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Thrilling Finish

By John Melillo
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
September 3rd, 2004

The Jets were slow out of the gates in their preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles Friday night, but made a furious comeback to win 28-27 behind the impressive performance of QB Brooks Bollinger.

The Jets were slow out of the gates in their preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles Friday night, but made a furious comeback to win 28-27 behind the impressive performance of QB Brooks Bollinger.

The much-maligned Bollinger, who has struggled throughout training camp this year, finished 11 of 20 for 168 and two touchdowns, including the game winner to WR Matt Dominguez on third-and-goal with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game.

“Brooks did a great job,” coach Herm Edwards said. “We told him to run a two-minute when he went in and after the first touchdown, you can see the momentum shift in the game.”

Bollinger’s performance all but assured him a roster spot on opening day and likey spelled the end to Ricky Ray’s tenure. Ray saw no action this evening and will likely be on the Jets waiver list this week.

“We know (Brooks) is a good quarterback,” Edwards said. “When the game starts, he runs around and makes plays. He showed good poise and leadership in the huddle during the game.”

For the first 53 minutes of the game, the Jets looked sluggish and unimpressive. As expected, QB Chad Pennington was limited to just the first two series of the game, competing 3 of 5 passes for 11 yards. Pennington kept everything short, hitting RB LaMont Jordan in the flat on consecutive passes. The first-team offense made a quick exit midway through the first quarter, but Jordan remained in the game into the third period. The fourth-year back was heavily utilized throughout the evening, rushing for 61 yards on 12 carries. He also had four receptions for 16 yards. After fumbling a pitch by QB Quincy Carter deep in their own territory, Jordan redeemed himself on the next play, breaking an 18-yard run up the middle.

Backup QB Quincy Carter made his debut midway through the first quarter, resulting in an up-and-down performance. But for the majority of the night, Carter appeared uncomfortable and out-of-sync with his receivers.

“The receivers are going to have to get used to catching his ball because he throws it pretty fast,” Edwards said.

Dominguez found out just how fast Carter can throw, bobbling a short pass that was intercepted by Eagles CB (Haw?) deep in Jets’ territory. The Eagles capitalized on the next play, as QB Ty Detmer hit WR Greg Lewis for a 30-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone. Lewis beat S Reggie Tongue in coverage.

Carter was impressive on his second series, leading the Jets on an 80-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 9-yard scoring reception by rookie WR Jerricho Cotchery over the middle. The highlights of the drive included a 23-yard strike to Ricks down the middle of the field on a beautifully designed naked bootleg and a 14-yard scramble before Cotchery’s touchdown. Carter completed 9 of 21 passes for 77 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his debut. Carter was also sacked twice.

“I thought Carter did a great job on the 80-yard touchdown drive,” Edwards said. “He displayed his mobility too, which was good to see.”

Others who stood out on offense against the Eagles included TE Mikhael Ricks, who led the team with five receptions for 43 yards. Ricks also had a solid block on a 21- yard counter run by Jordan in the first half. WR Ken-Yon Rambo might have solidified a roster spot tonight after becoming Bollinger’s favorite target in the second half. Rambo finished with four receptions for 103 yards, including a 52-yard catch and run on a slant that ignited the shift in momentum.

Those who hurt their cause on offense were rookie OT Adrian Jones, who struggled mightily with the speed rush and also called for an illegal formation penalty. FB Little John Flowers fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half and didn’t distinguish himself late in the game. RB/KR Ian Smart had an up-and-down performance with a touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to cut the Eagles’ lead to 27-21, but muffed an earlier punt that was fortunately recovered by backup S Derek Pagel.

Defensively, the line played stout run defense and held Eagles RB Dorsey Levens in check, as he rushed for just 37 yards on 12 carries. DE John Abraham had a nice tackle for loss early in the first quarter and DT James “Tank” Reed knifed through the line for a would-be sack of QB Ty Detmer for a 10-yard loss later in the half, but it was nullified by a penalty for intentional grounding on Detmer. LB Jason

CB David Barrett was victimized for large chunks of yards during the first half, getting burned by Detmer and the Eagles reserve wide outs. On the other hand, rookie CB Derrick Strait displayed solid man coverage with 2 passes defended and leading the team in tackles (5). Strait was later guilty for pass interference in the end zone during the fourth quarter, which led to an Eagles score. Rookie teammate CB Roderick Bryant, who flashed his potential throughout camp, came up with the defensive play of the game for the Jets with an interception off QB Jeff Blake in the fourth quarter. Bryant’s performance did not surprise Coach Edwards.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Edwards said. “The thing is, the NFL is not too big for him. He’s not overwhelmed by it. He’s just going to get better as the season goes on.”

Overall, Edwards believed the team’s performance in the preseason was productive and encouraging.

“We ran the ball well (this preseason),” Edwards said. “We put pressure on the quarterback, forced some turnovers. I think we weren’t as consistent as we’d like to be in the passing game, aside from Bollinger’s late-game performance. I liked the progress we made this summer.”

RANDOM TIDBITS: Players who were active but didn’t participate in tonight’s game included RB Derrick Ward, WR Jonathan Carter, QB Ricky Ray, OT Lance Nimmo and OT Brent Smith.

The Jets now prepare for their home opener against the Bengals next Sunday. The team has the weekend off and returns to practice on Monday. Check back to Jets Insider.com often for all of the latest news leading up to opening day!

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