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[Jets] Edwards Relishes Jets' Must-Win Situation

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  • [Jets] Edwards Relishes Jets' Must-Win Situation

    AP Sports Writer

    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- The New York Jets could have wrapped up a playoff berth last week with a victory.

    Ah, but these are the Jets, who seem to enjoy doing things the hard way. Now they face their toughest game of the season: They must win at St. Louis, in front of a hostile crowd, against another team playing for a postseason berth.

    A daunting task, indeed. Unless you ask coach Herman Edwards.

    "It's good for you," Edwards said Wednesday. "The harder, the better. Come on. The bigger the bully, the better. Come on. Because life is about a fight. You can't go run in your house and close the door. You're not in your neighborhood, so you'd better go fight. If we do that, we'll be OK."

    There was not much fight in the Jets (10-5) last week in a 23-7 loss to New England. They returned to practice eager to make up for all the mistakes they made against the Patriots - and knowing a victory is the only thing that matters.

    Whether or not this is a good situation come Sunday remains to be seen.

    "I don't know why but we always play our best when our backs are completely against the wall," veteran receiver Wayne Chrebet said. "We could have had it locked up and go looking forward to the playoffs this week instead of sweating it out, but ... I think we'll see a different team out there last week."

    It better be. But that will not be easy.

    The Rams have won 13 straight regular-season home games in December and January dating to 1998. The Rams last lost late in the season at home on Dec. 14, 1997, when they fell 13-10 to Chicago.

    St. Louis (7-8) also is alive for a shot at the NFC West title or an NFC wild card with a victory, thanks to a 20-7 victory over Philadelphia on Monday night.

    "It's great," Edwards said. "It will be loud; it's a playoff atmosphere. It's everything you can ask for as a coach and as a player. I love it, that's why you do this. You want these moments for your football team."

    He has gone through these moments before, in 2001 and 2002, when the Jets needed to win their final game for a playoff berth. They did just that both times, beating Oakland on the road in '01 and Green Bay at home in '02.

    Perhaps that is why Edwards and his team are not panicking.

    "Maybe we are a drama-filled team," running back LaMont Jordan said. "Maybe we like those exciting finishes. I am quite sure it gives some fans some heart attacks, and I am pretty sure there have been a couple of TVs in New York City thrown out some windows. But everything that has happened from Week 1 to Week 16 would be forgotten if we make the playoffs."

    That means getting a better game from Chad Pennington, who struggled against the Patriots. He threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked three times as he continues to play with a strained right rotator cuff.

    Playing in a dome should help his shoulder, and so should playing against a defense not nearly as good as the Patriots'. The game also is important for offensive coordinator Paul Hackett, who has come under increased scrutiny.

    The Jets have been inconsistent the entire season. Two weeks ago against Seattle, they scored 37 points. Last week, their total dropped by 30.

    "We feel like we need to set the tempo," Pennington said. "We face an explosive offense and the best way to defend them is to keep them off the field. But at the same time, what good teams do, is if it doesn't go well in the beginning, they don't just fall out and go to the wayside. They find ways to get back into the game and finish strong. That is what we have to be able to do if things don't go our way right off the bat."

    If the Jets lose, they'll make the playoffs if Denver or Buffalo loses. Though his team's entire season rides on one game, Edwards would rather be in this situation than last season's, when the Jets finished 6-10 and played a meaningless game to close out a dismal year.

    "I promised myself when I left this stage last year, I wasn't getting in that situation again," Edwards said. "Not this year. I wasn't doing that to the players, and I wasn't doing that to the coaches. We're in a pretty good situation. All we've got to do is win a game."

Related Topics


  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Jets Need a Win to Assure Playoff Spot
    by DJRamFan
    AP Sports Writer

    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- The New York Jets started 5-0, something no other team in franchise history has done.

    And still, they may not make the playoffs. The Jets must win at St. Louis on Sunday to assure themselves of a wild-card berth in the AFC. If they lose, they need help to make it in the postseason.

    The Jets (10-5) have failed to clinch thanks to poor performances in big games, including a 23-7 loss to New England in which they could not muster much of anything. Now they find themselves in a familiar spot.

    In 2001 and 2002, when the Jets made the playoffs under coach Herman Edwards, they needed victories in their regular-season finales to advance to the postseason.

    "It seems like our team likes these situations," Chad Pennington said. "We like drama. We have definitely created a bunch of it."

