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Jets shift focus to Pittsburgh

By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
January 9th, 2005
The Jets got back from San Diego early this morning after yesterday’s 20-17 overtime victory in the AFC Wildcard game. The team did not have much time to savor their victory as they now have to focus on the Pittsburgh Steelers who they will face on Saturday.

The Jets got back from San Diego early this morning after yesterday’s 20-17 overtime victory in the AFC Wildcard game. The team did not have much time to savor their victory as they now have to focus on the Pittsburgh Steelers who they will face on Saturday.

QB Chad Pennington was outstanding in the win over the Chargers, completing 23-of-33 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Jets head coach Herman Edwards talked about Pennington’s performance.

“I thought Chad had one of his best days in a while, threw the ball really well,” Edwards said.

Edwards was not surprised by Pennington’s strong performance as Pennington had a solid week of practice.

“Just his confidence, just his air about what he wanted to do, and really not trying to be so perfect, but just throw it, just go ahead and throw it and don't worry about it, and just go have fun,” Edwards said. “Have a smile on your face and have fun. And I thought he did that during the course of the week. As I told you, when we were preparing, I told you guys that Wednesday, I said he had his best week in three weeks. And I had a feeling he was going to play well.”

The offense overall played well, racking up 396 total yards. Edwards praised the job offensive coordinator Paul Hackett did.

“I thought he did a good job,” Edwards said. “He mixed it up. He got the players involved. That was the whole key, to get the players involved early, the guys that can make plays. And I thought he did with that Santana (Moss). He did that with Justin (McCareins). He got LaMont (Jordan) in the game. And those guys, you know, got it going. Curtis (Martin) is always going to make a play or two. But I thought, you know, he created formations that gave them problems. He took advantage of some guys that we felt we could go at.”

The Jets defense did a nice job as well, and held Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson to 80 yards rushing, the third straight time he has been held to under 100 yards against the Jets.

“The defense did a good job against a real potent offense,” Edwards said.

So now the Jets prepare to head to Pittsburgh for the second time this season, as they lost to the Steelers, 17-6 on December 12.

In that game, Pennington threw three interceptions. The Jets were tied at three with the Steelers heading into the fourth quarter before they let the Steelers score 14 fourth quarter points.

The Steelers finished the regular season 15-1 and clinched the #1 seed in the AFC. They are led by rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger, who has thrown for 2,621 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

Edwards is impressed by Roethlisberger. “I think the guy has great poise and presence,” the HC said.

Edwards talked about the key to winning on the road.

“I think for us, we always understand our mindset when we go on the road is no different,” Edwards said. “We always say, ‘Take the crowd out of the game early.’ If you can just keep the crowd at bay, don't let the home team get an advantage on you and score points on you early, you take 'em out. And we always have that mindset when he go on the road.”

Edwards is not worried about the Jets being tired.

“We don't really worry about that,” Edwards said. “I just think that at the end of the day, our guys will be rested enough to play, and to play well. And we won't ever use ‘we didn't get enough rest’ as an excuse. That's what happens when you go in as a wildcard team, you know you're going to travel. You know you're going to be on the road. That's why is harder to do it. That's what makes it kind of fun, too.”

Edwards talked about the pressure in the playoffs.

“The pressure's on everyone all of a sudden,” Edwards said. “It's not like your wins that you had in the season help you. It starts from zero to zero, and all of a sudden that's a lot of pressure, unless you've played in that situation. If you've been a player that's played in playoff games, I know that feeling, I know that feeling as a coach. It's a different psyche, it's entirely different.”

MISCELANEOUS TIDBITS: During yesterday’s game, Edwards was seen in a heated exchange with RB coach Bishop Harris as the men had to be separated. Edwards said everything is smoothed over. “We hugged and made up,” Edwards said. “But it's a family feud. Obviously, it was a family matter. It was, hey, playoffs. The other side came out of me, the side that I have in me at times. I guess it shocked a lot of people to see. I got a lot of calls on that. But there's another side to me that sometimes comes out every once in a while.”

-Rookie CB Derrick Strait hasn’t played much recently but yesterday was used as the nickel back. Edwards was happy with his performance. “He did a good job,” Edwards said. “He really did. He good did a good job of playing in there. The last couple weeks he's been practicing in there. Donnie (Henderson) and those guys felt, let's just get him in the game. Why not. Let's throw him in the playoff game and see how he reacts. He was excited. He's been pacing the sidelines for the last couple weeks wanting to play. So we got him in the game and he did a good job.”

INJURY REPORT: There were no new injuries from yesterday’s game. DE John Abraham (knee) and WR Wayne Chrebet (concussion) both did not play yesterday and are probable. Special team ace Kenyatta Wright (ankle) played yesterday but is still sore and is probable as well.

Edwards said he expects Abraham to practice again this week and that it will probably be a game-time decision. “He wasn't a hundred percent, you know,” Edwards said. “The thing is, he doesn't have to have surgery on it, and that's the great thing. What we don't want to do is have a setback where all of a sudden he does something and he has to have surgery. That's no good. So I just think at this point, he had a significant injury.”

Edwards said Chrebet wanted to play but Edwards decided against it. “I would anticipate Wayne will be ready this week,” Edwards said. “And that was more my call than Wayne's. It's just I didn't feel good about it. I had a long talk with Wayne. It was hard for me to do that. But at that point in time, I just told him, I said, ‘Just hang in there. You're going to get an opportunity. We're going to play next week. So you just get well and next week we'll be able to play.’”

-DE John Abraham (knee): Probable
-WR Wayne Chrebet (concussion): Probable
-LB Kenyatta Wright (ankle): Probable

The Jets had off today and tomorrow before returning to practice on Tuesday. The team will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the 15-1 Steelers on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Stay tuned to Jets Insider.com throughout the week for all the news and information leading up the clash between the Jets and Steelers in the second round of the NFL Playoffs!

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