The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for Fanhouse.com

Jets can't keep up

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Of course the pressure in Sunday's AFC championship game is on the Colts and Peyton Manning. They were unbeaten until they tanked their last two games to prepare for winning the Super Bowl. In the first of those, with third-stringer Curtis Painter at quarterback for most of the second half, they lost to the Jets, let them into the playoffs and now find themselves meeting them again in a "real'' game -- a very real one.

But Mark Sanchez doesn't get off free. When you're one win from the Super Bowl, do you want to go home? I had a Giants fan tell me a couple of years ago after the Giants had beaten Dallas: "everything from here on is gravy.'' Sure it was, but he's certainly happier with the Vince Lombardi Trophy -- albeit with a much more experienced quarterback than Sanchez -- than he would be without it.

In any case, this really shouldn't be Sanchez vs. Manning, although we tend to treat quarterback matchups like matchups between pitchers. And on any given Monday through Sunday, a rookie pitcher (or an average one) can have a better day than one who's bound for the Hall of Fame. These are full 53-man teams out there, especially the Jets, who depend on defense and the run game and hope their QB is just an appendage.

Another item to consider:

The Colts could be getting ready for the Chargers, who knocked them out of the playoffs the last two seasons and who have beaten them four of the last five times they've played dating back to 2005. If you'd have asked them a week ago who they'd rather face, those candid enough to go beyond the "we don't care'' cliche would undoubtedly have said "Jets."

In any case, Manning's immediate task is to try to get a couple of touchdowns up and make the Jets chase. That puts pressure on Sanchez to do what Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer don't want him to do -- throw too much. So scoring early is the pressure on Manning.

Sure Peyton has more pressure on him than Mark. But good quarterbacks thrive on pressure. I suspect that he -- and his teammates -- will be up to it. Unless Curtis Painter plays QB for them. Then I rescind this piece.

By Dave Goldberg  |  January 20, 2010; 2:23 PM ET  | Category:  Indianapolis Colts , New York Jets Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Peyton's safer | Next: Can't beat the Colts

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Please clarify. Are you a NY based writer writing for the Post or a Washington based writer writing for the Jets?

Have you moved to DC

Posted by: Cheeseman1 | January 21, 2010 12:56 PM

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