Antonio Cromartie no longer predicting playoffs
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The boldness that prompted Antonio Cromartie to predict a Jets postseason has given way to a sense of resignation.
Eighteen days ago, the cornerback promised his team would make the playoffs. But losing has a way of tempering expectations, even for the most confident of individuals.
"I don't even know what I believe right now, the way we've been playing," Cromartie said Monday. "Five games left, anything can happen. My biggest focus is one important game. Can't worry about the playoffs right now."
Laughter still permeates the locker room as players crack jokes, but they're not numb to reality. At 4-7, their playoff outlook is so grim that players and coach Rex Ryan chose not to discuss it. Instead, they held firm to their objective of putting Thursday's embarrassing 49-19 loss to New England behind them and focus on the Cardinals (4-7).
Although Mark Sanchez's fumble after running into Brandon Moore's butt -- just one of several cringe-worthy moments -- is a YouTube sensation (more than 43,000 views as of Monday night), the Jets had no choice but to turn the page quickly.
Linebacker Bryan Thomas said players were upset they had allowed the Patriots to score three touchdowns, the last two on fumble returns, in 52 seconds and put up 35 points in the second quarter. But now, he said, "It's time to move on.
"What can we do about it?" Thomas said. "Hats off to the Patriots. They played a fantastic game. Now we're going to move on to Arizona.''
Running back/kick returner Joe McKnight said he's "not reliving it" either. Instead, he's heeding Ryan's message to stay the course.
"Just keep practicing like we're playing for something," said McKnight, who was a culprit on one of those turnovers. "We are playing for something, we're playing for our pride and we still have a chance to get in the playoffs with five games left. We need some things to happen. But they just told us to keep playing, the season's not over."
Despite their dire situation, Ryan believes it's still possible for the Jets to win out -- especially against five teams with losing records.
"Oh heck, yeah. That's your goal,'' he said. "Absolutely, that's what you're trying to do. Our goal was to beat New England also, but that never worked out. But of course you want [that].
"I'm not going to make a 'Ryan guarantees playoffs' [headline] or something like that deal," Ryan said. "We have to get better. And it has to start right now. You can't look down the road. We have to win this game, and I think that's where the entire focus is.''
With each loss, the door has all but closed on the Jets' postseason hopes. Unlike recent weeks, their confidence isn't as brazen, the conviction behind their words not as forceful.
Asked if the Jets still have a shot at the playoffs, safety LaRon Landry said: "I still think we can fight and win ballgames."
The only ballgame that matters now, however, is on Sunday.
"It's the NFL. What's the most important game? The next one," nose tackle Kenrick Ellis said. "You don't have time to look behind you because if you dwell on that, you can't move forward. So we're looking forward to getting a chance to get back on the field and proving ourselves again."