Hours after the reigning Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints lost to the Seattle Seahawks, the New York Jets took out the reigning AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts. That marks the first time in the Super Bowl era the two defending conference champions have both played in the Wild Card round and lost.
Trailing 7-0 at halftime, the Jets switched up the game plan, running the ball 25 times in the second half. (They had 13 rush attempts in first half). This was a good move against a Colts team that ranked 28th in rush defense during the regular season. New York ran with ease right up the middle, averaging 4.2 yards per rush on 19 runs up the middle during the game - resulting in five first downs and a touchdown.
The effective run game allowed the Jets to run 10 more plays than the Colts in the second half, keeping Peyton Manning off the field.
Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez responded to a rough first half (9-19, 84 yards, interception) by being extremely efficient in the second half - completing nine of 12 passes for 105 yards.
TomlinsonLaDainian Tomlinson had two rushing touchdowns for the second time in a playoff game, and now has six playoff rushing touchdowns - the most among active players. Tomlinson also is just the third player in Jets history with multiple rushing touchdowns in a playoff game, joining LaMont Jordan (2002) and Curtis Martin (1998).
Defensively, the Jets used a conservative approach. During the regular season, New York was the league's third-most aggressive defense - blitzing on 44.8 percent of pass attempts. However, after blitzing Manning more often than not in last season's AFC Championship Game, Rex Ryan brought an extra defender less than 15 percent of the time Saturday.
Jets Pass Rushers
Past Two Postseason Games vs Colts
Darrelle Revis' ability to blanket Reggie Wayne was a big reason why this conservative strategy worked. Manning did not target Wayne a single time outside the numbers. In the regular season, Wayne was the fifth-most targeted receiver outside the numbers. Overall, he finished with one catch for one yard.
The Jets now are 3-1 in road playoff games under Rex Ryan, becoming the third road team in NFL history to win a playoff game by a single point. The last team to do it was the 1997 Vikings who beat the Giants 23-22.
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Saturday's Jets-Colts game is the second in NFL postseason history with two go-ahead scores in the final minute. The other was when the Titans beat the Bills 22-16 in the 1999 Wild Card Playoffs, better known as the Music City Miracle.