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Two years after coming up short, these ex-Jets seek playoff glory

Former Jets receiver Eric Decker caught the go-ahead touchdown during the Titans' wild-card win against the Chiefs. Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via USA TODAY Sports

Castoffs from The Team That Should've Made the Playoffs -- a.k.a. the 2015 New York Jets -- are scattered across the current postseason landscape, chasing the championship dream that eluded them with the Jets.

Four starters from the '15 Jets will be playing this weekend in the divisional playoffs -- wide receiver Eric Decker (Tennessee Titans), running back Chris Ivory (Jacksonville Jaguars), fullback Tommy Bohanon (Jaguars) and linebacker David Harris (New England Patriots).

From a production standpoint, they're not the same players they were in 2015, although Decker made the most important touchdown catch of his career in last week's upset of the Kansas City Chiefs -- a 22-yard game winner with 6:06 to play in the game. Diehard fans of the green and white may have noticed it came on a play (skinny post from the left side) that was eerily similar to the end zone interception in Week 17 of the 2015 season, the play that triggered the fourth-quarter collapse against the Buffalo Bills.

The Jets went into that game needing a win to clinch a wild-card berth, but they gagged in a Same-Old-Jets kind of way, losing to a team that had nothing on the line. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter and ... well, you know the story. The defeat was so crushing that some players cried in the locker room.

It's too bad because the Jets, winners of five straight, seemed to be peaking at the right time. There was legitimate talent on that team. Ivory was a 1,000-yard rusher, Decker was one of two 1,000-yard receivers and Harris was the leader of the defense. General manager Mike Maccagnan kept most of the nucleus intact for another run in 2016, but the team got old, cranky and bad.

Maccagnan broke up the group last offseason with a massive roster purge, which included parting ways with Decker and Harris on the same day (June 6) -- a dark day at One Jets Drive. The GM was criticized for dumping two well-respected players, but his decisions were validated by what unfolded during the season.

Decker, 30, suffered from a case of the yips (eight drops) and was a pedestrian receiver for the Titans in the regular season, finishing with 54 catches, 563 yards and one touchdown. He had a killer drop in the wild-card game before redeeming himself with the touchdown. The Jets? They replaced him with Jermaine Kearse, who delivered a solid year.

Harris, 33, struggled to get on the field for the Patriots, as he played only 177 defensive snaps in 10 games. Chances are, he'll be inactive Saturday night against the Titans in the divisional round. Meanwhile, his old team didn't miss a step with Demario Davis at middle linebacker.

Ivory was a big-ticket, free-agent signing for the Jaguars in 2016, but he hasn't lived up to expectations. Now the No. 2 back, behind rookie Leonard Fournette, he rushed for only 382 yards and a touchdown. Their blocking back is Bohanon, who re-started his career in Jacksonville after getting dumped by the Jets before the 2016 season.

Two other ex-Jets, both from the '15 team, remain alive in the playoffs -- punter Ryan Quigley (Minnesota Vikings) and running back Stevan Ridley (Pittsburgh Steelers).

They all could be looking for jobs in a couple of months. Maybe Harris will retire. For now, they get a chance to pursue the glory that was tantalizingly close two years ago.