With their 23-3 win over Oakland, the Jets capped their unpredictable run to the playoffs in a predictable way. Few people expected the Jets to finish at .500 this season, but by the time the Jets beat Miami last week, most had them taking down the Raiders in the season-finale. But give the Jets credit for taking advantage of the win-and-you're-in situation, even if it came against a team that last won on Oct. 29.


Sunday's win was more of the same formula the Jets have applied all year. Their clamp-down defense wasn't tested by an impotent -- and injury-riddled -- Raiders offense. The offense didn't ask Chad Pennington to do to much. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 157 yards an the only touchdown the Jets would need, even if they did add one in the fourth quarter.

Looking forward, the Jets will need to avoid a shootout in their wild-card game against the New England Patriots. The games they've won this year have been defensive struggles, and if the teams are scoring a lot of points, chances are the Jets will have trouble keeping up. The Jets and Patriots spit their two games this season with the Patriots winning 24-17 at Giants Stadium in September but the Jets winning 17-14 on the road in November. From this point on, the Jets' success is gravy. They weren't playing with house money against Oakland because the Raiders are so dreadful, but now that they're in the playoffs, it's all extra for New York.


Top photograph of Leon Washington diving over the goal line during the fourth quarter by Bill Kostroun. Middle photographs of Chad Pennington holding onto the ball as the game clock counts down (left) and Jets players dumping Gatorade on first-year coach Eric Mangini by Bill Kostroun. Bottom photograph of Jonathan Vilma throwing his gloves to fans by Julie Jacobson