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Surprise! Jets remain alive

Quarterback Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets

Quarterback Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets (Oct. 12, 2009) Credit: Getty Images File

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Mark Sanchez was strolling over toward Dustin Keller's locker, preparing to talk with a few teammates, when the head-shaking thought crossed his mind.

"Man," the rookie quarterback said Monday to no one in particular, "how'd all those teams lose yesterday?"

That's what made the Jets' crushing 10-7 loss to the Falcons sting that much more.

The Jets would be sitting in prime position if they had taken care of business. But they still have a chance.

After the game Sunday, Rex Ryan basically said the Jets' playoff chances were done, which wasn't accurate. The Jets weren't mathematically eliminated - because it was a non-conference game, the loss didn't hurt them as much - and remain alive with two games left.

They still need a lot of things to unfold in their favor, beginning with taking down the undefeated Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday. But their postseason pulse remains - for now.

"I was dead wrong, obviously, in the playoff scenario, and it's weird," Ryan said. "You would think that the head coach would know the situations and playoff scenarios and all that . . . I thought we had to win out. We just had a single focus that we were going to have to win six straight games and that's it.

"So when I found out this morning, even then I heard, 'That's not true. The Jets still have a chance.' I'm thinking, well, Baltimore has to lose twice, Pittsburgh has to lose twice, which is impossible. I was thinking, what is the scenario, that there is no legitimate chance."

That's incorrect, however. As difficult as it may be to believe, several possibilities can vault the Jets into the playoffs, including at least one in which they can control their own fate in Week 17 against the Bengals. For that to happen, four things need to fall in line for the Jets, and Ryan addressed the possibility during team meetings Monday.

First, they must beat the Colts. Jacksonville (7-7) also has to lose to the Patriots (9-5) and the Dolphins (7-7) must fall to the Texans (7-7). Additionally, the Ravens (8-6) must lose to the Steelers (7-7) or the Broncos (8-6) must fall to the Eagles.

"I couldn't believe it," Ryan said. "I was like, 'Holy --, you've got to be kidding me.' We're still in it. With all the things that have happened to our team . . . we still have an opportunity here and it's amazing. It's almost like, 'Wow. This isn't a normal situation.' Yet we still have a heck of an opportunity."

But if they are as inept as they were against the Falcons, they aren't going to win whether the Colts play all their regulars or not. The Jets couldn't muster more than seven points and made only one big play, Sanchez's 65-yard touchdown bomb to Braylon Edwards.

"Forget the stats," Edwards said. "We are not making plays when it counts, and we are continuously in this situation. It's embarrassing, it's irritating. It's frustrating knowing we could've won yesterday, then we would be ahead and almost, I'm certain, if we won the rest of our games, we'd get in. So now we have to have this scenario happen.

"Playing the way we played yesterday, we don't deserve to go to the playoffs, and if it happens, then it happens."

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