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Playing With House Money
By Christopher Falvo
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
January 13th, 2005
The Jets need to put rookie QB Ben Rothlisberger on the turf this Saturday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets need to put rookie QB Ben Rothlisberger on the turf this Saturday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
HEMPSTEAD, NY - Is there anyone, not including the overly optimistic Jets fan, that gives the Jets a chance this Saturday versus the Pittsburgh Steelers?

No one gave them a snowball's chance in hell last week against the San Diego Chargers. So why would it be any different this time around?

The Jets backed into the playoffs, losers of three of their last four- all to playoff teams. The Jets have an offensive coordinator who tightens up like a ducks behind in water in a big spot, a head coach who lacks the ability to manage a game and a quarterback with no arm. So I ask again, does anyone give the Jets a chance this week?

If this is the hand the Jets were dealt, then to quote Jim Fassel, I'm putting all my chips in the middle of the table.

Despite Jets Coach Herman Edwards denying it during his press conference on Tuesday, this is house money folks. That's what the Jets are playing with this week. There's no pressure on the Jets, who last time they played Pittsburgh were simply worn out by the running game. If the Steelers don't win this game, at home, coming of 14 straight wins, it may go down as one of the biggest upsets in league history.

Of all the underdogs in this weeks round of the divisional playoffs the Jets have to be the least likely to win. But that doesn't mean you should count them out. The Jets play too tough to be overlooked and could be a mere quarter away from really catching fire. And with nothing to lose Paul Hackett, Herman Edwards, Donnie Henderson should be pulling out all the stops to help ignite this team to victory.

Its up to Hackett and Chad Pennington to score early and often. The Jets must be able to control the tempo of the game, and not by running the ball. They must force the ball away from the Steelers ground attack and into the hands of quarterback Ben Rothlisberger. While the rookie has passed all tests with flying colors, this is the playoffs and everything is kicked up a notch.

The Jets have to play fast and free on offense as they did against the Seattle Seahawks. No one expects them to put up more than 17 points and that's a stretch being they scored a total of 20 points in three games versus the AFC's top two teams. Chad must get it deep at least twice in the first quarter to loosen up the Steelers defense and take the eighth man out of the box.

The next key is the tight ends. Both Chris Baker and Anthony Becht have been so invisible over the past month, minus Becht's 13-yard touchdown catch last week, that most teams probably think the Jets play with 10 men on passing downs. Getting these two involved, even if it's two or three catches a piece will keep the safety's honest up the seam and open up the deep route for Santana Moss.

The Jets must also find ways to keep Curtis Martin and LaMont Jordan in the game at the same time. Maybe more pro-sets or, like they did last week, use one as a slot receiver. And instead of the patented Hackett draw, how about some swing passes. Lets try to get these guys the same amount of touches without having to run into the heart of the defense.

This game should be a coordinators dream. With no expectations, the play books should be wide open. We should see deep balls, flee flickers, blitzes, reverses, fourth down conversions and more blitzes. The Jets should be coming from so many different angles, on both offense and defense, that the Steelers don't know where to look next. They should be on their toes and attack at all times, settling for nothing less that seven points.

The Jets have nothing to lose. So who cares if you make a few mistakes. Have fun, play hard, and don't hold anything back. The Jets should take a cue from Wayne Chrebet and play down like it's their last.