Pivotal Game
By John Melillo
Jets, Staff Writer
December 22nd, 2004
This week’s clash with the division rival New England Patriots has monumental value for the New York Jets as they look to clinch a postseason berth with a victory at the Meadowlands on Sunday. Coach Herm Edwards addressed the importance of the game and the challenge the Patriots present.

This week’s clash with the division rival New England Patriots has monumental value for the New York Jets as they look to clinch a postseason berth with a victory at the Meadowlands on Sunday. Coach Herm Edwards addressed the importance of the game and the challenge the Patriots present.

"If we have playoff aspirations, we need to win games like (Sunday’s game),” Edwards said. “(A win) does a lot for our team. It clinches a playoff berth and it improves us to 7-1 at home this year.”

While the Jets are riding high following their convincing 37-14 win over the Seattle Seahawks last week, the Patriots unusually suffered a bump in the road, losing to the hapless Miami Dolphins 29-28 on Monday night. In that game, Pats QB Tom Brady threw four interceptions, one of which was a poor decision in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

“I’m sure Brady will be at his best when he comes (to the Meadowlands),” Edwards said. “That interception (at the end) is not what he’s about. Very uncharacteristic of him.”

Edwards stressed how a successful team like the Patriots will look to rebound the following week.

“I know they’ll be fired up to win,” Edwards said. “It was obviously a tough loss and very uncharacteristic of them. It’s obviously a big game because if we win; we’re in the playoffs.”

Edwards noted what makes the Patriots a perennial winner each year.

“They’re a well-coached team and a difficult opponent. We have to be at our best. They’ve only lost four games in the past two years,” Edwards said. “Their players know how to win. (But) we got to get a win. I’ve been saying that for the past seven weeks.”

One method to defeat the Patriots, who have defeated the Jets the past three meetings, is to capitalize on turnovers, according to Edwards.

“We need to make the most of our opportunities,” said Edwards. “We need to be able to adjust. We need to capitalize on turnovers because that’s what good teams do and we can’t give the ball away.”

Pennington admits they let a prime opportunity slip away in their first meeting with New England in October.

“I think we have to finish,” Pennington said. We played really well in first half. We had an opportunity and they made the plays. (Since then) we’ve learned how to play 60 minutes.”

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS: Edwards addressed the meltdown by QB Chad Pennington for this final time this morning. “It’s done and over,” Edwards said. “He will learn from it. He’s always honest and straightforward. We all make mistakes. It probably was not the right thing to do. I can guarantee you, it won’t happen again in his career.” Following the Seattle victory, Pennington brushed off the media and bashed them Monday for their coverage of the club.

During Sunday’s halftime ceremony, the Jets will honor former DL Joe Klecko when they retire his No. 73 jersey. Klecko, who became the first player in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl at three different positions (DE, DT, NT), discussed the honor during a press conference this afternoon. “For the Jets to come and recognize me after all these years, I’m beside myself.” Klecko will be the third New York Jet to have his number retired (QB Joe Namath and WR Don Maynard).

-Jets Insider has learned that, as of now, the Jets will have three representatives in the Pro Bowl. Those players will be DE John Abraham, C Kevin Mawae and RB Curtis Martin.

-LB Eric Barton was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in Week 15 versus the Seattle Seahawks. Barton registered nine tackles, one sack, one interception, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in the game.

-The Jets have impressively recorded seven second-half shutouts this season. In a conference call with the NY media this morning, Patriots coach Bill Belichick commended Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson’s unit this year. “They do a great job of game planning and in their execution. They use a lot of elements of the Baltimore (Ravens) system.”

With a rash of injuries decimating their secondary, the Patriots have employed WR Troy Brown in their nickel and dime packages this season. Jets coach Herm Edwards praised Brown for an admirable effort in an unfamiliar role. “He’s done a good job for the time he’s played corner,” Edwards said. “He’s intercepted some passes for them. He usually covers the slot guy.”

-Veteran WR Wayne Chrebet could enjoy a breakout game if he can take advantage of the inexperienced Brown, particularly on third downs. Edwards addressed the notion that Chrebet, who only has five receptions in the past five games, has been unproductive this season. “Teams are bracketing him; others are pushing their zone coverage to him,” Edwards said. “However, on running plays, he has done a great job of blocking.”

-The Patriots released LB Justin Kurpeikis and ex-Jet S Omare Lowe today. Lowe played two games with Gang Green last year, but was among the final cuts in preseason.

INJURY REPORT: Edwards stated DE John Abraham (knee) would attempt to jog today to test his knee injury. As reported, Abraham has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game. LB Victor Hobson (ankle), who has been sidelined with a high ankle sprain, is listed as probable this week and Edwards anticipates he will play. Only Abraham and Hobson are listed on the team’s official injury report.

-DE John Abraham (knee): Out
-LB Victor Hobson (ankle): Probable

The Jets host their final home game of the season this Sunday as the New England Patriots come to the Meadowlands. Check back to Jets often throughout the week for all the latest information leading up to the Jets/Patriots clash.