During the dog days of August, first-year coach Eric Mangini repeatedly maintained that his practices were tough for many reasons, including the fact that they would help the Jets to play through fatigue late in games.
He's been proven right so far. After the Jets (1-1) blew a 16-point lead but then scored the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter against Tennessee, they almost rallied from a 24-point third-quarter deficit in their 24-17 loss to New England. While quarterback Chad Pennington was quick to say "we don't believe in moral victories," the near-comeback was something that bodes well. Next up is a visit to Buffalo (1-1), where the Jets haven't won since the opening week of the 2002 season.
It's also been a house of horrors for Chad Pennington, who first injured his right shoulder in Orchard Park in Nov. 2004, and is 0-2 there. But Pennington threw for 306 yards against New England, as he put together consecutive 300-yard games for the first time in his career.
Still, he's obviously bought into Mangini's way of thinking.
"We are not where we want to be," Pennington said, adding, "this game is about winning and we're all disappointed in this locker room."
"I was proud of the way the guys fought back," Mangini said, "but I'm not happy with us getting down 24-0. That's too difficult and preventable."
The Jets' offensive line, a work in progress which was missing its most seasoned veteran (Pete Kendall), allowed Pennington to get sacked four times. Yet he bounced back literally and psychologically each time. He even got up after linebacker Junior Seau took a shot at his knees that drew a roughing-the-passer penalty. However, there was no need to accept the penalty as it came on Pennington's spectacular 71-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery, who bounced off two defenders and eventually scored.
"It was a big play," Cotchery said. "We needed a spark and that play right there created a lot of energy on the sideline. It gave us hope."
And the near-comeback certainly should give them plenty of hope for the rest of the season, although wide receiver Laveranues Coles said that never has been a problem.
"From my perspective," Coles said, "we'll always be better than what [reporters] give us credit for. Last time I checked we were only supposed to win four games this year, but at least we've accomplished 25 percent of that.
"We're going to continue to go out there and work hard. It's not about anybody else -- it's about what we do. When we put our mind to it and go out and compete, we can play with the best of them."
Big Plays Turned Game Around
The Jets spotted New England a 24-0 third-quarter lead and couldn't quite come all the way back as they lost, 24-17. It's their seventh consecutive defeat against New England, which hasn't lost to the Jets in the Meadowlands since 2000. Even with a mostly new cast of wideouts, Tom Brady was his usual flawless self through the first 2 1/2 quarters, directing the Patriots to four scoring drives and a 24-0 lead.
But an improbable play started the Jets' comeback, as wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery caught a deep pass from Chad Pennington on third-and-13 from the Jets' 29. Around the New England 35, Cotchery was sandwiched by Chad Scott, who hit him high, and Eugene Wilson, who hit him low. Cotchery bounced off Wilson and went the rest of the way for a 71-yard touchdown.
Then Laveranues Coles made three different changes of direction as he zigged and zagged to a 46-yard touchdown catch, pulling the Jets to within 24-14. On the next series, Brady fumbled when he was sacked on third down by blitzing safety Kerry Rhodes, and Bryan Thomas recovered at the New England 49 to set up Mike Nugent's 42-yard field goal. However, New England used 8:15 of the clock on its next drive, leaving the Jets with 1:05 on the clock, 91 yards away from a potential tying touchdown. Pennington's desperation pass was intercepted by Tedy Bruschi to end the Jets' last drive.
|New York Jets' Laveranues Coles pushes past New England Patriots' Ellis Hobbs on his way to a third-quarter touchdown in NFL football action Sunday, Sept. 17, 2006, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Patriots won, 24-17. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)|
--RB Kevan Barlow didn't start (Derrick Blaylock did), but Barlow apparently has moved past Blaylock in the pecking order. Barlow had 14 carries for 42 yards while Blaylock had only six attempts for 7 yards.
--K Mike Nugent rebounded from his woeful opening-day performance, in which he missed a PAT and two field-goal attempts, by connecting from 42 yards on his only FG try. He also was 2-for-2 on extra points.
--S Kerry Rhodes had an outstanding game with 11 tackles, including 10 solo stops, a strip sack and a pass breakup.
--WRs Jerricho Cotchery (six receptions, 121 yards) and Laveranues Coles (six receptions, 100 yards) became the first Jets to reach 100 receiving yards in the same game since RB Richie Anderson and WR Dedric Ward did it against Baltimore in the 2000 season finale.