Jets make playoffs to complete turnaround

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 30, 2002

Herman Edwards and the New York Jets have come a long way since his tirade after a 2-5 start.

''See, the problem is this is what happens when you lose, people start assuming they quit. Well, this team ain't doing that,'' the New York coach said two months ago.

''Hello, you play to win the game. I don't care if you don't have any wins, you go play to win. When you start telling me it doesn't matter, then retire, get out, because it matters.''

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And what Edwards said certainly had an impact on his team. The Jets won seven of their last nine games, taking the AFC East title Sunday with a 42-17 home victory over Green Bay.

They needed some help -- rival Miami lost 27-24 in New England to open the door for the Jets (9-7). Then they dominated the Packers (12-4), who lost a chance for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

Chad Pennington threw four touchdown passes and Curtis Martin finished with 83 yards and 1,094 for the year, his eighth straight season over 1,000 yards.

The Jets' victory also helped Cleveland (9-7) make the playoffs for the first time since the Browns were reborn as an expansion franchise in 1999. Cleveland beat Atlanta 24-16 at home earlier in the day to set up its postseason chances.

The Jets will face Indianapolis at home on Saturday, and the Browns will begin the playoffs on Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Buccaneers 15, Bears 0

At Champaign, Ill., Martin Gramatica kicked five field goals to give Tampa Bay (12-4) the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

It was a blustery 34 degrees at kickoff, giving Tampa Bay its first victory in 22 tries when the gametime temperature is 40 degrees or below.

The Bears (4-12) struggled behind Henry Burris, who threw four interceptions in his first NFL start.

Patriots 27,

Dolphins 24, OT

At Foxboro, Mass., Adam Vinatieri kicked a 35-yard field goal 2:03 into the extra session to cap the Patriots' comeback from a 24-13 deficit in the final five minutes of regulation.

The Dolphins (9-7) and Patriots (9-7) both missed the playoffs after the Jets beat the Packers to win the division. New York won because of a superior division record to Miami and a better record against common opponents than New England.

Ricky Williams rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns for Miami. He ended the season with 1,853 yards to win the league's rushing title. It's also the eighth-best rushing season in NFL history, a yard more than Walter Payton had in 1977.

Titans 13, Texans 3

At Houston, Eddie George scored on a 4-yard run with 5:14 to play as the Titans (11-5) earned a first-round bye.

The Texans (4-12) closed out their first NFL season with three straight losses.

George had 102 yards rushing on 25 carries, and Joe Nedney kicked two field goals for the Titans.

A record crowd of 70,694 booed the Titans as they came on the field to play in Houston for the first time since moving to Tennessee after the 1996 season.

Steelers 34, Ravens 31

At Pittsburgh, the Steelers (10-5-1) rallied from 11 points down in the fourth quarter to set up a home wild-card game against Cleveland.

The Ravens (7-9) led 31-20 with 12:57 remaining. But Amos Zereoue scored on a 5-yard run, and Maddox threw the go-ahead 8-yard scoring pass to Antwaan Randle El with 2:29 left. Maddox hit Plaxico Burress for the 2-point conversion.

Zereoue ran for 104 yards in his second career 100-yard game, filling in for the injured Jerome Bettis.

Panthers 10, Saints 6

At New Orleans, the Saints lost their third straight after Carolina cornerback Terry Cousin had two interceptions and a fumble to lift the Panthers.

The Saints (9-7) opened the season 6-1 but lost six of its last nine. Carolina (7-9), in last place in the NFC South, snapped a 13-game losing streak in its division.

Deuce McAllister gained 117 yards on 28 carries, the first back to have a 100-yard game against Carolina this season. Saints QB Aaron Brooks was 12-of-31 for 145 yards, was sacked three times and intercepted twice.

Colts 20, Jaguars 13

At Indianapolis, Peyton Manning threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Pollard with 2:26 left to lift the Colts (10-6) over the Jaguars (6-10).

Manning went 20-of-28 for 146 yards and a touchdown. Marvin Harrison caught six passes for a season-low 28 yards, but he finished the year with an NFL-record 143 receptions and 1,722 yards -- the fourth-most in league history.

The loss probably cost Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin his job.

Seahawks 31,

Chargers 28, OT

At San Diego, Matt Hasselbeck rallied the Seahawks (7-9) to victory, throwing for a career-high 449 yards.

Hasselbeck scored the tying touchdown on a 1-yard sneak with a second left in regulation, and Rian Lindell kicked a 24-yard field goal with 5:02 left in overtime.

Hasselbeck threw for a career-high 449 yards.

It was a miserable finish for San Diego (8-8), which started 6-1 but lost seven of its last nine games.

Redskins 20, Cowboys 14

At Landover, Md., the Redskins (7-9) ended a 10-game losing streak to the Cowboys (5-11).

It was Washington's first win over Dallas since Oct. 13, 1997, and it came amid a farewell party for retiring cornerback Darrell Green and tenuous futures in Dallas for coach Dave Campo and running back Emmitt Smith.

Owner Jerry Jones has met with Campo's possible replacement, Bill Parcells, twice in the last two weeks.

Vikings 38, Lions 36

At Detroit, Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper was 21-of-29 for 312 yards and two TDs, and also ran for a score.

Gary Anderson's 18-yard field goal put the Vikings ahead by eight with 1:09 left, but Mike McMahon's third TD pass -- a 19-yarder to Scotty Anderson -- got Detroit (3-13) within two with 13 seconds left. The Vikings (6-10) won when McMahon's 2-point conversion pass was incomplete.

Broncos 37, Cardinals 7

At Denver, Clinton Portis ran for a career-high 228 yards and two TDs to finish with a Broncos rookie-record 1,508 yards.

Denver (9-7), which lost five of eight after a 6-2 start, missed the playoffs for the third time in four years since winning consecutive Super Bowls.

Arizona (5-11) lost nine of its last 10 games.