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Man On Fire

By John Melillo
Jets Insider.com, Staff Writer
September 19th, 2004

For the second consecutive game, New York Jets RB Curtis Martin carried the team to victory in an exciting 34-28 win over the San Diego Chargers in Week 2. Martin was dynamic in the first quarter and a steady force for the remainder of the game, scoring the team’s first two touchdowns and finishing with 32 carries for 119 yards. While the Jets early offensive explosion may have jolted the Chargers, San Diego did not back down in their home opener at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.

For the second consecutive game, New York Jets RB Curtis Martin carried the team to victory in an exciting 34-28 win over the San Diego Chargers in Week 2. Martin was dynamic in the first quarter and a steady force for the remainder of the game, scoring the team’s first two touchdowns and finishing with 32 carries for 119 yards. While the Jets early offensive explosion may have jolted the Chargers, San Diego did not back down in their home opener at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.

After Martin opened the scoring floodgates with a one-yard plunge up the middle, rookie S Erik Coleman recorded his second interception of his NFL career by picking off QB Drew Brees. Martin and the Jets capitalized on Brees’ miscue with a 6-play, 44-yard drive that ended with Martin's second score from the two-yard line. The Jets offense threatened again later in the second quarter, but had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by PK Doug Brien after the officials ruled Pennington’s pass to TE Chris Baker in the end zone was incomplete. Nonetheless, the Jets were in the driver’s seat with a commanding 17-0 lead over the Chargers midway through the first half.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Chargers struck back with dangerous WR/KR Tim Dwight breaking an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to bring the score to 17-7. With the momentum and crowd on their side, the Chargers appeared ready to mount a comeback but neither team was able to pad their score for the remainder of the first half. The Jets did suffer a significant loss on defense when LB Sam Cowart got his leg tangled near the pile of a RB LaDainian Tomlinson run up the middle late in the second quarter. Cowart walked off the field under his own power, but did not return to the game. Rookie first-round pick LB Jonathan Vilma replaced Cowart at middle linebacker and finished the game with two tackles.

At the start of the third quarter, the Jets’ offense continued to click on all cylinders, highlighted by a 24-yard reception by FB Jerald Sowell. The seven-play, 51- yard drive was capped off with a 23-yard field goal by PK Doug Brien, which extended the Jets lead to 20-7. Pennington had a solid game statistically, finishing 22 of 29 for 258 yards and two touchdowns, but had a few ugly misfires during the game.

On the Chargers’ next possession, S Jon McGraw picked off QB Drew Brees, who struggled mightily this week by completing just 8 of 19 passes for 146 yards with 1 touchdown and two interceptions. Starting at midfield, Pennington and company capped off a nine play, 49-yard drive with a bootleg pass to FB Jerald Sowell for a touchdown. One of Pennington’s favorite targets was Sowell, who caught five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.

With a 20-point advantage, the Jets defense seemed to ease up on the Chargers next possession. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who finished the game with 163 total yards from scrimmage and one touchdown, caught a screen pass and raced past Jets defenders for 59 yards before being dragged down by S Erik Coleman inside the 15-yard line. The Jets defense stiffened in the red zone, but gave the Chargers a fresh set of downs following a personal foul penalty by McGraw’s hit on Brees. On the next play, Tomlinson scampered into the end zone to bring the score to 27-14.

The Chargers pulled to within six points of the Jets after a 33-yard strike from Brees to WR Reche Caldwell midway through the fourth quarter, but the Jets offense responded with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Pennington to TE Chris Baker to bring the score to 34-21.

With less than four minutes remaining in the game, Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer pulled QB Drew Brees from the game in favor of veteran QB Doug Flutie. Flutie led the Chargers on an 18-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in a 6-yard scoring scramble by Flutie up the middle. The Chargers attempted an on-side kick with 30 seconds remaining, but the Jets recovered.

RANDOM TIDBITS:

The special teams unit had an up-and-down performance this week. Fullback B.J. Askew, LB Darrell McClover, LB Kenyatta Wright and S Jon McGraw all had solid tackles on coverage units and S Erik Coleman recovered a fumble forced by LB Jason Glenn, but their performances were overshadowed by Dwight’s long return... DT Dewayne Robertson made his presence felt early by teaming with DE Shaun Ellis for a sack on Brees in the first quarter. Robertson later had a forced fumble on Tomlinson in the backfield, which Tomlinson recovered….WR Santana Moss quietly had a productive game, catching four passes for 97 yards, including a spectacular 48-yard grab….WR Jonathan Carter contributed to the offense with a 46-yard catch and run in the first half….WR Wayne Chrebet did not record a reception during the game, but clinched the victory with an on-side kick recovery late in the fourth quarter.

INJURY REPORT:

The Jets were without veteran LB Sam Cowart (knee) and C Kevin Mawae (hand) for the entire second half due to injuries. Cowart suffered a left knee injury, but walked off under his own power late in the first half. Mawae suffered an undisclosed hand injury and was replaced by C Jonathan Goodwin in the second half.

The team will have two weeks to prepare for their road game against the division rival Miami Dolphins Sunday, Oct. 3, since the team will have a BYE next Sunday. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com often for all the latest NY Jets news and reports.

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