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NFL

Familiarity strips game down to fundamentals

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2003


OAKLAND, Calif. -- Because this is the fourth game between the teams in a little more than a year, there shouldn't be many surprises.

And that could make things even more interesting.

"I just think the game from a familiarity aspect of it, from a personnel standpoint, becomes like a chess match," Oakland coach Bill Callahan said. "How we are going to deploy personnel and certain alignments and formations and matchups? That's integral. But the competition and inner battles will be interesting to watch."

Said Jets running back Curtis Martin: "I think we know what to expect and they know what to expect. Now, the disadvantage is you have to be consistently good -- both teams. I think whoever is the most consistent team wins the game. The team that makes the fewest mistakes, being that you know each other so well and being that you're so prepared and that so much is on the line, that team will win the game."

PASS THE POPCORN: Miramax Films co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein, huge Jets fans, gave the team a copy of the new film Gangs of New York to watch on Friday's flight.

"They were nice enough to give us the film, and I guess they're trying to promote it," coach Herman Edwards said. "The question I was asking is, the film has been out about two months and they didn't ask us to look at it then but they're asking us to look at it now."

INJURY ISSUES: Oakland tight end Roland Williams is unlikely to play because of a knee injury. ... Cornerback Charles Woodson, recovering from surgery on a fractured right fibula, will be a game-time decision.

MISCELLANY: Martin has been held to 50 yards or fewer in three of five games against Oakland. ... The Network Associates Coliseum sod, trashed in the rainy regular-season finale, has been replaced. Rain is possible today.

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