Digging for gold
By Justin Paley
Jets Staff Writer
October 15th, 2004

The Jets look to remain undefeated and improve to 5-0 for the first time in team history when they host the San Francisco 49ers (1-4) on Sunday at the Meadowlands for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

The Jets look to remain undefeated and improve to 5-0 for the first time in team history when they host the San Francisco 49ers (1-4) on Sunday at the Meadowlands for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

It will be the first meeting between the teams since 2001 when the 49ers won, 19-17.

The Jets offense will look to exploit a banged up 49ers defense, that has allowed 137 points in five games.

QB Chad Pennington is 87-for-122 and 929 yards and five touchdowns this year. Pennington feels the 49ers will still be tough.

“I think they can be dangerous defensively because they play fast,” Pennington said. “Their linebackers are very fast and they make plays. They are dangerous because they can wreak havoc and they can cause disruption and mess up your timing and rhythm.”

RB Curtis Martin has carried the ball 107 times for 502 yards and also is the Jets leading receiver with 19 receptions for 86 yards.

FB Jerald Sowell has done a nice job being the lead blocker for Martin and catching the ball out of the backfield with 18 catches for 125 yards. Pennington feels the offensive system is still working despite the top two receivers are backs.

“Our first indication that the offense is working is that we win,” Pennington said. “Two, I think another indication that our offense is working is (we have) a balanced attack. For four games, we have had a fairly balanced attack. People get caught up in the passing game with the West Coast offense but the goal is always to be 50-50 to where each side works in accordance with each other.”

The Jets offense may be missing WR Santana Moss, who is questionable after hurting his hamstring in the win over the Bills. Edwards talked about the Jets game plan if Moss is not able to play.

“Spread the ball around,” Edwards said. “In our offense, you try to spread the ball around anyway. That’s what we’ll have to do.

If Moss can’t go, WR Wayne Chrebet will start. Chrebet had an outstanding game against the Bills last week, with eight receptions for 90 yards.

WR Jonathan Carter and rookie WR Jerricho Cotchery will also have to step up. Cotchery earned praise from Edwards during training camp but has been silent so far. Cotchery was voted as special teams player of the week by his teammates after the Bills game.

The Jets o-line was shaken up a bit as both LG Pete Kendall (foot) and RG Brandon Moore (hamstring) will be out with injuries. Starting in Kendall’s place will be Brent Smith, who started all 16 games last year at RG and Jonathan Goodwin will make his first career start filling in for Moore.

In last week’s comeback win over Arizona, the 49ers lost their best defensive player, LB Julian Peterson, with a torn ACL. 49ers head coach Dennis Erickson talked about the loss of Peterson.

“When you lose a guy like Julian, as far as a player is concerned, he was the leader of our defense and rallied everybody,” Erickson said.

“That’s what he did the last four weeks when we were getting our rear ends beat, he was a guy that rallied everybody and kept everybody going. When you lose him, you miss him on the field but you miss him a heck of a lot off the field. That’s something that we just have to try and compensate for.”

The 49ers also have a player named Brandon Moore who will be Peterson’s replacement. He will make his first start of the season and fourth start of his three-year career. Moore is from Freeport, NY and grew up watching his older brother Rob play WR for the Jets from 1990-1994. Erickson is confident in Moore.

“Brandon’s a tough linebacker; he’s not as athletic and as fast as Julian,” Erickson said. “He brings quite a bit of different things to the table as far as that goes. He’s very physical.”

49ers LB’s Derek Smith and Saleem Rasheed are both expected to miss the game as well with injuries.

San Francisco has been forced to use 14 different combinations on the defensive line during the first five games because of injuries. They have allowed 107 yards per game on the ground.

Defensively, the Jets have improved every game under Defensive Coordinator Donnie Henderson. DE John Abraham leads the AFC with six sacks and has been doing an outstanding job.

“In his mind he's just being more aggressive, he's playing the blocks better, he's getting off blocks, running to the ball,” Edwards said of Abraham. “I just think in his mind, and he said this, he's going to have his best year. He said it during the off season. He's doing it.”

The Jets run defense has improved tremendously from last season and last week, they limited Bills RB Travis Henry to 33 yards on 12 carries. This week, they will have to contain Kevan Barlow, who has rushed for 288 yards and 2 td’s this season. However, the 49ers are averaging only 87.2 yards per game running the ball.

DE Shaun Ellis talked about the difference between this year and last year.

“We are not giving up a lot of explosive plays as we have in the past,” Ellis said. “Overall, it is an overall team effort. Guys want to do the right thing and want to do well on defense.”

Abraham added, “I think everyone is trying to get to the ball,” Abraham said. “I think the biggest thing is we are making the tackle when we get there the first time instead of getting a lot of missed tackles and letting them run for the three or four yards that we gave before. If we make the tackle when we can, usually we will be pretty good on the line.”

QB Tim Rattay leads the 49ers offense. This season, he has passed for 891 yards, 6 td’s, and thrown 2 interceptions. Rattay led a 16 point comeback last week while throwing a career high 38 passes for 417 yards.

“He’s got a real good arm, he’s very accurate and he understands the game,” Erickson said about Rattay. “He doesn’t make very many mistakes and he knows where to go with the football. He’s got great anticipation.”

The Jets secondary will be missing CB Derrick Strait who is out for the second straight week with a fractured foot. Terrell Buckley will probably get the start in his place and Roderick Bryant should see action as well.

The 49ers WR’s have not performed well. Former Jet Curtis Conway has 24 receptions for 261 yards and a TD. Rattay is pleased with Conway’s performance so far.

“He’s been everything we wanted when we got him,” Rattay said. “He’s a solid guy, a veteran, to help these young guys. You’re always going to get whatever he has in practice, games. “

WR Cedrick Wilson has caught 20 passes for 225 yards and a TD. TE Eric Johnson is questionable with cracked ribs and leads the team with 41 receptions for 460 yards and 2 TD’s.

Although the Jets are 4-0, they have had trouble putting away teams and Edwards addressed that earlier this week.

“You make the plays, like I say, the missed opportunities,” the HC said. “You have to make those plays. You don't drop interceptions, you don't drop passes. You don't do that. You don't turn the ball over when you're in scoring position. When you do all those things right, the missed opportunities, that's how you finish teams off. You don't let them hang around.”


-LB Sam Cowart (knee): Out
-SS Rashad Washington (foot): Out
-LG Pete Kendall (foot): Out
-CB Derrick Strait (foot): Out
-RG Brandon Moore (hamstring): Out
-WR Santana Moss (hamstring): Questionable

Kickoff is 1PM EST. Local TV is on FOX Channel 5. Local radio is on 1050AM ESPN Radio. Check back to Jets for all the latest NY Jets news.