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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 years.

"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 halftime.

"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 Bowl."

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 him.

"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 chance.

01/10 14:30:46 ET

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