2011 AFC Championship: New York Jets v Pittsburgh Steelers
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Memories of the New York Jets’ last AFC finalist teams remain fresh almost a decade later. Here’s how the new incarnation can emulate them.

Geoff Magliocchetti

Across social media, the so-called “10 Year Challenge” is enthralling users. Originating on Facebook, this internet challenge surprisingly doesn’t feature partakers injuring themselves. Rather, they have taken a trip down memory lane, showcasing their growth, both physically and mentally, since 2009.

You can excuse New York Jets fans for not being so willing to participate.

For the eighth consecutive season, the Jets have watched the NFL playoffs on television, the third-longest active streak in football. The football gods have further cursed the Jets with the postseason’s results. For the eighth straight third Sunday in January, the Jets will watch their division rivals play for another Super Bowl trip, as the New England Patriots will battle the Kansas City Chiefs (6:40 p.m ET, CBS).

It seems shocking in hindsight, but the last team to end New England’s season prior to the third Sunday in January was none other than the New York Jets. Their 28-21 victory at Gillette Stadium punched their second straight ticket to the AFC title game. While neither league semifinal trip was victorious, hope seemed to be in fair supply for the brash, young squad.

The green inferno, however, never truly ignited.

Since that historic upset, the Jets have amassed a 50-78 ledger, a stretch defined by silliness, carelessness, misfires, and overall ineptitude. Only four teams have compiled a worse record in that span, which New England (113-34) leads by a 23-game margin over runner-up Seattle.

Despite another lost season, this one ending at 4-12, there are legitimate reasons to have hope for the Jets. Rebellions, as Rogue One taught us, are built on hope, and the Jets have a major beacon on each side of the ball. Many believe Sam Darnold will end the Jets’ decades-long search for a franchise quarterback. Defensively, no in New York is more eager to shake the “Same Old Jets” moniker than Jamal Adams.

If they, along with the rest of a relatively young Jets squad, are looking for inspiration, they can look no further than the 2009-10 teams. With September marking the 10th anniversary since that first epic season kicked off, we look at the most important lessons the modern Jets can take…

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

An Elite Offensive Line Can Work Wonders

For better or worse, Mark Sanchez is the first name anyone brings up when talking about those finalist squads. To his credit, the rookie quarterback rose to the occasion in those years, throwing three touchdowns in the New England divisional victory. But the heavy work was done up front by the offensive line, a unit who saw their efforts rewarded with postseason accolades.

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