Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Jets Grind Out Comeback Win Over Browns

By Casey Pearce

The New York Jets trailed the Cleveland Browns for nearly two and a half quarters Sunday afternoon, but they gained the upper hand when it counted.

Justin McCareins caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Quincy Carter with 5:32 remaining in the fourth quarter Sunday to give the Green & White their only lead of the contest as the Jets improved to 7-3 on the season.

“It wasn’t pretty at all,” head coach Herm Edwards said of his team’s 10-7 win. “We had to come here and get a win, and we didn’t care what we had to do to get it. After what we went through last week, this win was huge for us, and it shows what kind of character we have as a team.”

The Green & White struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the opening half as Carter was sacked five times. The Jets amassed just 79 yards of total offense through two quarters and found themselves down 7-0 at halftime.

“Quincy may have held the ball a little longer than he should have because he didn’t want to turn it over,” Edwards said. “He adjusted and made some good throws that helped us late.”

New York threatened early as Carter hit wide receiver McCareins for a pair of 12-yard gains on the first two plays of the game. After two short runs by Curtis Martin, the Jets were forced to try a 43-yard field goal. Doug Brien’s attempt was blocked by Cleveland’s Orpheus Roye and fell well short.

A field position game followed as Toby Gowin and Derrick Frost traded eight punts in the opening half before the Browns broke things open. Following a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty against Shaun Ellis, Cleveland running back William Green ripped off a 21-yard run to put the Browns in business. Four plays later, Jeff Garcia found tight end Aaron Shea from three yards out to give Cleveland a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Garcia enjoyed an impressive first half, completing 10 of his 17 passing attempts for 88 yards and a touchdown, but an injurty to his throwing shoulder forced the former Pro Bowler to sit out the second half. Kelly Holcombetook over but was just 4 of 10 for 32 yards in relief of Garcia.

The Browns got a chance to extend their lead late in the half, but Phil Dawson’s 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right, keeping it a one-possession contest. It was Dawson’s first miss of the season.

Sunday was another day of milestones for Martin. Midway through the first quarter, the ten-year veteran surpassed the 1,000-yard mark on the season, making him and Barry Sanders the only backs in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in each of their first 10 seasons in the league. With 88 yards in the game, Martin also passed Hall of Famer and fellow Pittsburgh alum Tony Dorsett to move into sixth place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

After forcing Cleveland to punt on their opening drive of the third quarter, the Jets were able to get on the board. Carter went downfield to Santana Moss and McCareins for plays of 12 and 14 yards respectively. The one-two punch of Martin and LaMont Jordan on the ground put New York in field goal range, and Brien’s 41-yard kick made it a 7-3 contest. Carter was sacked just once in the second half and finished 11-for-20 passing for 116 yards and a touchdown.

“We did a good job of countering what they were trying to do to us by getting the ball out there quickly,” Edwards said. “They blitzed us a lot and did some good things early. When our runners started moving the chains, that relieved some of the pressure and really helped us.”

The Green & White got a favorable bounce when Browns return man Dennis Northcutt muffed a punt late in the third quarter. B.J. Askew recovered for the Jets to give the offense the ball in plus territory. Unfortunately Carter was intercepted three plays later, and the Jets were unable to cash in on the turnover.

The Browns proceeded to chew up 7:33 of the game clock on a 17-play drive in which they advanced to the New York 17-yard line. But the Jets got yet another break when Dawson missed for the second time on the afternoon, the latter miss coming from 34 yards out.

“Things did go our way a little bit, but our defense played fabulous,” Edwards said. “They came up with some big stops and kept the game within reach. All we wanted was a chance at the end, and they gave us that.”

The Jets took over and put together an impressive 10-play, 75-yard that led to their first lead of the ballgame. Martin and Jordan opened the drive with seven consecutive bruising runs that pushed the ball to the Browns’ 33. On 3rd-and-11, Carter connected with McCareins just short of the sticks, but the long-armed receiver used every bit of his 6-2 frame to stretch just past the first down marker.

“I knew I was a little short when I ran the route,” said McCareins, who finished with a game-high six catches for 71 yards to go along with his game-winning touchdown. “I just reached out and was fortunate to make the play.”

Carter immediately turned to Moss for a 13-yard pickup that put the ball on Browns’ 11. McCareins then put the finishing touches on the drive when he caught a quick flare and broke a tackle before waltzing in for his third touchdown catch of the season. Brien’s PAT made it a 10-7 contest.

“We’d practiced those throws all week because of some of the things we anticipated from Cleveland,” Edwards said. “They leave the corners out there and play off coverage. With Santana’s ability to make people miss and the fact that Justin is a hard guy to tackle, we took advantage of that.”

Donnie Henderson’s defensive unit quickly forced a punt, leaving Jordan to single-handedly run out the clock on his own and preserve New York’s seventh win of the season. Jordan rushed for 73 yards Sunday with 64 of those coming in the final quarter. As a team, the Jets ran for 157 yards Sunday.

