With losses to the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, the New York Jets have placed themselves in a precarious position if they want to reach the play-offs.
Jets grounded in the reality of their situation
It was tough to shake the frustration of the 17-13 defeat last Thursday, even with some time away from football. Then, the Jets relived it all on Monday as they returned to work and trudged through the game film.
"I would've preferred to have watched it Friday and been done with it," said Brandon Moore, the right guard, "and not torture yourself over the weekend."
The Jets (5-5) are well aware they have played themselves into a precarious position thanks to losses to New England and Denver in the space of five days. Just like that, they went from being considered one of the AFC's best teams to a team that will need to hustle to even make the post-season.
"I think everyone kind of feels like it's now or never," said Jim Leonhard, the safety. "We have to play well, and we have to play well now."
New York have six games left to save their season, beginning on Sunday with a home game against the struggling Buffalo Bills (5-5).
Rex Ryan, the coach, said the post-season has already started because the Jets have run out of "breathing room".
"In this game, you don't have time to feel sorry for yourself," said Bart Scott, the linebacker. "You have to move on, and you have to get ready to play. "We dealt ourselves a bad hand, but we're still in the game. And as long as you're still in the game, you have to perform. This is a good opportunity for us to get on the right track and try to go on a roll, because we have to. We can't afford to lose any more games."
New York are in the middle of a muddled AFC play-off picture that includes 13 of 16 teams with as many as four wins. Even with gloom and doom being the overwhelming feeling among their fans and in the media, the Jets believe they can still turn things around.
"We've earned that 5-5 record, but we're focused on what's in front of us," Ryan said. "We better get it done. We better get it done in a hurry."
At this time in 2009, the Jets were 4-6 and in the midst of a three-game skid. They finished 5-1 to reach the play-offs and make the first of their consecutive trips to the AFC title game. So New York have been through this before, but the players are not relying on history.
"I'm a firm believer that 2009 has no bearing on 2011," Moore said. "That past, it won't measure up. There are different teams that you're going against. There are different players here. We just have to focus on winning this next game, and how it plays out over the next six games, who knows?"
The schedule is at least in the Jets' favour, with just one team left that currently has a winning record. They have got the Bills, who have lost three in a row, followed by Washington (3-7), Kansas City (4-6), Philadelphia (4-6), the Giants (6-4) and Miami (3-7).
All winnable games it appears, but the Jets' loss at Denver proved that no team can be taken lightly.