By MARK CANNIZZARO
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December 30, 2004 -- Herman Edwards' glass is always at least half-full.
That's why, in the wake of the possible ignominy that would ensue should his Jets fail to qualify for the playoffs this weekend, he said yesterday he'd have the precarious situation no other way.

Edwards knows he's not going to get any help from the Colts or Steelers against the Broncos and Bills, respectively, because the Colts and Steelers are set for the postseason and likely will play preseason lineups. So Edwards let his Jets know, in no uncertain terms, what must be done against the Rams on Sunday in St. Louis.

Win.

Period.

"See, to me, this is good," Edwards said. "This is not a bad thing. This is a good thing, because you find out what kind of team you are. It's what you want, because if you go to the playoffs, you sit in the same situation next week. If you win, you get to continue to play. If you lose, the same thing will happen: You go home.

"If we win this game we've got to go on the road and win a game in the playoffs," Edwards continued. "If we win this game right now, as far as I'm concerned, we won a playoff game, because it got us in the playoffs. I love it. I'm glad I'm in this situation. Last year [when the Jets finished 6-10], I wasn't standing here in this situation.

"If you're a player, that's why you do this. You want these moments because you find out what kind of player you are. You want these moments for your football team. If you're going to be a good football team, you're going to continue to try to win playoff games and try to win a championship. You have to go through this. It's good we're going through here. I'd rather go through this than what I went through last year, because what I went through last year wasn't a whole lot of fun.

"I promised myself when I left this stage last year after we were 6-10, I wasn't getting in that situation again, not this year."

Edwards' passion spilled out during a meeting with his players yesterday.



"They know how I feel," Edwards said. "They know exactly where I'm coming from. They know what they've got to do."

Guard Pete Kendall, one of the more affable conversationalists in the locker room, was asked if he "caught a whiff" of Edwards' feelings.

"More than a whiff," Kendall said. "There was nothing subtle about what Herm had to say. There was no reading between the lines. He's a passionate guy.

"This is not a bad situation," Kendall went on. "If we're going to be a team that makes noise in the playoffs, and ultimately gets to where we want to go, we're going to have to do it on the road in a hostile environment. They're all going to be must-win games, and this is one of them."

What the Jets are trying to avoid at all costs is negativity seeping into their minds, thoughts such as blowing a playoff berth after a 5-0 start. They're 2-0 under Edwards in this type of win-and-they're-in scenario. That's where their focus is.

"At 5-0 you immediately start thinking postseason, and your hopes and expectations of yourself rise. Just the thought of possibly not making it [to the playoffs] is a horrible thought, especially after starting 5-0," Curtis Martin said. "This is a playoff game. All the conditions of the playoffs will be present in this game.

"I think this game will be the tell-tale of what the New York Jets are about."