Jets celebrate playoff berth
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Coach Rex Ryan and the New York Jets lost to the Bears but won a playoff berth Sunday by virtue of the Redskins' victory over the Jaguars.
Brian Hill | Staff Photographer
As he has done countless times in his great NFL career, LaDainian Tomlinson excited his teammates with a burst.
Which signaled a berth.
A roar of "Yeaaaah!" inside the New York Jets locker room at Soldier Field was followed immediately by an equally loud scream of "Woooooo!"
Tomlinson had provided his teammates great news following their 38-34 loss to the Bears on Sunday: Washington had just beaten Jacksonville 20-17 in overtime, clinching a playoff spot for the Jets, who last season played in the AFC championship game.
"Most of us were sitting in here just thinking about the game," Jets tight end Dustin Keller said.
Then Tomlinson and a couple of ecstatic teammates emerged from a room, where they had been watching the end of the Redskins-Jaguars game.
"They were yelling and screaming like they were crazy," Keller said. "We thought for a second a fight broke out. Everybody wasn't sure if we could celebrate, or if we should still be upset about the loss."
The eruption came while Jets head coach Rex Ryan was addressing the media in a room adjacent to the visiting team's locker room.
"By the way, I think we're in the playoffs," Ryan, a Stevenson High School graduate, said with a grin.
"Gosh dog," said Ryan, his grin growing. "Hey, it ain't the way I wanted it, but I'll take it."
"No relief at all," Ryan deadpanned.
Seconds earlier, Ryan had stressed that any Super Bowl talk regarding his team should be tabled until the Jets first make the playoffs. He had lamented that his defense "couldn't stop a nosebleed" in the third quarter, when Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw touchdown passes of 40 and 26 yards to Johnny Knox and 25 yards to Devin Hester.
"When Cutler's hot, he's as good as there is," Ryan said. "He made some big plays against us."
It was then, as Ryan was finishing his sentence, that the roar erupted.
Like that, the Jets (10-5) could be happy on a day when they lost for the third time in four games, saw wide receiver Santonio Holmes have a snowball fired at him after he caught a 23-yard touchdown pass and learned that rough weather on the East Coast would keep these Jets grounded overnight.
"I'm a huge Redskins fan right now," Ryan said with a smile. "We wanted to win to get in (the playoffs), without question. We never got it done, but I am excited to get in the playoffs. ... We're in the tournament. That's two years in a row. I would have signed up for it at the beginning of the year."
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