FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Darrelle Revis felt just like his teammates a little more than a week ago, figuring the stake already had been driven through their hearts, thinking their shot at a playoff berth had vanished more quickly than a pile of snow in triple-digit temperatures.
"After we lost against Atlanta, I thought we were done because I thought we had to win every game moving forward," Revis said Monday. "That just shows that something has to give. I don't know if the football gods want us to be in the playoffs or not. But it's a good thing that you look back at this season and at the end of it, we still have a chance.
"I think we're getting a lot of Christmas presents after Christmas."
With everything falling into place Sunday, the Jets (8-7) somehow are in control of their own playoff situation. A victory over the Bengals (10-5) Sunday night in what likely will be the final game at Giants Stadium will clinch a playoff berth and the AFC's fifth seed. Lose, and the Jets will have tormented their fan base once again because they'll be eliminated from playoff contention.
There's also a good chance that if they get into the postseason, the Jets will end up playing the Bengals the following weekend in Cincinnati. That's because the Bengals likely would be the fourth seed, something that essentially wouldn't change if Cincinnati and the Patriots (10-5) end up with the same record because New England holds an edge in the strength-of-victory tiebreaker.
Only nine days ago, a Jets playoff berth seemed unfathomable.
"From a guy that said, 'Well, it's unfortunate we're done,' we're right there, alive and kicking," Rex Ryan said. "I think I told our team Tears for Fears [but] Simple Minds sang that song, 'Alive and Kicking.' So here we go."
Linebacker Bart Scott said: "We've afforded ourselves another opportunity to play a meaningful game and get to the playoffs. We've been fighting and scratching and it hasn't been pretty, but we hold our own fate in our hands.
"All you can ask for and all we ever asked for was to get in the tournament. Now here we are; it's right in front of us. What are you going to do with that opportunity?"
Of course, there's a good possibility that Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, whom Ryan knows well dating to their Baltimore days together, could pull a Jim Caldwell. Because the Patriots will play at 1 p.m. in Houston, the Bengals are going to know if they still have a shot at the No. 3 seed by the time they kick off with the Jets at 8:30 p.m.
Lewis hinted Monday that he'll take a wait-and-see approach with how he utilizes his key players, and that whether Cincinnati can improve its seeding will factor into his decision. Sound familiar?
"It's probably going to be the same situation," Revis said. "We can't control what they do; we only can control what we do. We are just trying to get this win and go to the playoffs. I've never been to the playoffs. Getting this win on Sunday would be a good treat for me and a lot of people in this locker room."
Said Thomas Jones: "We know what is ahead of us on Sunday. Guys are excited about the opportunity, excited about the chances that we have."