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Not Bowing Down
By John Melillo
Jets Insider.com, Staff Writer
December 29th, 2004
The New York Jets playoff lives are in critical condition as a result of their embarrassing and disappointing loss at home versus the Patriots last Sunday. In his press conference this morning, Jets coach Herm Edwards delivered a fiery speech on how this Sunday’s clash with the St. Louis Rams will be good test to gauge the focus and determination of his players.

The New York Jets playoff lives are in critical condition as a result of their embarrassing and disappointing loss at home versus the Patriots last Sunday. In his press conference this morning, Jets coach Herm Edwards delivered a fiery speech on how this Sunday’s clash with the St. Louis Rams will be good test to gauge the focus and determination of his players.

“I’m glad we’re in this situation,” Edwards said in an edgy tone. “This is a good thing. We will find out what type of team we are. It’s good for the players. If we win (this Sunday), its like we won a playoff game. It’s a good situation to be in.”

While those words may sound puzzling from a coach that once fielded a 5-0 team earlier this year, Edwards compared the current situation to last year’s 6-10 debacle.

“If we win a game (this week), it will be 3 out of 4 years we’ll be in the playoffs,” Edwards noted. “I rather go through this than what we’ve been through last year. Last year we were 6-10. But (ending 11-5) - it’s not my expectations. Every year, I expect to win the division and get to the Super Bowl.”

Edwards is most excited about how his club will perform on the road with their playoff lives on the line. Gang Green will battle a St. Louis Rams club that is still fighting for a postseason berth.

“Its even better,” Edwards said of playing on the road. “Its everything you can ask for as a player and coach. You want these moments to find out what type of player you are. You have to go through this (to be successful in the NFL).”

Guard Pete Kendall agreed with Edwards and admits the daunting task the Jets will face this Sunday.

"We are approaching this game as a must-win. But the (St. Louis) fans make it tough to play there," Kendall said. "They do a great job of trying to disrupt the (opposing) offense."

Edwards cited his own personal experience in prospering despite a tough environment that will mirror what the Jets will face this Sunday at the Edwards Jones Dome.

“It presents an environment that is difficult to function in. We have to work for (the win). Its good for you,” Edwards said sternly. “The harder the better. The bigger the bully - the better because life is about a fight. You better go fight. You can’t run inside your home and shut the front door.”

Edwards was then immediately questioned on how he perceived the Pats convincing 23-7 victory last week at the Meadowlands.

(The Pats) came in our house and beat us up,” Edwards said. “(But) it didn’t kill us. We get to play again.”

Nevertheless, when asked if the team is angry about last week’s performance, Edwards instead noted the club’s disappointment with their dismal showing in the final home game of the regular season.

“They’re disappointed, but you’ve got to let it go,” said Edwards. “The good thing about it is we get to play again. That’s what’s grand about this game because you get another chance. You can’t talk about it. You’ve got to be about it. We’ll get to do that Sunday, 12:00, high noon.”

According to RB Curtis Martin, the Jets will redeem themselves in the season finale this Sunday.

“I expect us to show up and play our best game of the season,” Martin said emphatically.

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS: Edwards addressed the widespread criticism aimed at Paul Hackett and the speculation that the team’s offensive coordinator will be fired from his title this offseason. “(Our offense) has been up and down,” Edwards said. “It has to become more consistent. At the end of the year, the evaluation process will begin. (But) it will start with me first.”

-And how has Hackett handled the criticism? “I think he is oblivious to it because he’s in his little shell up there (in the coaches’ box) and he’s doing his deal,” Edwards said. “He does his job.”

-Edwards addressed how he views his team’s talent level and their potential this year. “I’m convinced that we have played at a certain level against certain teams, those (top) echelon teams, where we haven’t quite played up to that level for four quarters. That’s what we have to do if we’re going to beat them,” he said.

-While the media continues to lambaste QB Chad Pennington for his struggles in big games, RB Curtis Martin remains a staunch supporter of the Jets’ starting QB. “Chad’s going to be fine,” Martin said. “I am not worried about Chad because even after a good game, the (criticism) will be there.”

Following practice, Pennington discussed how mentally difficult the past couple of weeks have been for him.

“These last few weeks have been the most challenging of my career,” Pennington said. “I expect there to be more of those in the future. That is what the NFL is all about. There are no easy way outs in the NFL. You have to play in pressure games. They’re hard and tough. Only the mentally tough survive.”

Pennington stressed how anxious he is to put last week’s loss to the Pats behind him and defeat the Rams.

“I’m a volcano,” Pennington said, in a vivid description of his emotional state. “Sunday’s game can’t come fast enough.”

INJURY REPORT: Edwards announced DE John Abraham (knee) was the only player listed on the injury report this week. While Abraham is officially listed as questionable for Sunday, the pass rushing end will not play this Sunday vs. St. Louis. Abraham is expected to participate in a light workout today, as he tests the knee to determine his availability for a possible playoff contest next week.

-DE John Abraham (knee): Out

The Jets will travel to St. Louis to face the Rams this Sunday. The team will resume preparation for St. Louis tomorrow. 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.