With two games remaining on their regular-season schedule, the Jets have already been eliminated from playoff contention.
Still, Gang Green can play the role of spoiler this Sunday when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers in their home finale, or at least help the cause. At 8-6, the Steelers currently have an inside track toward the sixth seed in the AFC, but a loss to the Jets on Sunday would open up a can of worms for Pittsburgh in terms of playoff scenarios for the season's final week.
And it would simply be fitting for the Jets if they could help dash the playoff hopes of the team they faced off against in their most recent playoff appearance -- a 24-19 loss in the 2010 AFC Championship game.
The teams are obviously much different than they were on that day at Heinz Field, but the revenge factor is certainly there. The Jets are just 5-18 all-time against the Steelers in regular season affairs, and are 0-2 against Pittsburgh in the playoffs. The Jets' .217 winning percentage against the Steelers is their second-worst against any AFC opponent, and the lowest of any opponent they've played at least 12 times.
In the 2010 title game, the six-seed Jets -- who had already survived road playoff games against the Colts and Patriots -- fell behind, 24-0, in the opening half. But Mark Sanchez and company battled back, with former Steeler Santonio Holmes hauling in a 45-yard TD pass and Jerricho Cotchery scoring from four yards out to bring the Jets within five points with just over three minutes to go.
But that's as close as they got, as the Steelers picked up a pair of critical first downs to run out the clock. With the win, the Steelers were back in the Super Bowl, though they fell to the Green Bay Packers.
The only other playoff matchup between the two sides is another painful pill to swallow for Jets fans. In the 2004 Divisional round, Jets kicker Doug Brien missed two field goals in the final 2:03 of regulation, including a 43-yarder as time expired on the fourth-quarter clock, following an interception of Ben Roethlisberger that set the Jets up in prime position to move on to the AFC title game.
Hines Ward, now an offensive assistant with the Jets, caught 10 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in the Steelers' win.
Sunday is also a revenge situation for running back Le'Veon Bell, who will face his former squad for the first time since signing a four-year, $52-million ($27 million guaranteed) contract this past offseason. Bell, originally a second-round draft pick in 2011, spent his first five seasons in black and gold, earning three Pro Bowl nods and becoming perhaps the top running back in the NFL.
But after five seasons, Bell, who had racked up 7,996 total yards and 42 touchdowns with the Steelers, disputed with the Pittsburgh front office over his demands for a new contract. As a result, Bell sat out for the entire 2018 season, ending his highly successful tenure with the team.
So while the playoffs are completely out of the picture for the 2019 Jets, a win on Sunday against the Steelers -- who have delivered daggers to the Jets in the past -- would help make Pittsburgh's own playoff picture all the more cloudy.