CuMart Blue Light Special

By Justin Paley
Jets Staff Writer
September 12th, 2004

The Jets put on an offensive spectacle Sunday for a packed home opening day crowd that was highlighted by RB Curtis Martin breaking his September slump and rushing for nearly 200 yards and QB Chad Pennington throwing for 2 TD’s. However, in the end with the game on the line, it was a rookie that locked it up for Gang Green.

The Jets put on an offensive spectacle Sunday for a packed home opening day crowd that was highlighted by RB Curtis Martin breaking his September slump and rushing for nearly 200 yards and QB Chad Pennington throwing for 2 TD’s. However, in the end with the game on the line, it was a rookie that locked it up for Gang Green.

With two minutes remaining in the game, the Bengals had the ball on the Jets 49 yard line, trailing 31-24. QB Carson Palmer dropped back to pass and threw a pass intended for WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh. But rookie Safety Erik Coleman stepped in front of the pass and intercepted it, sealing the opening day win for the sell out home crowd.

“I just tried to stay patient and he threw it low,” Coleman said about his interception. Coleman got the start in place of the injured Jon McGraw and made the most of his opportunity.

The game started off as bad as possible for the Jets when Jonathan Carter fumbled away the opening kick which led to a quick Bengals TD. However, once the team settled down, the NY offense exploited a weak Cincinatti defense all afternoon. It started early as Pennington led an eight play, 68 yard drive that took 3:48 in the first quarter, topped off by a three-yard screen pass to RB Curtis Martin that tied the score at seven. Later in the first quarter, Pennington hooked up with WR Jonathan Carter for a 46 yard touchdown, putting the Jets up 14-7. It was redemption for Carter who fumbled the opening kickoff of the game, which the Bengals recovered and converted off of when Rudi Johnson ran in for a nine-yard TD.

Pennington finished the afternoon completing 20 of 27 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. The fifth year QB said it’s the team’s expectations to put up a lot of points every game. Pennington was just happy to be on the field.

“Opening day is something special,” Pennington said.

The last time Martin had a multiple touchdown game was in 2001 when he ran for three touchdowns against Kansas City. This afternoon, Martin had 29 carries for 196 yards and a touchdown rushing and three receptions for seven yards and a touchdown. Martin didn’t have his first 100 yard game last year until game seven. Martin’s late 24-yard rushing TD in the fourth quarter was the difference in the game. The classy veteran said the offensive line did a magnificent job.

After multiple previous seasons with slow starts, CuMart savored his excellent performance while staying humble.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Martin said. “ I know I was better prepared than in the past and it’s nice to see my hard work pay off.”

Edwards talked about the key to the win.

“We kept our poise,” the HC said. “I talked to the team about that before the game.”

The Jets defense seemed to still be adjusting to the new defensive system looked dicey at times. They allowed Palmer to pass for 248 yards and two touchdowns, including a 53 yard score to WR Peter Warrick in the fourth quarter. The run defense also needs to improve after letting RB Rudi Johnson rush for 70 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

While the D is certainly a work in progress it had positives as well such as LB Sam Cowart looking like the Cowart of his Buffalo Bills days. Thriving in his natural middle LB position after being on the outside the previous two seasons, the Veteran had a dominating 14 tackles and forced a Bengals fumble by Rudi Johnson that CB Donnie Abraham picked up and ran back for a 41 yards TD to give the Jets a 21-10 lead. It was the first fumble recovery ran back for a touchdown by the Jets defense since November 8, 2001 when Mo Lewis did it against the Bills.

Cowart has been feeling the heat of rookie LB Jonathan Vilma since he was drafted this past April however he’s not ready to relinquish his starting job just yet. Back at MLB he showed today that he still has a lot in the tank and spoke of his momentum turning forced fumble.

“We forced some turnovers and that’s always one of the goals of the defense,” Cowart said.

DE John Abraham had the lone sack of the day on Palmer, for a ten-yard loss. After the game, After the game, Abe assessed the defensive performance.

“We had some flashes of greatness but we need to be more consistent on making plays,” said Abraham.

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS: NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg was named honorary captain of the Jets for the 2004 season....The six Jets inactive for the opener were FS Jon McGraw, RB Johnathan Reese, CB Roderick Bryant, LB Mark Brown, RT Marco Cavka, and DE Bryan Thomas....Coach Herm Edwards started Reggie Tongue at SS while Rookie Eric Coleman stepped in for McGraw at FS. The Coach had originally told the media that Tongue would play FS and Coleman would be at SS....The Jets wore their white road uniforms today and Edwards said the decision was made because of the hot weather…WR Wayne Chrebet made two catches for 21 yards. Chrebet talked about how he was feeling before the game. “I was nervous with excitement,” Chrebet said. “I couldn’t wait to get in there.”....Team captains for the game were Pennington, Martin, Donnie Abraham, LB Kenyatta Wright, and DE Shaun Ellis....Edwards said there were no new apparent injuries.

The Jets hope to take their momentum on the road next week when they travel to the West Coast to face the San Diego Chargers. The improving Chargers won their opener today on the road against the Houston Texans 27-20 behind the 121 rushing yards of RB LaDainian Tomlinson.

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