By MARK CANNIZZARO
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December 28, 2004 -- The task that stands before the 10-5 Jets as they embark on their regular-season finale is quite simple: Win and they're in.
There are other scenarios for them to get into the postseason without beating the Rams Sunday in St. Louis, but Herman Edwards wants no part of any scenario other than a Jets' victory.

He was asked yesterday if he might call his best friend, Colts head coach Tony Dungy, to ask for some special help Sunday against the Denver Broncos, even though the Colts have wrapped up the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and don't need to play a starter if they choose not to.

"No," Edwards said. "He has to do what's best for his team. We don't want any help, we really don't. We want to win a game. Charity is for people that need it. We don't need charity. We need to go win. If we don't then we don't deserve to get in. That's it, period. You want to win going into the playoffs."

The Jets' playoff scenario is quite simple. If they beat the Rams in St. Louis, they'll be the No. 5 seed wild card entrant and will play the Chargers the following Saturday in San Diego.

If they lose to the Rams and either 9-6 Buffalo loses to Pittsburgh or 9-6 Denver loses to Indianapolis, the Jets will get into the playoffs anyway.

If they lose, the Bills lose and Denver wins, the Jets will still be the No. 5 seed and play the Chargers.

If they lose, Denver loses and the Bills win, the Bills will be the No. 5 seed and the Jets will be the No. 6 seed and play the Colts in Indianapolis in the playoffs. In that scenario, the Bills would get the higher seed than the Jets because of a better record against common opponents (10-4 to 8-6).

The Jets are also facing such a must-win situation with QB Chad Pennington at less-than-optimum health. Yesterday, Pennington referred to an "aggravation" in his right shoulder that he will "keep fighting through. "This is nothing that a win can't cure," Pennington said.

Under Edwards' watch, the Jets are 2-0 in these backs-to-the-wall, win-and-they're-in positions with a playoff berth on the line.



In 2001, the Jets went to Oakland after a dismal home loss to a lowly Bills teams and shocked the Raiders on a 52-yard John Hall FG at the end of the game.

In 2002, the Jets played the last quarter of the season playing must-win games after a poor start and routed the Packers at home on the final Sunday of the regular season to clinch the AFC East title and a playoff berth in an all-or-nothing scenario.

"I plan on making the playoffs," Chad Pennington said yesterday. "Yeah, it seems like our team likes these situations; we like drama. We have definitely created a bunch of it. We have been through this before two years, 2001 and 2002. We have veterans that were on those teams and are still on the team now. Hopefully, we will lean on that experience and make something happen."

If that's going to happen, the Jets are going to have to score more points against a potentially-prolific Rams offense that's got starting QB Marc Bulger back under center.

"We're not going to win this game 14-10," Edwards said.

"You can't come out and play the same way we played against Seattle against the Patriots," Jets RB LaMont Jordan said. "You can't play with the same tempo. You can't play with the same type of muscle. You can't fight Tyson or Lennox Lewis the same way you fight a (club) prize fighter.

"You have to step your game up. You have to be a lot faster, a lot more physical. Clearly, we went into a heavyweight fight fighting (like) lightweights. Whatever we've done all year against good teams, we need to do the complete opposite when we play them next time. We have to beat St. Louis to get into the playoffs and, right now, we don't look like a team that belongs there."

Damning words, but words of truth, based on Sunday's performance.