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Monday, January 24, 2011
In The Bars: Strawberry's Grill in Queens

By Christopher Hunt

The woman never said her name, but made it clear that she was fed up outside of Strawberry’s Grill in Queens.

“I knew how this rodeo was gonna end because I’ve been here before and it sucks,” she said.

And that was only in the parking lot. She would speak the tongue of every Incredible Hulk green-clad Jets fan that moped their way out of a bar Sunday night after watching Gang Green get bounced from the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year, this time to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-19, at Heinz Field.

The game started with a bar full of charged Jets faithful leaning into every flat-screened television. There were the guys who lifted their buddies onto shoulders while they roused the crowd. The Sanchez and Holmes jerseys filled the room. There were Naismith throwbacks and even a faded Klecko pullover.

Then there was the one guy bold enough to stand in the middle of the bar with a Steelers jackets and fitted cap, but somehow managed never to celebrate or talk trash no matter what happened in the game. A little disappointing. And the one woman who never took her eyes off the screen no matter what.

“It’s just sad,” said Celia Iglesis of Flushing. “I feel like the Jets just didn’t show up. But that’s the way they play. They take you up and let you down.”

Bar goers came on like reckless fighters for almost two quarters until Ike Taylor smashed Mark Sanchez and the ball went flying. Then William Gay picked it up and scored. Suddenly the Jets were down 24 and people were looking for their coats, asking for another drink and talking to their significant others with their backs to the television.

Nick Folk kicked a field goal and no one stirred. Then Santonio Holmes scored and there was beer everywhere. Mike DeVito wrapped up Ben Roethlisberger and more beer spilled.

When Sanchez found Jerricho Cotchery to bring the Jets as close as 24-19, the place was as live as the opening kick just a handful of pints later.

Until the clock started running out.

“I’m just really upset,” said 25-year-old Chris Herrara. “That fumble by Sanchez really cost of the game.”

Herrara usually come to Strawberry’s Grill with his high school buddy Chris Belac, a season ticket-holder who was equally deflated.

“I love this team but every year you let them in and they break your heart,” Belac said “It’s like a bad relationship.”