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Oilers Insist on Roundabout Route : AFC playoffs: After compiling a 7-1 record, Houston goes 4-4 and has to play in the wild-card game against Jets.

From Associated Press

Offer the Houston Oilers a freeway to the Super Bowl and they will seek out a muddy road every time.

They have reached the NFL playoffs for five consecutive years, yet they have stumbled late in the season, been forced to play in the wild-card round every year and made the second round only twice.

Although the Oilers (11-5) won the AFC Central Division title for the first time, they lost four of their last eight--three of their final five--games and dropped back into the wild-card round.

The New York Jets (8-8), today’s opponent, can’t match Houston’s record, but they are bounding into the playoffs. The Oilers are hoping to regain the momentum that got them off to a 7-1 start.

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“There’s no question our team is a little down because of the expectations we had,” quarterback Warren Moon said. “We’re in the wild-card game again, and we didn’t want to be there. But here we are and there’s no one to blame but ourselves.”

Moon set NFL records with 404 completions in 655 passes and directed the NFL’s No. 1-ranked passing offense.

Haywood Jeffires became the fifth player in NFL history to catch 100 passes in one season. His 100 receptions led the NFL and his 1,181 receiving yards led the AFC. Drew Hill was second in the AFC with 90 catches for 1,109 yards.

The Jets’ defense ranks 24th against the pass.

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The Oilers defeated the Jets, 23-20, on Oct. 13 and shut down their running game after the first quarter.

Blair Thomas, who is injured but expects to play, leads the Jets’ runners with 728 yards in 189 carries, and fullback Brad Baxter has 666 yards in 184 carries. Johnny Hector replaced Thomas last week and gained 132 yards against the Miami Dolphins.


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