Until this week, the Jets have had nothing but venom and profanity for their playoff opponents while the only praise offered has been lavished on themselves.

New York coach Rex Ryan turned up the rhetoric when he called out Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning ahead of their wildcard contest then focused his inflammatory taunts on New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, saying he had personal scores to settle with both men.

But the bombastic Jets coach and his players have been nothing but complimentary toward the Steelers and their head coach Mike Tomlin, whom Ryan labeled one of his favorites.

Mike Tomlin, I have a great deal of respect for, he's one of my favorite coaches, gushed Ryan. He's a man's man and his team plays like that.

While the Jets have often talked a better game than they have played, squeaking into the playoffs as the AFC's sixth seed, they have been able to back up their bravado with impressive victories over the Colts and Patriots to reach the AFC final for the second straight year.

If the Jets can clear the final hurdle and beat the Steelers, few could deny them the right to gloat after navigating one of the most treacherous paths any team has ever taken to a Super Bowl.


A trip to Dallas for the title game on February 6 will have required the Jets to record road wins over the Colts, Patriots and Steelers and taking down three of the NFL's top quarterbacks, all of whom are possible future Hall of Famers and have combined to win six of the last nine Super Bowls.

With one Super Bowl ring for Manning, three for Brady and two for Roethlisberger, another win at Heinz Field Sunday would cap a glittering treble and send the Jets to their first NFL title game since Joe Namath made good his guarantee of victory 42 years ago.

For myself, I've been there (AFC Championship) three years in a row, I don't know if I can handle not winning it, said Ryan, who reached the game two years ago as a defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens. I need to win this game.

You definitely would've taken a different route... I'll be honest; I wasn't wanting Indy to be in there. The same thing in New England.

Now, you have Roethlisberger.

Outsmarting Roethlisberger, who is one of the league's great playoff performers with a 9-2 record in the post-season, may be the toughest challenge of all.

Roethlisberger sat out the first four games of the season after being suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the league's personal conduct policy but has been a model citizen since his return, guiding the Steelers to the AFC title game for the third time in six years.

I know I am probably never going to win a league MVP, said Roethlisberger. I'm probably never going to win a passing title but that's not why I play the game.

I just go out and try and win football games and try and win championships.

The Jets have just one win in eight trips to Pittsburgh but that lone victory came last month.

New York's Mark Sanchez has had to work through some rough patches and injuries this season but the sophomore quarterback has helped get his team to the AFC title game for the second straight season.

Defense, however, will have as much to say as the quarterbacks about who moves on to Dallas.

The Steelers finished the regular season as the NFL's top-ranked defense, surrendering a league-low average of 14.5 points per game and will be boosted by the return to fitness of their talismanic Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu.

I think they (Jets) have been pretty consistent about stating their intentions all year, which is to be world champs, said Tomlin. I think we've been pretty consistent about stating ours, so you know where that's going to lead us.

That's two trains on a track.