Jets Fall To Saints 23-13
By Justin Paley
Jets Staff Writer
August 1st, 2004

Despite being in the city of voodoo on Friday the 13th, the real horror for the NY Jets appears to be their backup QB situation as they fell to the New Orleans Saints 23 - 13 at the Louisiana Superdome in their first pre-season game of 2004.

Despite being in the city of voodoo on Friday the 13th, the real horror for the NY Jets appears to be their backup QB situation as they fell to the New Orleans Saints 23 - 13 at the Louisiana Superdome in their first pre-season game of 2004.

QB Brooks Bollinger’s poor performance in this year’s training camp carried into the game and former CFL star Ricky Ray was no better. The Coaches have got to be concerned and will likely be watching the waiver wire very closely to look for a competent veteran backup for Chad Pennington.

The game started off shaky for New York as Saints kick returner Michael Lewis brought back the opening Doug Brien kick 41 yards and for sure ruining special teams Coach Mike Westhoff’s weekend. Overall, with a lot of new faces on special teams the Jets gave up 123 total yards on four kickoff returns.

Despite the poor start the team’s defense stepped up the play on their first series. Jets first-round draft pick LB Jonathan Vilma was eager to get on the field and it did not take him long to make his first tackle. On 3rd and 12 from the 50, Saints QB Todd Bouman, starting in place of the injured Aaron Brooks (strained quad), scrambled and Vilma brought him down after a four-yard gain. Vilma finished the game with a team leading six tackles.

The Saints were forced to punt after going three and out and Justin McCareins let it bounce into the end zone for a touchback.

The Jets starting offense took the field and QB Chad Pennington looked very sharp, leading his team down the field. On the first play, Pennington handed off to RB Curtis Martin. Later during the drive, Martin broke off a 15 yard run. Later in the drive, a defensive pass interference on the Saints moved the ball from the Saints 28 to the 8. On 1st and goal, Pennington handed off to RB Johnathan Reese for a 4 yard gain. The next two plays saw Pennington try to hit Jonathan Carter and Justin McCareins in the left backend of the end zone on fade patterns unsuccessfully. Brien then came on to attempt a 22 yard field goal and split the uprights to give the Jets a 3-0 lead. The drive took 10 plays, 76 yards in 4:32. Both Pennington and Martin’s days were done. Pennington was 3-5 for 32 yards while Martin (who was promised by the Coaches more reps this pre-season) had only three carries for 20 yards.

The Saints’ second possession was no better than the first. After two runs by RB Deuce McAllister, Saints QB Todd Bouman threw an interception to S Jon McGraw. Coming into the game, McGraw was questionable with a calf injury. McGraw returned it nine yards to the New Orleans 38.

Having seen enough of Pennington, Head Coach Herman Edwards brought in Bollinger who was able to get some action with the first team offensive line but as in practice, he struggled, by overthrowing his receivers and fumbling to New Orleans during his first two posessions. The Jets defense was able to hold the Saints after the first fumble but couldn’t stop them after the second Bollinger miscue as Bouman completed a five play, 19 yard drive that took just over two minutes, capped off with a six-yard TD pass to Jerome Pathon, putting his team up 7-3.

Jets offensive coordinator Paul Hackett took no chances on the next drive, calling eight straight run plays. Back-up RB’s Johnathan Reese and Lamont Jordan did a nice job behind the blocking of the 2nd team offensive line. Reese impressed with 13 carries for 56 yards. But on 3rd and 5, rookie LT Adrian Jones let Jonathan Sullivan get past him to sack Bollinger for a nine-yard loss.

After a 36-yard Toby Gowin punt to the end zone for a touchback, the Saints took over at their own 20. During the drive, the Jets defense looked like the 2003 version as they missing several tackles. On 3rd and 9 from the Jets 21, rookie CB Jon Pendergrass was called for defensive holding, giving the Saints a first down. After not being able to get another first down, Saints K John Carney kicked a 36 yard field goal giving the Saints a 10-3 lead.

On the ensusing kickoff, RB Ian Smart broke a several tackles with a 28-yard return. Smart, getting a look at kick returner, had four returns for an average of 25 yards.

Bollinger gained back some dignity by next leading the Jets on a 11 play, 51 yard drive that took 5:17 and ended with a 27 yard Brien field goal. Highlights of the drive included a couple of nice catches by rookie WR Jerricho Cotchery and a 14 yard run by Lamont Jordan.

The Saints did have a chance to extend their lead before the half but were not able to score before the clock ran out and went into the lockerroom leading 10-6.

Edwards commented at halftime that the team had to work on not turning the ball over and eliminating penalties in the second half. The Jets got the ball to start the second half and Smart gave the Jets good field position with a 27 yard return.

Bollinger seemed more confident coming out of the lockerroom. During his first series in the second half he completed a nice pass to rookie WR Jerricho Cotchery for a 28 yard reception for a first down. Later, the Saints were called for a pass interference penalty on 3rd and 8, giving the Jets a first down.

On first down, Jordan ran for no game and a pass intended for TE John Paul Foschi fell incomplete on second down. On 3rd and 10, WR Matt Dominguez made a 14-yard grab for a first down. On the next play from the Saints’ 3, Jordan ran it in for a touchdown giving the Jets the lead back. Brien’s extra point was good and the Jets led 13-10. That would be it for Bollinger, who had his knee wrapped on the sideline but the injury was deemed not serious.

Besides punting, Gowin can also kickoff and next rocketed a 70 yard kickoff.

Replacing Bouman for the Saints was J.T. O’Sullivan in the second half. On 3rd and 8 from the Jets 17, it looked like Jason Glenn had intercepted a pass in the end zone but it was negated after defensive pass interference was called on Derek Pagel. The penalty proved costly as two plays later, RB Lamar Smith scored from one-yard out to give the Saints a 16-13 lead. Carney’s extra point made it 17-13.

Jets third-string QB Ricky Ray got a chance to show his stuff with 4:34 remaining in the third quarter and certainly did not help himself move up the depth chart by only completing 6 of 16 passes for 55 yards. Ray also threw an interception late in the fourth quarter and looked very uncomfortable while he was leading the offense.

The Saints Rob Hart added two field goals in the fourth quarter to make the final 23-13.

Jets rookie CB Roderick Bryant made a fumble recovery after CB Omare Lowe forced it. Unfortunately, the Jets could not convert the miscue into points,

Besides the shaky play from the backup QB’s the Jets should be concerned about their special teams coverage, as Saints kick returner Michael Lewis was able to break free numerous times. The Jets will also have to work on penalties, getting flagged six times for 51 yards. The young secondary showed their inexperience, getting burned for 200 passing yards.

While the Jets lost and there still is plenty of things to work on, the team should be happy with the play of Pennington and Martin and also got a look at many of the young players in game action.

The Jets next travel to Indianapolis on Saturday August 21st to take on the Colts. The game is at 8:00 PM and will be shown locally on CBS Channel 2. The team has tomorrow off then returns to practice on Sunday at 3:30 PM. As usual, Jets will be there so check back often for all of the latest training camp and team news.