    The Jets had a chance to clinch a spot with a victory over New England, but the game spun out of control quickly. After controlling the ball for most of the first quarter, the Jets had no points to show for it. But the Patriots did not make the same mistakes.

    New England led 13-0 at halftime, and the Jets were all but out of it. They had to rely on the pass in the second half, which led to a season-low in yards rushing with 46. They also tied for second-lowest total plays with 57, and had a paltry 279 yards of total offense.

    To avoid the embarrassment of failing to reach the postseason after such a strong start, all the Jets need to do is win. But if they lose, there might be trouble. They can still make it with a loss, coupled with a loss by either Buffalo or Denver.

    But if Buffalo beats Pittsburgh, Denver beats Indianapolis and the Jets lose, New York would miss the playoffs because the Bills hold the edge over their division rival based on common opponents.

    "We have the upper hand. All we have to do is win a game," Edwards said. "That should be your mind-set. I'm not going to rant and rave and do a pep rally and do a cheerleading drill. These guys are professionals. They know where they are at in this season."

    Some of them also know how it is to go into the final game of the season needing a victory. In 2001, the Jets needed to win at Oakland, a place that caused them problems.

    And they did. John Hall kicked a 52-yard field goal and the Jets made it to the first round, where they promptly lost to the Raiders. In 2002, the Jets overcame a 1-4 start and needed some help plus a win over Green Bay in the final to make the postseason.

    The help worked out. New England beat Miami, and the Jets trounced Green Bay 41-0 to give them the AFC East.

    "If you look at the last couple of times we've gotten to the playoffs, it's always down...
    -01-01-2005, 03:13 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Edwards knows it's one or Gang's done
    by DJRamFan
    Herm Edwards certainly isn't coaching for his job on Sunday, or for a championship. But this will be his early signature game at St. Louis, the sort of contest that will define his first four seasons here in New York.

    It's simple, really, and Edwards keeps saying so. The Jets win against a flawed defensive unit and they will be 11-5, a playoff team for the third time in four years. Maybe they aren't an elite club yet or haven't set the world on fire since November. Maybe their quarterback is still searching for the old magic, nursing a sore arm and fiddling clumsily with his public posture.

    But the franchise has never before been to the postseason three of four times, and if Edwards pulls this off then the reservoir of good will spills over the banks. Everybody likes Edwards: His owner, who gave him a two-year extension last year through 2007. His players. The fans. The media.

    He is the anti-Coughlin in this way. Everybody is lined up, always hoping he succeeds. But Edwards needs to add some consistent winning to the resume, or he will never be Bill Parcells or Joe Torre around here. The Jets must show they can go out and win an important game, again, the way they did at the end of the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

    Again, this is no great trade secret. Edwards met with the team yesterday, showed them a few ugly highlights from Sunday's game, and then told them they've run out of time and excuses. They can't hope that Denver or Buffalo loses this weekend, against opponents who don't care. Even if it turns out that way, the Jets shouldn't sneak into the playoffs through the side door.

    "We don't need charity," Edwards insisted yesterday. "You want to win going into the playoffs."

    That was about it, though, with the speeches. Edwards said he wasn't going to "rant and rave." No pep rally. He wouldn't dwell on the disheartening, systemic failure against New England. He applied football's famous 24-hour rule, the law that says anything more than a day old doesn't mean a thing.

    The NFL is about immediate gratification. Edwards knows what this next Sunday is about. If the Jets lose in the dome, if they don't even make the playoffs, then this season officially will have become a mess.

    The Jets can talk all they want about the 10 victories, about double digits, about being in a tough conference and in a division with the Patriots. If they lose this game on Sunday, they will have thrown away a 5-0 start that was built on fragile victories of eight points or less. They surely will fire their offensive coordinator, Paul Hackett, who may be a goner anyway.

    Hackett's offense is supposed to be terribly predictable against some teams, the good ones. Funny thing about that: Most offensive coordinators have problems with these very same defenses.

    But there are problems, that's clear. There have...
    -12-28-2004, 09:58 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Backs against wall for 3rd time
    by DJRamFan
    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...
    -12-28-2004, 09:59 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Jets refuel on fiery speeches
    by DJRamFan
    Veterans, then Herm, Ram playoff message


    Herm Edwards delivers stirring address looking to get his Jets off the ground.

