If Jets Win, They Can Squirm Over a Playoff Berth

If they defeat the and Tennessee loses to Houston — two of the four outcomes necessary for an improbable playoff berth — the Jets will board their flight back to New Jersey unable to follow the other three games of interest in real time. Their airplane — unlike that of the Titans, who are also vying for the A.F.C.’s final wild-card spot — is not equipped with Wi-Fi or televisions. And as every frequent flier knows, using cellphones on board is strictly prohibited. No exceptions, not even for curious, and nervous, football players and coaches.

“Come on, please, Mike Tannenbaum is going to be on the same plane,” Coach said, referring to the Jets’ general manager. “We will have a way of finding out. There is no doubt about that.”

The Jets would indeed find out, just not on their terms. Instead of watching television broadcasts or tracking play-by-play on the Internet, they will await updates from crew members, who will be apprised by dispatchers on the ground. In that regard, and barring any untoward and surreptitious checking of cellphones, the Jets will be no different from commercial travelers flying during the or other notable sporting events, when pilots often relay scores from the cockpit.

The Jets put themselves in this undesirable position by losing last Saturday to the Giants, a defeat that knocked them out of the sixth-seeded position and into a with Oakland and Tennessee at 8-7, a game behind Cincinnati (9-6). For the Jets to make the playoffs, the Bengals must also lose at home to Baltimore, as must either Denver at home to Kansas City or Oakland at home to San Diego. All three games are scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. Eastern, or just as the Jets’ contest with Miami is concluding, and all should end around 7:30, when the Jets are likely to be high above the Carolinas.

“It’s going to be very scary,” Darrelle Revis said. “It really is, because you don’t ever want to be in this situation.”

Perhaps, but it beats the alternative. The Jets at least remain in playoff contention. Miami was eliminated weeks ago. But the Jets know better than to take the Dolphins lightly. Miami has won five of its past eight games, including resounding victories against the Raiders, the Bills and the Chiefs.

The Jets would like nothing more on Sunday than to see a stout effort by their defense and an encouraging game by Mark Sanchez, and then to leave Sun Life Stadium around 5:15 p.m., their iPads and laptops in tow, bound for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, with hope alive. Still, as guard Matt Slauson said: “It’s not we win and we’re in. It’s we win, and then we sweat it out.”

Slauson is well versed in everything that must happen for the Jets to reach the playoffs, but he is hardly in a majority. Sione Pouha said he was so focused on Sunday’s game that he did not know that a Tennessee loss would help the Jets. As he does on flights after every game, Pouha will use the time to ice his ailing body and to reflect on his performance, not concern himself with events in Oakland, Denver and Cincinnati. “I barely know how to use an ,” he said.

As nice as DirecTV would be, tight end Matthew Mulligan said, he will probably read or, more likely, sleep. Safety Brodney Pool agreed, saying: “If you sleep, the flight goes faster. You don’t have to wait.”  

Waiting could be torturous. But so could watching if, say, all the Jets need to secure a berth is for Kansas City to stop Tim Tebow. That might be why Mike Pettine, the Jets’ defensive coordinator, said flatly, “I don’t know if I’ll want to keep track.”

Even though the Jets have endured frantic finishes to make the playoffs the past two seasons, never under Ryan have they lacked such control entering their final game. In the 2009 season, they overcame a vexing and unlikely set of circumstances in Week 16 before clinching in the final week with a victory against Cincinnati. Last year, they locked up a spot with a game remaining.

“The fact that our fate rides on other teams — that isn’t the best-case scenario, obviously,” Slauson said. “But that’s what we did to ourselves, and we’ve got to live with it.”

For their part, the Jets have had good luck at airports this season, securing Plaxico Burress’s services during his layover at Los Angeles International in late July and learning at Newark Liberty International on Nov. 6, after arriving from Buffalo, that they had moved into a first-place tie in the division with New England. That day, the players were excited. But if everything — everything — goes their way on Sunday, the celebration on board their plane will be epic. They will feel sky-high.

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