INDIANAPOLIS --- Rex Ryan was frustrated on the sideline, desperately trying to come up with some sort of plan to slow Peyton Manning.
He never found one.
Ryan's big-talking, top-ranked defense came up short, and it cost the New York Jets a trip to the Super Bowl in a 30-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game Sunday.
"We tried everything," the Jets coach said, shaking his head. "We tried man, tried two-man, zone, you name it, but you've got to give him credit, man. He's one heck of a quarterback and we definitely had some issues there."
After bottling up Manning for much of the first two quarters, the Jets couldn't contain the four-time MVP quarterback in the second half.
"With Peyton Manning, if you can't disrupt his rhythm, he's going to kill you," Ryan said. "And we couldn't disrupt him enough."
It wasn't the first time the Jets' defense couldn't come through. It blew late leads in games against Miami, Jacksonville and Atlanta and earned a reputation for not being able to come up with big stops.
Still, Ryan was confident all week, saying his team would be the most loose AFC championship squad anyone would ever see. It turned out the defense was way too loose against Manning & Co., allowing three touchdown passes in a game for the first time this season.
"Once we stopped getting pressure on him, he had time to pick up where he wanted to go with the ball," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "It doesn't matter how good your secondary is."
Despite the disappointment of falling a win shy of the Super Bowl, Ryan realizes the future is bright.
"We're close," he said. "We thought we could win it all. We really did."
Disappointed owner Woody Johnson visited the locker room after the game and was also optimistic about next season and beyond.
"They did a great job," he said. "We just hope next year, we'll go a little further, one game further, and win the next one."