The Indianapolis Colts are going to face a familiar playoff opponent in the wild card round of the 2010 playoffs. The New York Jets have to come back to Lucas Oil Stadium and will certainly have redemption squarely in their sights.
Rex Ryan is an emotion-filled coach who will likely have his team seeing red, hungry for payback after the Colts kept the gang green from its first Super Bowl berth since Super Bowl III in 1968. Players like Darelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, and Shonn Greene will likely lead the rally call to come into Indianapolis and trounce the smaller faster team that bested them just under one year ago.
One thing that could play in the Colts favor is that quarterback Peyton Manning and his primary receiver Reggie Wayne got a good look at the Jets in the playoffs last year. There is little doubt that there will be adjustments on both sides of the ball by both teams but with a crowd that has proved capable of making it very difficult for teams to play during the Colts late-season playoff push, some might think the Colts have an advantage.
It hurts that Indianapolis will be without starting offensive weapons Dallas Clark and Austin Collie for this rematch. Both players were able to have meaningful impacts in the previous meeting between the two teams. Additionally, Rex Ryan and the Jets made it a point to acquire a second marquee cornerback in Antonio Cromartie, a familiar foe for Manning who has thrown numerous interceptions to Cromartie during his career in San Diego.
Winning the turnover battle is important in every game but one of the Jets primary plans will undoubtedly be playing to their offensive and defensive strengths, which is to force their opponent to grind out yards, time, and not give up many points. It is imperative that the Colts continue their recent success in stopping the run on defense and effectively moving the ball on the ground on offense. If they do so, it will force the Jets to adjust toward the line of scrimmage and free up passing lanes for Blair White and Jacob Tamme.
There is little doubt that the Jets are not wanting the game to become a high scoring affair. Mark Sanchez has not made the kind of jump fans in New York would have liked to see in his second season. There are weapons to keep the Colts secondary honest like Santonio Holmes but Sanchez has not shown consistency when he is called upon to carry the Jets to a high-scoring victory.
It will also be very important for the Colts to challenge the Jets intensity at the beginning of the game. There is no bigger reason to play like a cornered, wounded animal than for the fact that the Colts personify a dangerous animal in just that situation. The team is depleted of many of its stars, it took a great deal of camaraderie to pull things together and get into the playoffs, and many of the players taking the field Saturday may not get the chance to actively make an impact in an NFL playoff game again in their careers.
This team has been able to get into these playoffs on pride and heart. It is not the time to settle back into the “we will just do what we do” mentality. It is time for the Colts to return to the motto of “make it personal”.
This team will not be given anything from here out. If they want it, they will have to show how bad they want it for the full 60 minutes. If they want the mission to continue, it starts with defeating a big city team from New York, a team the media loves to adore, a team whose fans rarely get along with the likes of Midwesterners.
The time is now Colts, Colts fans, Manning, Caldwell, Polian. Do not let the Jets take it from you. If anyone does, don’t let it happen tonight. If anyone does, leave the field wet and stained pink with every bit of fuel and effort that can pour out of you. New York invades Colts turf tonight. Defend the Luke. GO COLTS!