NFL News: Rex Ryan finally wins his game of chess against Peyton Manning

It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here. Rex Ryan defeated Peyton Manning in a playoff game. The New York Jets’ coach had been talking the talk but his walk had been less than impressive. Last season, the Jets were kicked out of the Playoff by
Manning’s Colts. That wasn’t the first time Ryan had been bested by the quarterback in the playoffs. It was, in fact, the fifth time Manning had beaten a team in the playoffs that was coached by Rex Ryan.

Over the course of the past years, Ryan has developed a respect for Manning that borders on being in awe of the quarterback’s skills. “It kills you,” Ryan said. “You fight so hard to get into the playoffs and when you lose, it’s devastating.” This time though,
it was Manning on the sidelines feeling devastated.

In the week prior to this Saturday’s game, Ryan had been creating a game plan to hold off Manning. He studied tapes of Manning’s previous playoff defeats and found one thing common in all those games. You do not blitz Peyton Manning! That was the key for
every defence that had beaten the quarterback in the past years. They played a cautious and defensive game against manning. Instead of putting pressure on Manning and forcing him to make mistakes, the pressure was applied on his receivers.

Fact of the matter is that Manning does not make too many mistakes. He is calm and composed under pressure but his receivers can be made to buckle with enough coverage. That is what the New England Patriots did when they faced the Colts. They flooded the
field with defensive backs without trying to rush Manning. The result was more rushing plays. When facing manning, it is always better to deal with the rush instead of Manning’s passes as Jets’ linebacker Bart Scott noted. “We’d rather have him handing it
off instead of passing.”

That is what the Jets did to reel in the Colts’ quarterback. “We definitely mixed our coverages, played it more straight up, mixed in some loaded zones and different things like that,” Ryan said. “Very rarely did we come after him.”

By covering the field instead of pursuing Manning, Jets forced the Colts to settle for short gains. Manning threw 18 passes in the game and only one of them was for more than 25 yards. Perhaps the only time in the game when New York failed to cover the receivers
was in the second quarter. Antonio Cromartie was covering Pierre Garcon but let him slip throw. Manning seized the opportunity and threw a 57 yards deep middle pass to Garcon for touchdown. Cromartie got an earful from Rex Ryan on the sidelines for failing
to cover Garcon.

“I had some trap coverages in there,” Ryan said, “All he did was look at it and said, ‘Let’s run the ball over here’ where we were vulnerable. He did it twice for two big first downs. I’m like, ‘Golly, kid, make a mistake once.’” Manning made no mistakes.
When he couldn’t make the big plays, he led the Colts forward with small gains and put points on the board with Adam Vinatieri’s field goals. He didn’t throw a single interception in the game or fumble the ball.

Despite the heavy pass coverage, Manning pulled together enough passes and enough yards to put the Colts ahead of New York. Where Cromartie cost the Jets a touchdown when he failed to cover Garcon he also redeemed himself when he rushed 47 yards after Indianapolis
scored its last field goal and set up the winning field goal for the Jets.

At this point, Manning had done all he could. He had given his team a lead over the Jets to work with but the defence squandered it and let the Jets score a field goal with just 3 seconds remaining on the clock.

After having defeated the Colts, New York would now advance in the playoffs and face the New England Patriots at home next week. Patriots earlier wiped the floor with the Jets in the regular season defeating them 45-3 but preparations to face Patriots don’t
start yet for Rex Ryan. “I think I earned 12 hours to enjoy this one,” Ryan said.