    Facing the crucible of a season-defining finale, the Jets turned up the heat yesterday at Weeb Ewbank Hall. Their meeting room became an emotional inferno. Times two.
    Herman Edwards, trying to rally his team from a demoralizing loss to the Patriots, delivered one of his vintage pep talks. Ordinarily, he's the only motivational speaker needed on the premises. But, on this day, the coach was preceded by a rare players-only meeting in which at least three veterans addressed the team, according to several players.

    Before Edwards arrived, Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin and Terrell Buckley spoke. In essence, they tried to convey a sense of urgency and hope, imploring their teammates to forget the New England meltdown and seize the moment. There was some tough talk, too. "There was a lot of fire, and not necessarily all of it came from Herm, either," said LaMont Jordan, summarizing the oratory events of the day. "The players in the locker room have a lot of fire built up in us that we want to let out once we get to St. Louis."

    The Jets (10-5) finish the regular season Sunday in St. Louis, where they meet the Rams (7-8) in a game loaded with playoff implications. The Jets clinch an AFC wild-card berth with a victory; the Rams need a win and some help to claim a spot in the NFC playoffs.

    It didn't have to be this stressful for the Jets, but they blew it on Sunday with a no-show against the Patriots. Martin isn't a speech-giving kind of guy, but he was so galled by the performance that he decided to speak up. "It was much-needed," he said of the players-only meeting. "We had a disgusting game last week. It was so glaringly disgusting that you couldn't just sweep it under the carpet.

    "As a leader, I feel responsible. As leaders, we take ownership of this team. I'm watching film of that game and I'm thinking, 'That's my team out there, playing like that.' I had to say something. I guess Chad felt the same way."

    Pennington said he wanted to remind the team it still has a wonderful opportunity. "It's important, through all the negativity, to understand we still control our own destiny," he said. "Through all the chaos that has surrounded our team, like losing to the elite teams, we still put ourselves in position to make the playoffs and we can still play for the championship."

    Players-only meetings happen maybe once or twice a year. Some players are cynical, saying they have no effect. Jordan said "the difference between this meeting and the other meetings is you could kind of feel the aura in the room - a positive aura."

    But he added, "All this talk,...
    -12-30-2004, 01:14 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Suddenly shaky Pennington
    by DJRamFan
    Chad Pennington quickly has reached a defining moment in his career.

    He will either guide the Jets into the playoffs with a big game against a bad Rams team or, after presiding over their first 5-0 start, be held accountable for the biggest collapse/choke in team history.

    "I'm like a volcano inside," Pennington said yesterday. "Sunday can't get here fast enough."

    The tension was evident in the locker room on a day the Jets followed the handbook for teams in crisis and held an obligatory players-only meeting. They've been going at this non-stop since the end of July and now for the fourth time in the last five seasons, their playoff fate will be decided on the season's final day. After not losing until Oct. 24 then sitting in great shape at 9-3, a team meeting to fire each other up was not supposed to be on the agenda. Neither was a potential single-elimination season finale.

    But these are the Jets. So nothing ever comes easy.

    Pennington is only 2-2 since coming back from his shoulder injury. He played horribly in the December losses to Pittsburgh and New England with one touchdown and five interceptions as the Jets scored only 13 points. Suddenly it was appropriate to wonder if he will ever be an elite quarterback.

    "I feel good," he said. "I'm not down on myself. I don't doubt myself at all."

    This has been a difficult few weeks for the $64 million QB. He admits it's been the most "challenging" time of his career. Two years ago, he was Joe Montana coming down the stretch. This year he's been Joe Pisarcik.

    "Every game is a defining moment," Pennington said. "I'm excited about it. But you know what? I can't talk about it. I just got to go do it."

    Reputations are made or destroyed in season-deciding games. Pennington's career was set to take off after he carried the Jets into the playoffs two years ago. But he's since gone backwards. Now, so much is at stake for him in St. Louis.

    "It's a hump game. Get over the hump," he said. "It's a hump game for me to play well in a big situation and perform well and win."

    If the Jets win, they get to 11-5, tying the second-most regular-season victories in their 45 years. If they lose, they still get in the playoffs with a Bills or Broncos loss, but they're out if they lose and the Bills and Broncos win. They don't want to back in.

    So, what happens Sunday? The Jets will beat the Rams and Pennington will play like he did against Seattle.

    It's evident the Jets can't yet play with the big boys of the NFL. The Patriots are better than them. So are the Steelers. Probably the Colts, too. When the Jets step up in class, they can't handle it. But they...
    -12-30-2004, 01:15 PM