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Jets ring out '05 hangover


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Jets ring out '05 hangover

Win in finale; changes loom



Herm Edwards celebrates with Justin Miller, whose 95-yard kickoff return provides winning TD.

John Abraham wraps up Bills QB Kelly Holcomb in what may be wrap on Jet career.

The only two players who wanted to hold on to the season were Vinny Testaverde and Wayne Chrebet, the soon-to-be retirees. Long after the sparse crowd had left Giants Stadium late yesterday, they returned with their families to an empty field, posing for pictures, exchanging hugs and soaking up the players' life one last time.

At least Testaverde and Chrebet, among the last links to the Jets' 1998 conference finalist team, know what the future holds. Their careers are over and they can begin life after football.

As for the other 62 players on the roster and injured reserve, many will fall into the "here-today-gone-tomorrow" category. A 4-12 season, the Jets' worst since the 1-15 debacle in 1996, will make for a bloody offseason.

"There's a lot of uncertainty right now," acknowledged Herm Edwards, whose Jets closed what he called a "horrific season" with a spirited 30-26 victory over the equally unstable Bills (5-11).

You can put Edwards atop the list of question marks.

Chiefs president Carl Peterson, speaking to reporters yesterday in Kansas City, hinted for the first time he's interested in Edwards as a possible replacement for Dick Vermeil.

As expected, Vermeil announced his retirement after yesterday's win over the Bengals.

Tampering rules prohibited Peterson from commenting directly on Edwards, but he did indicate he'd be willing to explore the coach's availability. To speak with Edwards, Peterson must get permission from the Jets.

Edwards, who has two years remaining on his contract, is expected to huddle with owner Woody Johnson this week. Edwards, who has a 39-41 record and three playoff appearances in five seasons, is believed to be seeking an extension. If he's rebuffed, he could press the Kansas City issue.

According to several players, Edwards hasn't mentioned his future to the team over the last few days. That's in contrast to seven weeks ago, when the Kansas City rumors first surfaced. At the time, he stood before the team on the practice field and guaranteed he'd return to fulfill his contract.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm back," he said after the game. "So that's where it's at."

Johnson, through a Jets spokesman, declined to comment. GM Terry Bradway will address the media Thursday.

The Jets face an offseason of upheaval. Chad Pennington, he of the twice surgically repaired shoulder, is not a gimme.

They also could lose their two most accomplished defensive players, John Abraham and Ty Law. Abraham, the team's most prominent free agent, bolted the locker room before the media were allowed in.

Was that his farewell statement? It's no secret that Abraham wants a long-term contract, and he could request a trade if he's slapped again with the dreaded franchise tag.

Abraham, who iced the game with a sack/forced fumble with 2:46 remaining, finished with a team-high 10 1/2 sacks. Law had three interceptions, giving him 10, the most by a Jet since Dainard Paulson's 12 in 1964. Too bad Law won't be back; there's no way the Jets will pay an $11 million option bonus. The Jets are expected to be $30 million over the projected salary cap. Prepare the pink slips.

"The waiting game starts," said center Pete Kendall, one of those on the bubble. "When you have a 4-12 year, with all the injuries we had, there are a lot of pieces in motion. This win makes you feel better tonight, but reality starts to set in tomorrow."

The Jets played one of their better games, setting a season-high for points, thanks to a defensive touchdown (Mark Brown's 33-yard interception return) and a special-teams touchdown (Justin Miller's 95-yard kickoff return). Where were those big plays during the season, when the injury-depleted offense needed a boost?

Edwards sugar-coated the victory, saying, "It's 2006, and we got our first win of 2006. You can laugh about that, but it's important for us to point this organization the right way. As I've said many times, it's not a condition. It was just a season."

You know it's a bad year when it includes more quarterbacks in action (five) than victories (four).

Chrebet and Testaverde received standing ovations when they appeared on the JumboTron during the fourth quarter. Afterward, Chrebet sat at his locker, head bowed, too emotional to speak. "Tremendous," he said of the fans' response.

Fittingly, Chrebet and Testaverde were the last two players out of the stadium. The last two to leave a 4-12 disaster

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