Seemingly countless others screamed in delight.
What took place in Foxboro, Massachusetts, around 7:45 PM was the epitome of joy after a 41-day old demon had been exorcised. As a result, the Jets are going to the AFC Championship Game for the second year in a row after defeating the Patriots, 28-21, Sunday night. The Jets will play the Steelers, who beat Baltimore 31-24 Saturday night, in the second game next Sunday.
The Jets played a near perfect game Sunday following a week in which trash talk hung in the Northeast atmosphere. The defensive unit sacked Tom Brady a franchise record five times and drove the MVP candidate quarterback to distraction. David Harris set the tone for the afternoon by picking off Brady on New England's first series of the game. Brady finished 29-of-45 passing for 299 yards, two touchdowns and the interception.
At halftime, the Jets were up 14-3 thanks to two Mark Sanchez second-quarter touchdown passes to LaDainian Tomlinson and Edwards. Sanchez played a brilliant game, as he completed 16-of-25 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns. Sanchez completed passes to six different receivers.
Among the myriad reasons that the Jets offense was able to allow Sanchez to play mistake-free football and keep Brady off the field was a steady effort from the rushing attack. The Jets ran for 120 yards on a combined 29 carries for Shonn Greene, Tomlinson, Joe McKnight and Sanchez.
The Edwards touchdown may have defined this Jets win. He caught the Sanchez at the New England five-yard line before running through Devin McCourty and carried the corner and safety Brandon Meriweather into the end zone.
New England cut the lead to 14-11 late in the third quarter with a two-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Crumpler. Short-yardage back Sammy Morris leapt over the line for a two-point conversion.
Whatever momentum the Patriots had lasted 2:13, as the Jets responded with a five play, 75-yard drive that culminated with Sanchez's third touchdown pass of the game, a seven-yard post corner fade to Santonio Holmes. Holmes was able to keep both feet in the end zone as he fell out of bounds. The drive was highlighted by a 58-yard catch-and-run by Jerricho Cotchery.
Following a bizarre sequence of play-calling that saw the Patriots eschew the no-huddle offense for the running game and concluded with a 35-yard Graham field goal to cut the lead to 21-14 with 1:57 left in the game, Antonio Cromartie recovered an on-side kick attempt and returned it to the New England 20-yard line. Two plays later, Greene burst through the right side of the line for a 16-yard touchdown that guaranteed the Jets will play in Pittsburgh next Sunday. Green slid into the end zone and was mobbed by his teammates and Rex Ryan.
Brady hooked up with Deion Branch for a 13-yard touchdown with 24 seconds left for the game's final score. Trailing 28-21, New England attempted another on-side kick that reserve safety and special teams captain Eric Smith recovered. One kneel down later, the celebration was on.