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INSIDER TUESDAY TEAM REPORT

By Dan Powell
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 26th, 2006
Although the Jets players had a well deserved day off on Tuesday following their gritty Monday night win over their bitter division rival Dolphins, Head Coach Eric Mangini and his staff were back to work at Weeb Ewbank Hall today. At his presser this afternoon with the NY media, Mangini reflected on the victory and now shifts focus to the important task of beating Oakland and clinching an improbable playoff spot.

Quarterback Chad Pennington led the way last night with one of his vintage performances. The numbers, just 14 of 29 passing for 237 yards and a touchdown, weren’t all that pretty but Pennington managed the game and made plays when he needed to and helped lift the Jets to 9-6 on the season and onto the doorstep of the postseason.

“We didn’t have any rain this week but we had some exposure to that before the New England game then in New England,” head coach Eric Mangini said of Pennington’s performance in the tough weather. “I thought the throws he made to McCareins then the touchdown pass to Jerricho early in the second half were big. I thought Chad responded well.”

The Jets certainly had some sloppy moments with four fumbles, including a botched field goal attempt, in the game. However, the Jets lost just one of those fumbles and made few mistakes, committing just one penalty all game.

While the ground attack struggled with just 95 yards on 30 carries, rookie running back Leon Washington found other ways to contribute with four receptions for 108 yards, including a huge screen play that went for 64 yards bringing the Jets down to the Miami 16-yard line with a minute and 54 seconds left in the game. The play ultimately set up a 30-yard field goal by kicker Mike Nugent with 10 seconds left that proved to be the game-winner.

“It was a tough game, tough place to play, tough weather conditions against a team that’s been playing good football,” Mangini said. “I liked the way the team responded together to adversity and then Mike had a great kick there to seal the game at the end.”

Still, Mangini’s mantra of finishing rings truest this week, as Gang Green must continue to focus and work hard in the last week of the regular season. If they can do that, they won’t have to wait until mini-camp to suit up again.

“This is definitely an exciting time of year for us but our approach will stay the same,” the rookie head coach said. “We need to take care of what’s in front of us and what’s in front of us is the Oakland Raiders.”

INSIDER TIDBITS

-The Jets are currently the #6 seed in the playoff rankings and if the season ends with the same seedings they will travel to Indianapolis to play the #3 seed Colts. Indy dropped in the seedings from #2 this week due to their loss against the Texans on Sunday.

-Although it’s unlikely, if the Jets lose against Oakland, they still could make the playoffs but would need a lot of help. One of these scenarios would need to occur:
-A Cincinnati loss or tie and a Jacksonville loss or tie.
-or, a Cincinnati loss or tie and a Tennessee win.
-or, Denver loss and a Jacksonville loss.

-Washington and Nugent earned player of the week honors on offense and special teams, respectively, for their big contributions late in the fourth quarter. Linebacker and captain Jonathan Vilma was the defensive player of the week while offensive/defensive lineman Matt McChesney was named the practice player of the week.

-WR Laveranues Coles, who took some vicious hits during the game last night appeared fine in the locker room after the game and although he is likely very sore today, don’t expect him to miss any time.

-Mangini acknowledged that cornerback Andre Dyson, who suffered an apparent knee injury in the second half of last night’s game, is a little banged up but said further information will not be released until Wednesday’s injury report.

-The 35-year-old rookie head coach acknowledged that he is proud of some of the things his team has done this year, regardless of the ultimate outcome.

“The way I’ve looked at it is I’ve appreciated the way these guys have worked since the offseason programs into training camp and through the season,” Mangini said of his team. “To me, that’s what I’m most proud of; the progress we’ve made and the work ethic these guys have had.”

-With every Jets win, Mangini's name has been mentioned more and more as a possible Coach of the Year candidate and the job he's done turning around a team that was 4-12 last season is nothing short of remarkable. However, insiders say that New Orleans Coach Sean Payton will likely get the honor due to the Saints winning their division and the other extenuating circumstances regarding New Orleans and hurricane Katrina.

-There was some talk last week that due to the NFL's flex scheduling that the Jets-Oakland game on Sunday might be moved to the 8:15PM slot however, it was confirmed today that the game will remain at 1PM.

The team goes back to it’s normal Wednesday schedule tomorrow as they begin preparation for the Oakland Raiders. Be sure to check back to JI for a complete report!

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