- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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It was an "Animal House" season that ended one game short of the big dance -- and, no, we're not talking about a toga party.
The New York Jets finished the regular season 11-5 and won two playoff games, their best victory total in 12 years. If they showed up 30 minutes earlier last Sunday in Pittsburgh, they'd be in the Super Bowl for the first time in 42 years.
No doubt, the Jets were a success on the field, but that was only part of the story. They also provided tremendous fodder for the tabloids -- everything from Rex Ryan's F bombs on "Hard Knocks" to Darrelle Revis' nasty holdout to the Ines Sainz locker-room incident to Braylon Edwards' drunk-driving arrest to Sal Alosi's trip to Ryan's alleged foot-fetish videos.
They trash-talked the whole way (except for last week, oddly), reveling in their image as the league's villains. They were good, and they told you so. They buried Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the postseason, not to mention the game ball from last month's 45-3 loss to the New England Patriots, but they failed to bury 42 years of heartache.
A look back at one of the most memorable seasons in Jets history. Our grades are based on 19 games.
Jets' end-of-season awards
Offensive MVP: Mangold -- All-Pro for the second straight year.
Defensive MVP: Revis -- By the end, Revis was Revis again.
Special teams MVP: Brad Smith -- Can score with only one shoe.
Most improved: Pool -- Nice finish after a so-so start.
Least improved: Greene -- Solid year, but more was expected.
Biggest surprise: Jets 28, Patriots 21 -- a 49-point turnaround from the December debacle.
Biggest disappointment: The no-show first half in the AFC title game.
Best rookie: N/A -- No one worthy of the honor.
Best offseason acquisition: Holmes -- Made "Tone Time" part of team lexicon.
Worst offseason acquisition: Wilson -- No. 1 pick a non-factor.
Best-kept secret: LS Tanner Purdum -- Can you recall any bad snaps? Didn't think so.
Best coaching move: Dialing back the blitz-oriented schemes late in the season.
Worst coaching move: Dialing back the trash talk before facing the Steelers.
16hEric D. Williams