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Steady Excellence
By John Melillo
Jets Insider.com, Staff Writer
October 3rd, 2004

The Jets 17-9 victory over their division rival Miami Dolphins featured both a new and old story for Gang Green. With 90-degree temperature at kickoff in Pro Player Stadium, RB Curtis Martin and an aggressive defense dominated the home team for most of the afternoon.

The Jets 17-9 victory over their division rival Miami Dolphins featured both a new and old story for Gang Green. With 90-degree temperature at kickoff in Pro Player Stadium, RB Curtis Martin and an aggressive defense dominated the home team for most of the afternoon. The Jets were propelled by four takeaways and the consistent running of Martin, who rushed for 110 on 24 carries in the game. Martin’s 100-yard day was the 50th of his career. Martin also eclipsed the 12,000-yard rushing mark, moving past former Buffalo Bills RB Thurman Thomas for 10th place on the all-time rushing list. The future Hall of Fame running back’s consistency has become a staple of this year’s team and a major reason why the Jets are off to an undefeated 3-0 start.

On the opening kickoff, RB/KR LaMont Jordan had a 30-yard return to set up good field position for the initial drive. The offense, however, failed to take advantage. The offense, with C Kevin Mawae starting at his usual position, were able to get into scoring territory, but surrendered a crucial third-down sack to Dolphins DE David Bowens, which knocked them out of field goal position.

The Miami’s offense, led by QB Jay Fiedler, found similar problems moving the ball effectively, going three and out on their first two possessions. On the Jets’ third drive, the Jets were given great field position after a dazzling 24-yard punt return by WR Santana Moss. Pennington and the offense then found its rhythm, leading to a 1-yard goal line plunge by RB Curtis Martin to take a 7–0 lead.

The much-maligned Dolphins offense, which has been decimated by injuries and inconsistency at quarterback, responded with their own scoring drive. Talented Dolphins TE Randy McMichael had three receptions on the drive, including a 20-yard catch and run, to get his team into scoring territory with a 37-yard field goal by PK Olindo Mare.

In the second quarter, a beautifully thrown pass by Pennington to WR Wayne Chrebet for 31 yards highlighted the Jets’ next possession. Yet, the promising drive stalled and the team was forced to punt. Worthy of note was OG Pete Kendall moving to center for a brief period with C Kevin Mawae moving to Kendall’s guard position. Mawae had been hampered by a hand injury and was a question mark heading into the game. P Toby Gowin pinned the Dolphins offense deep inside their own territory, but the defense lost containment on a inside run by RB Leonard Henry, who busted down the sideline for 53 yards. After Fiedler scrambled and was tackled short of the first down, the Dolphins settled for another Mare field goal to cut the Jets’ lead to 7-6.

With the first half winding down, the Jets offense had a tough decision to make at the Dolphins’ 36-yard line. Facing fourth down, coach Herm Edwards decided to send out PK Doug Brien, who nailed a 53-yard field goal, his career long on a grass field. The Jets did receive a scare with less than 2 minutes remaining as a Pennington pass over the middle was picked off by S Arturo Freeman, whose return set up first and goal for the Dolphins offense. With their backs to the ball, the Jets defense stiffened in the red zone, forcing the Dolphins to settle for a third Mare field goal, bringing the score to 10-9 at halftime. The Pennington misfire was his first interception of the season. Pennington finished 14 of 24 for 143 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

The Jets had a difficult time moving the ball in the second half, punting five consecutive times against a heralded Miami defense. However, it was the Jets defense that took center stage in the second half, forcing four turnovers, including two interceptions and a touchdown. Veteran CB Donnie Abraham displayed his ball-hawking skills, stepping in front of a Fiedler pass and returning it 66 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter. Linebacker Victor Hobson also got into the act, picking off a Fiedler pass intended for FB Rob Konrad. Arguably, the defensive MVP was DE John Abraham, who recorded two sacks, forcing one fumble and recovering another late in the game to seal the victory. Abraham finished the game with three tackles, sharing the team-high with DE Shaun Ellis and DT Jason Ferguson. Overall, the defensive was stellar throughout the game, holding Fiedler to just 202 yards passing. Exluding Henry's 53-yard scamper, the Miami running back ran for just 32 yards on 17 carries.

RANDOM TIDBITS:

The aforementioned Mawae wore a cast and snapped with his left hand...Unheralded P Toby Gowin had a stellar performance versus the Dolphins, launching several kicks deep into Miami territory. Gowin punted eight times with a long of 54 yards…The Dolphins offense, which ranks among the worst in the league, held the advantage in total yards from scrimmage over the Jets, 293-235….Offensive coordinator Paul Hackett will emphasis converting third downs in practice this week after an abysmal 1-of-11 vs. Miami.

The Jets return home for their next game against another division rival, the Buffalo Bills. Check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest team news and reports.