Different Motivations; Same Objective

Both the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets feel they have a lot on the line this Sunday in New York. One team is battling for a playoff spot, and the other is battling to make something out a lost season.

The Browns didn't help their playoff chances in Arizona.

The loss ties the Browns with Tennessee for the second wild card spot, one game behind Jacksonville and one game ahead of Buffalo, which comes to Cleveland Dec. 16.

But the Browns do not want to think about the playoffs. They want to think merely about playing well in New York on Sunday against the Jets, a team that scored 40 points against hapless Miami last Sunday.

"I know that other people have been talking about playoffs and all of that stuff," coach Romeo Crennel said. "Hopefully, the players listen to me more than they listen to everybody else."

The Browns say that they want to use a listless performance in the desert as a reminder of what it takes to win.

"Sometimes games like one of those deals that sneak up and bite you can be a good thing," running back Jamal Lewis said. "It can be a good thing just to humble you and let you know that, look, we need to get better."


Don't try to tell the 3-9 Jets that the last month of the 2007 season is meaningless.

"It matters," rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis said about the rest of the season, "because we have a (few) more games left and it's just good to finish out the season on a good note, and then focus on what we need to do going into next year."

 Darrelle Revis (AP)
That's the attitude the Jets will take as they face the final few weeks of the season, one at a time. It's an attitude embodied by one of their offensive captains, wide receiver Laveranues Coles. He started and had five receptions in the 40-13 win over Miami despite playing on a still-gimpy left ankle after being injured against Pittsburgh two weeks ago. Coles never wavered in his desire to play, even though the Jets have been out of contention for weeks.

Revis and the rest of the players spoke after the game Sunday. They were given Monday off, a rare "victory Monday" for the Jets.

"He sets the bar for all of us," wide receiver Wallace Wright said of Coles.

Left guard Adrien Clarke said, "Every game is just as important as the next."

Even in the final stages of a season that won't turn out the way the Jets had hoped.

"They're highly important," center Nick Mangold said of the four remaining games, which begin with Cleveland at home on Sunday. "Because as a competitor and as a football player, you go out to win games. That's your job and that's what you're supposed to do. If we didn't have that kind of competitiveness, the guys here wouldn't be in this room. (The games) are all still very important."

"This win is definitely good for our morale," linebacker David Bowens said. "But what's the next step? (We will) just keep going one week at a time. I know it sounds redundant, but I think that's the professional thing and a professional approach."

"I'm happy with the way guys have worked over the course of the season," coach Eric Mangini said. "Sometimes it doesn't come around as quickly as you'd like, and you don't make the progress you'd like as quickly as you'd like to, but I'm happy with the progress we've made over the last few weeks."

The Jets' next three games are against teams that currently have winning records, with road games against New England and Tennessee after the Cleveland contest. But being a spoiler isn't a goal for Mangini, who has preached over and over that looking at an opponent's record is a distraction.

"We should have the same focus," Mangini said Monday, "regardless of what the record of our opponent is."

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