“Offensively, we struggled a little bit early,” Jordan said. “When you run the ball, you have to just stick to it, and eventually one team is going to get tired. You have to give them credit defensively, but we kept fighting and put it in the end zone when it counted.”

The 7-3 Jets will have little time to enjoy their seventh victory of the season as they step out of conference next week with a trip to Arizona to take on the Cardinals next Sunday.

“It feels good, but we’re not going to rest until we make the playoffs,” Jordan said. “This was another step towards that, but we’ve got six more now. Our mind immediately turns to Arizona.”

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Late Scoring Frenzy Gives Jets Lead at Half

By Casey Pearce, From NFL.com

New York fans vividly remember the 23-point fourth quarter rally that it took for the Green & White to pull out a 40-37 overtime victory the last time the Jets and Dolphins met on Monday Night Football.

There was no need for a late comeback this time. The Jets jumped on Miami early and scored on their first four possessions of the second half en route to a 41-14 victory over the Dolphins Monday Night.

“Coming off of a loss, we needed that,” Jets head coach Herm Edwards said. “We played well in all areas and were able to pull out a big win. You don’t want to get a couple of losses in a row, and we were able to avoid that trap.”

The Green & White enjoyed their most prolific offensive game of the season, racking up 472 total yards on the evening. LaMont Jordan and Curtis Martin rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown each, marking the first time since September of 1975 that two Jet backs have topped the century mark in a game.

The Jets got on the scoreboard first as they were able to cash in on a Miami turnover. With the Dolphins driving midway through the first quarter, Jay Fielder connected with TE Donald Lee for an eight-yard gain, but Reggie Tongue’s vicious hit knocked the ball loose. Tongue recovered the fumble, and the Jets took over at their own 48-yard line.

It took just three plays for New York to capitalize. After a 14-yard run by Martin, Chad Pennington found a wide-open Wayne Chrebet streaking down the middle of the field for a 35-yard touchdown that gave the Jets an early 7-0 lead.

Defensive end John Abraham continued his stellar play. On 3rd-and-four late in the opening quarter, Abraham sacked Fiedler for a nine-yard loss, forcing the Dolphins to punt. With the sack, Abraham moved into the NFL lead with 8.5 on the season.

Late in the second quarter, the Jets had a difficult time finding an answer for Miami TE Randy McMichael. The former Georgia Bulldog caught four passes for 63 yards as the Dolphins drove 91 yards for a game-tying score. On McMichael’s fourth catch of the drive, Fielder found him from 28-yards out for a touchdown to tie it at seven a piece.

The Green & White wasted no time answering. After a 14-yard run by Jordan, Pennington found Justin McCareins all alone near the sideline. As he was falling out of bounds, McCareins used his entire wingspan to stretch the ball over the goal line for the 27-yard touchdown. It was McCareins’ first score as a Jet and gave New York a 14-7 lead.

"He stretched out like Gumby," Edwards said of his receiver’s reach toward the end zone.

After forcing the Dolphins to go three-and-out, the Jets got the ball back at their own 30-yard line with 20 seconds left in the second quarter. Martin’s 12-yard run on a draw play followed by catches by McCareins and Chrebet gave K Doug Brien a shot at a 49-yard field goal with one second left in the half. Brien split the uprights, and the Jets took at 17-7 lead into the locker room.

The momentum that the Jets gained before the break carried over into the second half. On New York’s first possession of the third quarter, Pennington led the Green & White on a 9-play, 65-yard drive that Martin capped off with a 25-yard touchdown run. Brien’s PAT made it a 24-7 contest.

“The points we scored before the half gave us a lot of energy,” Edwards said. “We wanted to come out in the second half and put points on the board, and we did that.”

The Jets defense continued to harass Fiedler. On Miami’s opening possession of the second half, Jason Ferguson and Jonathan Vilma combined to sack the Dolphins’ signal caller and forcing another Matt Turk punt. The Jets sacked Fiedler four times Monday.

“Like we always try to do, we made them one-handed,” Edwards said. “We stopped the run and then really got after them.”

On the ensuing drive, a 47-yard reception by Santana Moss and a 21-yard catch by Jordan set up Pennington’s one-yard touchdown pass to TE Chris Baker, extending the Jets’ lead to 31-7. Pennington finished 11-19 passing for 189 yards and two touchdowns on the evening.

After a 43-yard field goal by Brien extended the New York lead to 27, Jon McGraw intercepted Fiedler to give the Jets another scoring chance. Jordan rushed for 16 and 25 yards on consecutive plays and reached pay dirt on the latter to make it a 41-7 game.

Quincy Carter saw his first action as a Jet, relieving Pennington late in the game. Carter completed his only attempt on the night, an eight yard pass to Jerald Sowell.

The Jets (6-1) must now turn their attention to another AFC East foe. New York travels to Buffalo this Sunday to take on a Bills team that is coming off a 38-14 win over Arizona.

“We’ve got a short week to get ready for a good football team,” Edwards said. “Like always, we’ll enjoy this for a little while. Then we’ll start to prepare for another one that’s going to be big.