Here they go again. For the fourth time in five years, the third time under Herman Edwards, the Jets will go into the final game facing a win-and-they're-in scenario. Under Edwards, they're 2-0 in those situations, having qualified for the playoffs in 2001 and 2002 on the final day of the season.
"We like drama and we definitely created a bunch of it," Chad Pennington said yesterday at Hofstra, where the Jets tried to regroup after losing to the Patriots, 23-7.

The Jets blew a chance to clinch on Sunday, leaving them in a state of shock. By Sunday's game in St. Louis, Edwards expects them to be mentally ready for the challenge.

"I'm not going to rant and rave and do a pep rally and do a cheerleading drill," Edwards said. "I'm not doing that. These guys are professionals."

Here's the playoff lowdown:

If the Jets (10-5) beat the Rams, they clinch the fifth seed and play a wild-card game in San Diego.

If they lose, the Jets still can make the playoffs if the Bills (9-6) and/or Broncos (9-6) lose.

If the Jets lose, and the Bills and Broncos both win, the Jets are the odd team out. They would lose out because of a divisional tiebreaker with the Bills, who would have a better record than the Jets against common opponents - 10-4 to 8-6.

The Rams will have something to play for. They beat the Eagles last night, 20-7, to keep their chances for the NFC West title and a wild card alive.

Edwards' close friend, Colts coach Tony Dungy, could help his buddy by beating the Broncos. But the Colts have clinched the third seed and probably will play their starters for only part of the game.

"We don't want any help," Edwards said. "We want to win a game. We don't need charity. We need to go win. If we don't, we don't deserve to get in. That's it, period."

The Jets have dropped two of their last three games. Said RB LaMont Jordan: "Coming into the playoffs, we don't look like a team that belongs there."

NO ABRAHAM: Even though Edwards said DE John Abraham (sprained knee) might be listed as questionable after missing the last three games, the Jets don't expect him to play against the Rams, according to a person familiar with the team's thinking. Abraham may start running this week, but he's not going to practice.

Abraham reiterated what he said last week, that he's aiming to return for the first playoff game - if there is a playoff game. He wants to be at least 85% before returning.

BLAME GAME: Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson blamed himself for the Patriots' two touchdown passes, saying he should've anticipated the passes and played man-to-man instead of zone.

"Out of 14 games, this might have been my worst game as a defensive coordinator (in terms of) calling plays," he said. It was the first time in seven games that the Jets had allowed more than 20 points.

Rich Cimini

Originally published on December 28, 2004