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Jets Playoff Report: Headed to Oakland...again
New York Jets Playoff Report
(Sports Network) - Playing a divisional rival twice a year is one thing, but
it's a rarity for conference foes like the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders
to match up so many times in consecutive seasons.
Sunday's second-round playoff affair will mark the fourth time in the last two
seasons that the Jets and Raiders are meeting. In fact, all four of those
games will have taken place at Network Associates Coliseum.
"It is unbelievable, and to think we even have to go out there and play them
again next season -- it's almost laughable," said Jets head coach Herman
Edwards, whose club will play Oakland again during the 2003 regular season.
"When you pull up in front of that place, the people, they know all the
players' names now because we have been there at the same hotel the last two
"And this is our fourth time we're going out there...that's amazing. I mean,
the guy at the coffee place right up the street, they have my table ready when
I go over there on Saturday. So it's great. It's kind of like going home."
If the Jets are to keep their hopes alive of advancing to their first Super
Bowl in 33 years, however, they must win in a place where they have won just
once in 41 years.
The Jets became the first club in NFL history to win their division after a
2-5 start. Since the rough beginning, however, New York has won eight of its
last 10 games, including a 41-0 thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts in the
first round of the playoffs last week at the Meadowlands. Edwards' team jumped
out to a shocking 24-0 halftime lead and never looked back. However, the Jets'
reward is a fourth trip to Oakland in the past two seasons.
The Jets took control of the Wild Card game versus Indianapolis from the
opening drive. After the Colts' offense went three-and-out, the Jets struck
first blood on a Chad Pennington-to-Richie Anderson swing pass that turned
into a 56-yard touchdown.
"We've had that play in our playbook as long as I have been here," said All-
Pro center Kevin Mawae. "Everyone just went with the run fake to the right and
there was nobody outside to the left."
After a John Hall field goal made it 10-0, New York tacked on a one-yard
touchdown run by LaMont Jordan and a four-yard scoring pass from Pennington to
Santana Moss. Before the Colts knew what hit them they were down 24-0 at
"I am so proud of the way the guys came together," Pennington said. "But I am
also really proud that we are not satisfied. We know we have a tough road
ahead of us if we are going to realize our ultimate goal of winning the Super
The play of the 26-year-old Pennington has been the difference between the
team that started the season 1-4 and the team that has won eight of its last
10. Last week, Pennington completed 19-of-25 passes for 222 yards and three
touchdowns in his first career playoff start. For the season, the Marshall
product has thrown 25 TDs and just six interceptions, including the playoffs.
In fact, his last interception came against Oakland on December 2.
Both the Jets and Raiders have scored at least 20 points each in the past
three meetings between the teams, including last year's postseason affair.
That could work in New York's favor since its offense has been clicking on all
cylinders lately. In the Jets' past three victories over Indianapolis, Green
Bay and New England, the team has averaged 37.7 points per game, including
back-to-back 40-plus point outbursts. However, Edwards knows his team will
have to put some big numbers on the scoreboard come Sunday to keep up with
Oakland's high-powered attack.
"We need to score more points," Edwards said. "That's our whole deal. We came
in the last couple of weeks really saying, ‘Hey, we want to score points and
that's the way you win.’ I mean, I think when you score more points, you can
play good defense because it puts the other team in a catch-up mode, or you
control the game when you're scoring points."
Pennington, who led the NFL with a 104.2 passer rating this season, is the
head of the Jets' offensive monster, but he has a solid supporting cast around
"This team is playing better ball than any team in any conference, any team
period," said RB Curtis Martin, who rested most of the second half but still
ran for 67 yards on 15 carries last week.
The backfield combination of Martin, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this
season for the eighth time in his eight-year NFL career, and Jordan, who led
the Jets with 102 yards and two touchdowns in the Wild Card game, is a potent
one-two punch. Throw in FB Anderson, who is an excellent receiver, and the
Raiders' defense has plenty to worry about.
Led by WR Laveranues Coles, who caught a team-high 89 passes for 1,264 yards
during the regular season, Oakland is going to have to contend with a good
receiving corps. Wayne Chrebet and Moss, who also excels as the Jets' punt
returner, can do some damage against Chuck Bresnahan's defense if given the
01/10 14:30:46 ET
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