: Brad Smith goes off
Every team needs an X-factor, and the Jets have theirs in jack-of-all-trades in Brad Smith. Listed as a wide receiver, Smith returns kicks for the Jets and also takes snaps in their wildcat formation. Against the Bengals on Thanksgiving, Smith returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown ... losing a shoe in the process. He also had a 53-yard touchdown run in the contest.
Week 13: Pats get payback
In their rematch vs. the Patriots on Monday Night Football in Week 13, the Jets saw their shot at sweeping the Pats and laying claim to the AFC East crown essentially slip away. New York got spanked by New England 45-3 on national television, something that surely didn't sit well with Rex Ryan. The Jets were also a bit ticked that the Patriots were, as the Jets say, showboating during and after the win.
Something is afoot?
By far the biggest, and most bizarre, distraction for the Jets this season has been the foot fetish videos and pictures circulating around the internet that allegedly feature Rex Ryan and his wife, Michelle. The Ryans have yet to publicly confirm or deny that they had any involvement. "This is a personal matter and I'm not going to discuss it," Ryan said.
Wild card: Upsetting the Colts
For the longest time, Colts QB Peyton Manning had Rex Ryan's number when it came to head-to-head matchups. Ryan and the Jets managed to outduel Peyton and the Colts, thanks in large part a big game by veteran LaDainian Tomlinson. New York managed to win the game to advance on a 32-yard field goal off the foot of Nick Folk as time expired.
Divisional playoff: Jets back up talk
It's hard to think of a game that had more trash talked and venom spewed before the ball was even snapped than the Jets' divisional round matchup against the Pats. Ryan called out Patriots coach Bill Belichick to start the week, while Jets CB Antonio Cromartie didn't mince words when talking about Tom Brady prior to the tilt. Even mild-mannered Pats WR Wes Welker got into the fray, taking jabs at Ryan. When it was all said and done, though, the Jets backed up their trash talk with a 28-21 thrilling upset to make the AFC Championship Game.