2010-01-01 / Sports

Pro Spotlight: Jets Have Final Chance To Make Playoff Waves

By Elio Velez

RB Thomas Jones has rushed for 1324 yards this season. Photo by Michael Delgado. RB Thomas Jones has rushed for 1324 yards this season. Photo by Michael Delgado. Giants Stadium will be put out to pasture this year and torn down to become a new parking lot for the new stadium rising next door.

The 34-year old football stadium, did not get the nice sendoff it wanted when the main tenant New York Giants were destroyed in their final home game by the Carolina Panthers, 41-9, last Sunday afternoon.

But the actual closing of the Meadowlands might have a happy ending if the other tenant, the New York Jets (8-7), can pull off a holiday miracle and win over the Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) Sunday night to make the AFC playoffs.

“Every team wants to be in the situation where you control your own destiny. Obviously, everybody would like to be where the Colts are, to have the No. 1 seed secured. But to have the opportunity to actually play the last game of the season, the last regular season game, with everything riding on it in front of your fans, I think most teams would take that, would sign up for that opportunity,” Ryan said.

“That’s where we’re at right now. We’ll be the fifth seed. If we win the game, we’re the fifth seed. If we don’t win, we’re out. That’s the math that I can figure out.”

The Jets have gotten plenty of miracles throughout December. As they lost to the Falcons two weeks ago in the Meadowlands, Jets coach Rex Ryan in the ensuing press conference declared their playoff chase was over.

Then at the end of the day on June 20, five teams competing for two of the wild card spots lost. The Jets were alive, and got another break when Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell pulled Peyton Manning in the third quarter with the team leading 15-10.

The Jets comeback 29-15 win put a darkcloud over the Colts now ended quest to remain undefeated. But it gave Gang Green a lifeline, which they must take advantage with a win over a Bengals team that already secured a home field berth for the wild card.

Jets RB Thomas Jones can’t believe what’s happened the last few weeks.

“We have a great opportunity in front of us. It’s so funny how things can change in a week in this League. Last week after the Atlanta game guys were obviously upset and frustrated about the opportunity that we didn’t take advantage of,” Jones said.

The Jets leading rusher is grateful for the circumstances that’s shined on his team.

“We came into the team meeting the next day and found out, ‘Hey, we’re still in this thing if we take care of our business.’ The first step was to win yesterday, which is what we did. We know what is ahead of us on Sunday. Guys are excited about the opportunity; excited about the chances that we have.”

Now past history shows that even when the Jets have a chance to be prosperous, it never turns out that way. Look back at the Dan Marino fake spike in 1994 and the regular season collapse of last year as times the Jets failed to capitalize on their opportunities.

The Bengals though provide an opportunity as they most likely will not play QB Carson Palmer and host of other starters. Palmer is the notable one who might miss out on the Jets as Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis may rest his QB for the first round of the playoffs.

If the Jets win, the Bengals will most likely see them again in Cincinnati on Sunday for a rematch.

It’s all or nothing for the Jets, who need to run the ball, continue to play stellar defense and not make any mistakes. Now is not the time for the Jets to remember any past mistakes their predecessors have done.

Since the Giants have been eliminated, the Jets have an opportunity to step up and at least get the city’s attention for at least the next few weeks. Starting with a win on Sunday’s and clinching a playoff spot would be a headline maker.

“I told everybody the truth, what I felt to be the truth, and I thought we had a good football team,” Ryan said. “I think we’re built to be a team that can win in December and January, and I still feel that way. I think we would be a very dangerous team if we make the playoffs.”

New York Jets guard Alan Faneca, center Nick Mangold and CB Darrelle Revis were elected to the AFC Roster for the NFL Pro Bowl to be held on January 31 in Miami, a week before the Super Bowl.

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