For New York Jets fans, the Pittsburgh Steelers are lesser of two evils
Jan 14, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Patriots in this Sunday’s AFC Championship game is a no-brainer for New York Jets fans.

Look, when it comes to fans of the New York Jets, it’s easy to know who they’ll be rooting for during this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

However, that doesn’t mean the Gang Green faithful should be happy about cheering for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While it may not compare to what the New England Patriots have done, the Steelers have caused the Jets and their fans quite a bit of heartbreak during the Ben Roethlisberger era. The most notable example is the 2010 AFC Championship game when the Jets couldn’t complete a second-half comeback and lost 24-19, marking the second consecutive season where the Jets came up one game short of reaching the Super Bowl.

Yet, while the 2010 conference title game stands out the most, it is not the only time the Steelers put a dagger in the hearts of Jets fans. Steel City beat out the green and white for the final playoff spot in 2015. Yes, in reality, the Jets did it to themselves and had no excuse to lose that game to the Buffalo Bills the final week of the season. A 10-6 team that misses the playoffs is always irritating.

What about the Divisional Round playoff game in 2004, Roethlisberger’s rookie season?

The Jets had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation and upset the 15-1 Steelers, but Doug Brien botched a field goal from inside the 20-yard-line and the Jets wound up losing 20-17 in overtime. Again, they cost themselves the game, and the heartbreak still stood.

Jets fans can also say they’ve done something against New England that they haven’t done against Pittsburgh: beat them in a playoff game.

Also, since Tom Brady took over as the Patriots starting quarterback, the Jets are the only the team that won the AFC East Division during seasons in which he was healthy. (The Miami Dolphins won the division in 2008, but Brady missed most of that year). Don’t forget, when the Jets won the division in 2002, the Pats helped them get into the playoffs by beating the Dolphins the final week that season.

Obviously, this doesn’t compare to the torture the Jets have encountered at the hands of the Patriots since the Brady and Bill Belichick era began in 2001. Jets fans are sick of being reminded that Belichick could have been their coach, that their team started the Brady era by injuring Drew Bledsoe the second week in the 2001 season and that those two have gone on to win four Super Bowls since.

On top of that, Darrelle Revis won his only ring the year he played for the Pats. And of course, there’s the butt-fumble which doesn’t need to be discussed again.

New York sports fans have probably seen worse occasions involving rooting for the lesser of two evils. New York Mets fans had to deal with the 2009 World Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. Some Jets fans would say the same about the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowls when the New York Giants played the Patriots. New York Rangers fans had no clue who to cheer for whenever the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers played each other in the playoffs.

While this coming Sunday’s game may not be quite as extreme as these past examples, it still won’t be easy for the green and white faithful to cheer on the Steelers.

One thing is for certain: Jets fans will certainly be rooting for the NFC winner come Super Bowl Sunday.

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