Friday, November 25, 2011
Updated: November 26, 4:08 PM ET
Calvin Pace: Jets must finish 6-0
By Jane McManus
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Calvin Pace isn't happy that the New York Jets have -- for the third straight season -- worked their way back into the same spot. Another season on the brink, the playoffs slipping away, and now the 5-5 Jets have to win out in order to get a chance at the playoffs.
"Story of our season the past three years," Pace said, "where we've had to make these miraculous pushes in the end when it should have never came to that."
Asked if the Jets can afford to lose one of the remaining six games, Pace said the AFC North was too good to count on getting in at 10-6 -- it's all or nothing.
"6-0," said the linebacker. "We just need to win."
Jets coach Rex Ryan seemed to think the truth wasn't quite that stark, but he wasn't going to dampen any player's determination to win out, starting with this Sunday's 1 p.m. game against the flagging Buffalo Bills (5-5) at MetLife Stadium.
"Well, that's what you want the mentality to be, the mindset to be," Ryan said. "I don't know if that's factual or not. I feel pretty good about getting in there at 5-1. But 6-0 sounds good. We go 6-0, we'll get in there."
The NFC North has three teams above .500 in the Ravens (8-3), Steelers (7-3) and Bengals (6-4). Another tricky aspect is that the Jets have lost to other teams who will potentially be chasing the wild card, such as the Broncos.
"Maybe the records say that, I don't know," Ryan said. "I'm not afraid of any of those (AFC North) teams. There's a couple of real good teams in there obviously, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but beyond that, I'll take our division over any of them."
The Jets haven't had a playoff home game in the last two seasons as they reached the AFC Championship Game, but Pace said he wasn't sure a home game would have helped the Jets reach the Super Bowl.
"You look at the games that we did lose in the playoffs," Pace said. "Just we kill ourselves with mistakes penalties, somebody open in the secondary. We kill ourselves. If we play like teams that end up going to the Super Bowl play, error-free football, I think it helps your chance to win. You've still got to make plays, you've still got to do your job but too many times we do stupid things. You look back it it like, man, if we just would have played our game, played error-free football, who knows what would have happened."
As much stock as Ryan has put in the home game, with two losses to the Patriots, a division title won't keep the Jets home this year either.
It's a place that is stunningly familiar for the Jets.
"I'm surprised no doubt," Ryan said. "I never thought we'd be in this spot right now, but we are so we can't do anything about it now. We have to win the rest of them. That's the mentality we're taking."
Jane McManus is a columnist and reporter for ESPNNewYork.com.