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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Brien: from hero to goat in one week

From wire reports

Two minutes, two misses, and no more chances for the New York Jets.

Doug Brien lined up for his second shot at winning the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This one was a 43-yarder on the last play of regulation, and the ball looked good off his foot. Then it started curving, curving, curving and sailed wide left.

Just before that, Brien bounced a try off the crossbar on a 47-yarder that would have given the Jets the late lead.

It seemed unfathomable, but it gave the Steelers the perfect opportunity to steal a game they seemed destined to lose. Jeff Reed kicked a 33-yard field goal in overtime to win it 20-17 Saturday, and the Cardiac Jets trudged off the field.

Kind of what Brien and the Jets did to the San Diego Chargers last week in the wild-card round.

The Jets, who went into the fourth quarter Saturday with a seven-point lead, blew that when Hines Ward scored on a shovel pass from Ben Roethlisberger. Then Brien missed his field goals to give the Steelers new life and make the Jets the first NFL team to play three straight OT games.

Although the Jets got the ball first in OT, their mistakes stymied them. Pittsburgh was not as error-prone, driving down the field in nearly flawless fashion.

It was a valiant effort for a team everyone wrote off when the playoffs started. The Jets entered the postseason having lost three of four. Traveling to San Diego? Many penciled in a Jets loss.

San Diego would have won, but Nate Kaeding missed a 40-yard field goal in OT. Brien hit the winner from 28 yards.

Brien – and the Jets – were not as lucky this time around.

Barber opts to trim college time

University of Minnesota running back Marion Barber III announced that he will enter the NFL draft, giving up his final season of eligibility.

Barber, the school’s third-leading career rusher with 3,276 yards, has gained more than 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons. Before the Gophers played in the Music City Bowl three weeks ago, Barber said he would return in 2005. He then rushed for 187 yards in Minnesota’s 20-16 win over Alabama and won the Most Valuable Player award.

Sherman, new GM plan meeting

New Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson planned to meet with coach Mike Sherman over the weekend to talk about the coach’s future.

Sherman was stripped of his GM duties last week when team president Bob Harlan lured Thompson away from the Seattle Seahawks and back to Green Bay, where he worked for eight seasons under Ron Wolf.

Thompson said he expects Sherman, who is 55-31 in five seasons, to stay on as coach.