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Backs against the wall
By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 27th, 2004
The Jets did not want to be in this situation. They hoped to clinch a playoff berth yesterday in their home finale against New England. Instead, the Jets got embarrassed in a 23-7 loss to the Patriots. The team made their reflections on the loss today and will now focus on beating the Rams this Sunday and making the playoffs.

The Jets did not want to be in this situation. They hoped to clinch a playoff berth yesterday in their home finale against New England. Instead, the Jets got embarrassed in a 23-7 loss to the Patriots. The team made their reflections on the loss today and will now focus on beating the Rams this Sunday and making the playoffs.

All the preparation and hard work since July now comes down to the final week of the regular season at St. Louis. If the Jets win, they will lock up a wild card spot. They can also make the playoffs if Buffalo loses to Pittsburgh or Denver loses to Indianapolis. Pittsburgh and Indianapolis are both locked into their playoff positioning and are expected to rest most of their starters on Sunday.

Jets head coach Herman Edwards said the Jets want to take their destiny into their own hands.

“We don’t really want any help,” Edwards said. “We want to win the game. Charity is for people that need it. We don’t need it. We need to go win. If we don’t, then we don’t deserve to get in. We want to win going into the playoffs.”

The Rams host Philadelphia tonight and if the Rams win, they will also be fighting for a playoff spot next week.

Besides having the opportunity to clinch a playoff berth yesterday, the Jets had a chance to prove that they belonged in the upper echelon teams in the NFL.

They were not able to do so, turning the ball over four times, and WR Justin McCareins talked about why there’s a gap between the Jets and teams like New England and Pittsburgh.

“It just seems that like the winning teams not only have our number, but we are not coming out as fired up and swinging the first punch like we would against other teams,” McCareins said. “I think we need to believe in ourselves a little bit more and believe in the quality players that we have on this team.”

The Jets offense only put up seven points against New England and McCareins talked about the reason why.

“All positions, we weren’t executing,” McCareins said. “We need to execute on what we worked on all week and we overall just didn’t get it done.”

QB Chad Pennington completed 22-of-36 passes for 252 passes, a TD and threw two costly interceptions. Pennington still felt good throwing the football.

“The only one I felt like I didn’t make the throw as far as everything being laid out there in front of me was the out-route to Santana right before the half, it went low,” Pennington said. “Other than that, I felt pretty good throwing the football.”

The Jets offense has been able to be effective against teams like Seattle, putting up 37 points. But against teams like Pittsburgh and New England, the Jets have struggled putting points on the board.

“They are so aggressive on defense, that what you don’t want to do is get careless with the ball,” Edwards said about why the Jets offense has struggled against the Steelers and Patriots. “That can make you play a little different at times. For most part, we haven’t done a good job.”

So now the Jets are in a position all too familiar with this franchise. Win the last game of the regular season and get into the playoffs.

S Jon McGraw said the Jets have to take a playoff mentality into Sunday’s game.

“You have to,” McGraw said. “Both teams, the win is going to decide who keeps playing and who doesn’t. In this organization, the team that Herm has had here the last few years, has always done well with our backs against the wall in big games.”

“It seems like our team likes these situations; we like drama,” Pennington said. “We have definitely created a bunch of it. Once we step back on the field on Wednesday, we will pick up our attitude, we will be excited about our potential and our opportunity.”

Edwards talked about the mindset of his players heading into the Rams game.

“They have to execute and believe they will win the game,” Edwards said. “It’s very simple. You either go to the playoffs or go home. That should be the mindset. I shouldn’t have to set that. If I have to set that, that’s not good. These guys know what they have to accomplish. Have to go on road and win a game.”

INJURY REPORT: According to Edwards, DE John Abraham is questionable. The team does not have to issue an official injury report until Wednesday, the first day of practice of the week. Edwards said Abraham will try to run later this week, which should give the Jets an indication of where he’s at. Abraham talked about his progress today. “I’m walking better,” Abraham said. “I’m feeling more comfortable. My goal is to be back for the first playoff game.” Besides Abraham, the Jets are healthy and have no others listed on the injury report.

The Jets will travel to St. Louis to face the Rams next Sunday. Check back often to Jets Insider.com for all the latest team news and reports as the Jets prepare for QB Marc Bulger and the Rams.