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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Jets Playoff Coverage#1

Jets Beat writer Tom Rock Leads off our best of the Jets coverage leading up to Sunday's Match up with New England

My Comment at the end:

Why not them?


BY TOM ROCK
Newsday Staff Writer

January 3, 2007

No one came out and said "I told you so," likely because no one had actually said it to begin with. But mixed in with the feelings of elation and joy that pervaded the Jets' locker room following Sunday's playoff-clinching win over the Raiders was a tone of vindication.

"I'm glad I'm not in the business of making predictions," left guard Pete Kendall said of the dire reports many in the media provided at the beginning of the season, prognostications that proved to be quite wrong. "I never took personal offense at what people from the outside said. It seemed, I guess, relatively well thought out. But the perception and the reality that I saw when we got together in August, there was quite a bit of difference. I'm not going to sit here and say that I thought at that point we were a 10-win team, but I knew that what I had read and what I was seeing were two different things."

The Jets trudged through the season, overcoming bad losses to the Browns and Bills, earning emotional wins over the Patriots and Dolphins, and now head into the playoffs. Finally, this team gets some respect.

But then comes the nine-point spread from Vegas, even though the two Jets-Patriots games this season were decided by an average of five points, one of them a Jets win, and five of the last eight meetings were decided by a touchdown or less. Following closely behind are the statistical analyses, pointing out that the Jets are ranked 25th in overall offense, 20th in overall defense and 24th in rushing defense. Then come the backhanded compliments, about how the Jets have had a nice season and it's an accomplishment just to be in the playoffs, but how can they compete with the dynasty Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have forged in New England?

The Jets played 16 games to escape the doomsday predictions that were floated in August, only to emerge and find similar thoughts in January.

"I don't really put much stock in what people from the outside think or say about us," Kendall said. "We know that we control our own destiny, so whether people think we're a one-and-done team or we're going all the way. If we play poorly, we're a one-and-done and if we play well enough, we'll see where it winds up. There's nothing that any talking head or pundit is going to do to affect that."

The Jets may not be putting any weight into the buzz surrounding their wild-card game against the Patriots in Foxborough on Sunday, but they certainly hear it. Whether it rankles them, drives them or amuses them depends on the player.

Tight end Chris Baker said he's pretty sure about the answer most teams would give when asked whether they preferred to play the Jets or the Chiefs, the other AFC wild card.

"People would probably say they'd rather play the Jets, that nothing jumps out at you on film," he said. "They don't do this well, they don't do that well. That's been the perception all year. They're a product of this or that or whatever. I think we had a pretty good year."

Linebacker Matt Chatham has been on the other end of the Rodney Dangerfield scale of respect when he won three Super Bowls with the Patriots. He said the NFL is set up for teams like the Jets to outperform any preseason naysaying.

"This is such an odd league that we have where you can come in and do anything each year," Chatham said. "I know the mentality of this city is tough and expectations might not have been quite as high for us, but any team in the league should have the expectations that they are going to do things until proven otherwise."

Which is why the Jets refuse to believe they don't have a very good chance to win Sunday.

"Why wouldn't we?" receiver Laveranues Coles asked. "When you say we don't have a chance, it's probably the same people who are doubting us. Look at who's saying we don't have a chance. How smart have they been this far?"

Key matchup
Justin Miller vs. Laurence Maroney

One foot. That's how much better the Jets' Justin Miller was than the Patriots' Laurence Maroney when it came to returning kickoffs this season, topping the NFL with a 28.3-yard average compared to the rookie's 28.0. Where Miller separated himself was in touchdowns (he had two, including a 103-yarder) and volume (his 46 returns were fewer than only one other returner whose average was in the top 10). Although Miller hasn't busted one loose since Week 8, he has been steady, averaging 26.0 yards during the second half of the season and 25.7 in the last four games. In what is expected to be a slugfest Sunday, every foot of field position will help. Edge: Jets

Previous matchups:

D'Brickashaw Ferguson vs. Richard Seymour. Edge: Patriots

Reche Caldwell vs. Hank Poteat. Edge: Jets

And my Slant: The Jets are right: Why Not them? if anyone can beat New England, it's the Jets. So why won't the Oddsmakers in Vegas give the Jets any Play? maybe it's because they never give anything away to an east coast team, much less a NY team. I remember SB XXI, and the Vegas Boys were giving the edge to Denver, weather they were close geographically, or everyone loved Elway and Reeves. there was lost of Denver money on that game. I even heard that a few Texas Gamblers who just Despised NY were going with Denver. Guess they losta few oil wells that day. My point is that here goes the oddsmakers again going against a New York Team. If anyone can make it happen like last years Steeler's team,..it's Eric's Genius Jets.

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