I've been here before.
Sitting on pins and needles waiting for game time.
It's like the playoffs because it's a must-win game...but it's not the playoffs. If you lose, you're not a playoff team.
Here are a few other times I've had to endure the wait for a similar game...
January 2, 1994 - Houston 24, Jets 0. Back in the days before flex scheduling, this Sunday night game was a "win and in" for the Jets (thanks to Justin in NYC for reminding me about it). The Jets tanked, and Boomer Esiason was getting killed all day - all I wanted was for him to go to shotgun but the Jets kept him under center far too long. The following year the Jets started 6-4 and I was thinking Super Bowl...until Marino's fake spike and six straight losses began yet another string of futility.
December 21, 1997 - Detroit 13, Jets 10. With a chance to win their way in to the playoffs as a wild card, the Jets lose to the Lions on the season's final day in an uninspired effort. They finish the season historically, with a tremendous turnaround (1-15 to 9-7), but one game short of the post-season. I worked all day (home from college), managed to avoid hearing anything about the game, then watched a tape of the game. Barry Sanders dominated with 184 yards on the ground. Disappointment delayed for me.
December 24, 2000 - Baltimore 34, Jets 20. Another chance for the Jets to control things for themselves, and they got blasted by a Baltimore team known for its defense, not for putting up 34 points. Vinny Testaverde threw for 481 yards against the eventual Super Bowl champion defense, but it wasn't enough. The loss capped a December collapse by Al Groh's team...and it was a weird Christmas Eve in football - remember the Patriots and Dolphins were pulled out of the locker rooms an hour after the game ended to finish the game (some players were in street clothes...some in just towels)?
January 6, 2002 - Jets 24, Oakland 22. The Jets face a tall task, going out to Oakland in the final week of the season (actually a delayed Week 2 matchup because of 9/11) to play an Oakland team that was championship-caliber (but for the grace of a Tom Brady "tuck"...). The Jets pulled out a last-second win on a John Hall boot, then lost the following week in a playoff re-match in Oakland.
December 24, 2002 - Jets 42, Green Bay 17. The Jets knew a win would get them into the post-season and they throttled Brett Favre and the Packers at home. (Though this 2009 situation most resembles the Oakland game, with a potential rematch waiting, I hope we see a repeat of 2002, which I mentioned earlier this week.) They went on to beat Peyton Manning and the Colts 41-0 in the wild card round before losing again to Oakland.
January 2, 2005 - St. Louis 32, Jets 29 (OT). The Jets "backed in" to the playoffs, losing in St. Louis, though they lost after it became clear they were not going to be eliminated. (In the playoffs they won in San Diego before losing in Pittsburgh.) A similar situation could present itself tonight, but the good news is the Jets will know exactly where they stand when they take the field - meaning everyone could lose ahead of time and the Jets will be in...but I suspect at least one of the the other teams will take care of business and need the Jets to lose...so the Jets have to win their way in.
In 2008 there were a few of these types of games...and the Jets didn't win a game in December when they controlled their fate. And here we are in the final game of the 2009 season.
*I think I do a good job painting the picture of what it's like being a Jets fan...but in case you want to hear it from someone else, this was on espn.com earlier in the week.
*I don't think Chad Ochocinco has ever had the Jets in his sights before for his trash-talking. He supposedly has a mock "Fireman Ed" touchdown celebration in store, and he's been taunting Darrelle Revis all week. Weird this year to have the opponent talking trash - it's been the Jets all year. Something tells me if he doesn't get to use the touchdown move this week, Ochocinco will get his chance in the playoffs next week.
*Here's a feel-good story: A friend of mine who I used to work with at the Boston CBS affiliate now works at NFL Films and has had to interview Mark Sanchez a couple of times for an NFL Films piece called "Hey, Rookie". My friend, a huge Patriots fan (read: Not at all a Jets fan), loves Sanchez, says he was a total class act. I love hearing that. On a related note, my friend is also a Michigan alum, and despite all his boneheaded moves in Cleveland and his inability to catch the ball, Braylon Edwards is also supposedly a class act. More on that some other time.
*It's a good thing the Jets are keeping me interested past New Year's...because I've never done so terribly in this bowl pool that I'm in every year. Yikes. I was done by Christmas Day.
*I like the Mets signing Kelvim Escobar, by the way. Haven't had a chance to write about it with everything going on football-wise, but I will eventually. Now, it doesn't answer all of their pitching questions, but it's a good move.
*Jets are 9.5-point favorites in my pool in tonight's game. I would love a blowout so it's not in doubt late, but I don't know that I can pick it. I'll say Jets, 17-10. (Late change - I'm picking the Jets to cover because I bet a lot of people are taking Cincinnati, and I need to win the week....it's kind of a no-lose pick for me.)
*Remember - keep checking back all day - live the torture of waiting with me minute by minute, hour by hour with a live blog. I'll update throughout the day, then it'll get more intense in the 8 o'clock hour and during the Jets-Bengals game.