2007-01-05 / Sports

Jets' Coleman Springs To Wild Card Clash

By Elio Velez


Two Jets fans give their approval to head coach Eric Mangini as he helped lead the Jets to the NFL playoffs. Photo By Peter Borriello.Two Jets fans give their approval to head coach Eric Mangini as he helped lead the Jets to the NFL playoffs. Photo By Peter Borriello. Erik Coleman of the New York Jets visited IS 323's Scholars Academy last spring as part of the NFL's National Fitness Program. The kids were happy with his visit to the school and Coleman said that day he was sure that his participation was the right step in helping children to remain fit.

When Coleman was asked about what to expect from then recently hired head coach Eric Mangini's new regime, he said the right things. It was an optimistic response but even he wasn't sure of what exactly might happen. But not even Coleman expected the results that the Jets have done this season.

Nine months later, his teammates defied the low expectations critics had for Gang Green and clinched a wild card playoff berth on New Year's Eve with a 23-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

The Jets kept to their goal of making the playoffs by not underestimating the lowly 2-14 Raiders.

"It feels great. You put in all of the work in the offseason, you work so hard during the season and in training camp," Coleman said after the game. "You keep your head down and keep grinding and then you come out and you're in the playoffs."

The fifth round draft pick from Washington State had started at free safety for most of his first two years in the league under former head coach Herman Edwards.

Starting slowly out of the gate in preseason, Coleman's workmanlike attitude and consistency eventually got him reinserted into the starting lineup in Week 3. Finishing fourth on the defensive side with 101 tackles, he also made a big interception in the 17-14 win at New England on November 12.

And he'll be expected to make another contribution for the third time against the Patriots in Foxboro starting at 1 p.m. (CBS) on Sunday.

Vividly remembering the wild atmosphere at Giants Stadium hours before the ball was dropped at Times Square, Coleman would like to keep the Jets fans just as happy this week.

"It was like nothing else. It was electric from the beginning. We came out for warm-ups and people are all fired up and excited. It felt good to have them behind us and finish well for them and finish the season on a strong note," says Coleman.

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