NEW YORK – Rex Ryan vows his Jets can beat the Steelers even if Pittsburgh puts 17 on the field.
Less bombastic than usual this week, Ryan wasn't quite saying that Friday. The coach known for his creative inspirational techniques was just making the point that the Jets don't need any extra motivation in Sunday's AFC championship game on the road against a franchise as storied the Steelers (13-4).
"We want the T-shirt. We want the hat. We want the trophy," Ryan said. "I don't know what else I need to say. That's the truth. They've had six Super Bowl trophies — if they want to put them on the field, we'll play them, too."
As probably every NFL fan knows by now, former Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd spoke to the team before last week's game at New England — and New York responded with a rousing performance in the upset win. Byrd, who walked again after breaking his neck in a 1992 game, will serve as New York's honorary captain Sunday. But don't expect any special Saturday guest speakers this time around.
"Whatever I think's appropriate," Ryan said. "But I don't believe so this week."
The Jets (13-5) were in this same spot a year ago, going on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Quarterback Mark Sanchez was a rookie then, and everything was whizzing by so fast he felt he was just trying to hold on.
"I just don't think I understood how close we were," Sanchez said. "I know we were one game away — it's easy to say that. You don't really see it until two weeks later from the game you lose, they're playing in the Super Bowl. You go through the whole offseason and then you realize your goal again is to make it back, right there. We were just a quarter and a half away. It's crazy. It blows your mind when you think about it."
Sanchez said his sore right shoulder kept getting better. Cornerback Drew Coleman (knee), safety James Ihedigbo (right knee/ankle), and wide receiver-kick returner Brad Smith (groin) were listed as questionable and limited in practice Friday. Defensive end Shaun Ellis (knee) did not practice and was also questionable.
This time of year, questionable is just a label.
"They're all going to play," Ryan said. "They're questionable, they're playing."