(Long Island, N.Y.) To squeak by two of the league’s weakest teams is certainly not cause to beat one’s chest, but the New York Jets have to feel somewhat good about themselves that the word ‘playoffs’ is still in their present vernacular. One more loss in the final three games will in all likelihood spell doom for them and even though they are not playing like a desperate team, all that matters is that they have come away with two consecutive wins when all seemed lost.
Sunday’s 17-10 win at Jacksonville at least had the script that worked for the Jets a few years ago when they kept Mark Sanchez on a tight leash and relied on the running backs to do most of the production. The much-maligned quarterback threw for a mere 111 yards, but only had one turnover with a fumble. Two short yardage touchdown runs (one by Shonn Greene, the other by Bilal Powell) got the team in the end zone and the defense played well enough and were able to stop the punchless Jaguars with an interception in the final minute.
“We knew that if we did our job and they don’t score, they cannot win,” veteran linebacker Bart Scott said. “Our defense played well and it was good to get out of here with a ‘W.'”
Because the other teams ahead of the Jets in the AFC lost, it made the victory that much more important. At 6-7, New York is very much alive for the final wild card spot. It appears that the Indianapolis Colts will be a lock with a 9-4 mark, but it gets murky after that. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals are 7-6, with the former holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Jets.
As far as the schedules go, the Jets have the easiest of the three teams. They stay on the road this week to face the 4-9 Titans, but Tennessee is capable of running the ball all day long against a Jet defense that has had trouble stopping teams on the ground. It will take a near perfect effort to get out of the south with a win.
The San Diego Chargers (5-8) then visit MetLife Stadium in the Jets’ final home game of the season. Things are wrapped up in Buffalo, where the 5-8 Bills may be playing out the string or trying to finish with a .500 record. That may be the key, depending on how things go between now and then.
It borders on the ridiculous to actually be envisioning the Jets making the postseason the way they struggled to beat the now 4-9 Arizona Cardinals, 7-6, in Week 13. This is the same squad that took a 58-0 beating at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks this past week. And the Cards – who have now dropped nine in a row – were playing with who is considered their ‘better’ quarterback, while a 7th round rookie went against the Jets.
But why moan and groan about anything just yet? There will be an entire offseason to do that. We just don’t know when it will officially begin.