Lucky? Yes, but Jets are good, too.

Following an ugly Week 15 loss at home to the Falcons, a game in which they botched three field goal attempts and had their head coach mistakenly announce that they were out of the playoffs, the Jets’ season appeared to be over.

The Jets needed several things to happen over the final two weeks of the season to keep their postseason hopes alive, one of which was to beat the 14-0 Colts in Indianapolis. Then they had to hope that the Jaguars would lose to the Patriots and the Dolphins to lose to the Texans.

Well wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happened.

Jim Caldwell decided to pull his starters in the second half and the Jets cruised to a 29-15 victory over the Colts in Week 16. The Jaguars and Dolphins both lost, meaning a win over the Bengals in Week 17 meant that the Jets would make the postseason as the fifth seed.

With little to play for, Cincinnati gave a pathetic effort in a blowout loss to New York in Week 17, which allowed a once dead team a chance at a second life. And with that second life, Rex Ryan’s Jets have taken full advantage of their opportunities.

The word “lucky” is being tossed around in comparison to the Jets, which is fair. They were lucky that Caldwell pulled Peyton Manning and the rest of Indy’s starters in the second half in Week 16 and lucky that the Bengals decided to play J.T. O’Sullivan for the entire second half of that final game. They were also lucky that their Week 15 loss to the Falcons (a game in which they should have won) didn’t come back to haunt them, which happens to fringe teams with playoff aspirations every season.

But a team that owns the best defense and running game in the league doesn’t get to the AFC Championship Game on luck alone. The Jets earned the right to play the Colts this Sunday by winning not one, but two postseason games on the road this year, not to mention doing so with a rookie under center. Ryan and his coaching staff deserve a ton of credit for installing two solid game plans to take down the Bengals and Chargers and the team also hasn’t strayed from who they are (i.e. a team that relies on its running game and defense to win games). There has been no panic in this young Jets team, even though they’ve trailed in each of their first two playoff games.

Did they catch some lucky breaks along the way? Absolutely. But they have also made the most of those breaks with excellent game-planning and perfect execution. Luck played a part in getting the Jets to this point, but talent has carried them since.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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