We all know the setup.

Should the Colts slip up Sunday, they'd better expect to hear a mouthful from this guy.

It’s Week 16 and the Jets are on the cusp of playoff elimination. The Colts are pursuing perfection and seemingly in control, leading the visiting Jets 15-10despite resting several banged up starters from the get go.

Colts backup quarterbacks Curtis Painter and Drew Willy — that’s right Drew Willy — begin warming up on the sideline midway through the third quarter.

Manning sits, Painter and the Colts implode, and the Jets leave Indianapolis 29-15 winners — playoff hopes in tact.

The Colts are publicly annihilated for their decision to take a pass on perfection by fans and media alike.

Fast forward a month and ironically, the Colts find themselves staring down the Jets again. This time it matters — a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line.

It’s undeniable all of the pressure rests squarely on the Colts. Nothing was expected of the Jets coming into the season. Nothing was expected of the Jets coming into the playoffs. The Colts let the Jets into the playoffs; it’s up to them to knock them out.

The Colts cleared one hurdle Saturday by easily handling the Ravens and debunking the rust myth. But the bigger hurdle remains.

Take down Rex Ryan and the brash Jets and the media and fan whining is silenced. Like the Colts’ strategy or not, they would be AFC Champions — enough said.

Lose to the Jets and the backlash will return. The Colts will be hammered by the media for their Week 16 decision all over again and Ryan will likely kick the dejected squad while they’re down.

Lost in the media’s obsession with Week 16 is what happened between these two teams in the 2002 playoffs.

For a few Colts — Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday, Ryan Diem, Dwight Freeney, and Raheem Brock – the memory surely remains vivid.

That year the Jets delivered one of the biggest beatdowns in recent playoff history, dismantling the Colts 41-0.

If avenging the 2002 humiliation and silencing Ryan, the media, and angry fans across the country isn’t enough motivation, the Jets’ decision to promote AFC Champions gear on their website should do it. Everything from Jets’ AFC Champion hats and hoodies to Super Bowl programs are available for pre-order.

If it’s been said once, it’s been said 1,000 times — if a team needs extra motivation this late in the game, they’re in trouble.

That may be true, but I’m guessing it can’t hurt. And if there was ever a team with extra motivation, it’s the Colts.

Soon enough the talk will cease and we’ll finally find out what really would’ve happened in Week 16 had the Colts kept their foot on the gas.

One thing is certain, there will be no more free passes for Ryan and the boys come Sunday. This time, they’ll have to earn it.

Advertisements