Defensive Jets Charge by Chargers
SAN DIEGO - Rex Ryan is one step closer to his Super Bowl vision.
The New York Jets, led by their brash head coach and a rookie quarterback, shook up the NFL playoffs and punched a return ticket to Indianapolis with a gritty 17-14 upset victory against the San Diego Chargers in a thrilling AFC divisional playoff game that contrasted the blowouts in the NFL's three other weekend playoff games.
It seems fitting that the road to Super Bowl XLIV for the fifth-seeded Jets - who ended the Chargers' NFL-longest 11-game winning streak - must go through Indianapolis for Sunday's AFC title game.
In Week 16, the Jets handed the Indianapolis Colts (15-2) their first loss of the season, sparking controversy because the Colts pulled MVP quarterback Peyton Manning and other key players in the second half as an injury-prevention measure rather than play all-out for a perfect season.
Now the all-or-nothing stakes are obvious as the Jets have a chance to back up Ryan's bold declaration before the playoffs that his team should be favored to win the Super Bowl.
"It's a matchup that probably nobody wanted, but too bad," Ryan said. "Here we come."
New York's top-ranked defense shut down San Diego's high-powered offense with disruptive blitzes and timely turnovers, including a Jim Leonhard interception late in the third quarter that set up Mark Sanchez's 2-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Dustin Keller that made it 10-7 with 13:35 left.
New York quickly padded that lead to 17-7 with a 53-yard TD run by rookie Shonn Greene with 7:17 on the clock. The Chargers closed the gap to 17-14 with a quick TD drive capped by Philip Rivers' 1-yard sneak. But after an unsuccessful onside kick, San Diego couldn't beat the clock or the Jets.