Football

Jets back coach's boast

SAN DIEGO - Rex Ryan is on a roll.

The rookie coach who declared his team Super Bowl favorites after he figured out they were still in the playoffs, is just a game away from being hailed for his psychic powers.

His Jets are still playing.

Rookies Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene led New York to a stunning 17-14 upset of San Diego in the divisional playoffs Sunday, each providing a touchdown in the fourth quarter that marked another Chargers postseason pratfall.

The jovial Ryan isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind, and his players are taking his lead as they head into the AFC Championship Game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday.

“A matchup that probably nobody wanted, but too bad,” Ryan said. “Here we come!”

It was the Colts who pulled Manning and other starters in the second half of their Week 16 game against the Jets, who rallied for a victory that put them in control of their playoff destiny.

Before that game, Ryan said his holiday wish was for the Colts to rest Manning & Co.

“I don’t know if Santa Claus will be that good to me again,” Ryan said. “But I will say that I’d like to see Peyton Manning not play this week.”

The upstart Jets (11-7), winners of seven of their past eight, are in the AFC title game for the first time since 1999.

“It’s a big win for our franchise, and we’re not done,” Sanchez said.

“Don’t pay attention to the words he says,” linebacker Bart Scott said about his coach. “Pay attention to the content. We’re not the same old Jets, and we’re trying to change what people think of us.”

Sanchez threw a go-ahead, 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dustin Keller three plays into the fourth quarter, then Greene gave the Jets breathing room with a 53-yard scoring run on their next possession.

The mistake-prone Chargers let New York hang around too long, allowing the Jets to become the only road team to win in the divisional round.

After Philip Rivers scored on a 1-yard sneak with 2:14 remaining to cut the Chargers’ deficit to 17-14, the Jets recovered the onside kick.

Facing a fourth-and-1 from the 29 with 1:09 to go, the Jets called a timeout. Ryan decided to go for it and Thomas Jones bulled through the Chargers’ line for 2 yards.

“That symbolizes what this team is all about,” guard Alan Faneca said. “The hard nose. We’re coming at you. We’re that kind of team.”

Many people had San Diego picked to win its first Super Bowl title.

“We didn’t, obviously, play our best game and it’s disappointing,” said coach Norv Turner, whose Chargers (13-4) had an 11-game winning streak snapped.

“It was the best defense I’ve played this year,” said LaDainian Tomlinson, who after nine seasons might have played his final game with the Chargers. “Run, pass, and they are really prepared. Hats off to them.”

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