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Mahi Mahi

By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
October 29th, 2004

It will be a battle of division rivals on Monday night when the Jets and Miami Dolphins meet at the Meadowlands. The Jets are looking to get back to their winning ways after last week’s 13-7 loss to New England while the Dolphins picked up their first win of the season last week against the Rams and will try to get revenge for the Jets 17-9 win in Miami last month.

It will be a battle of division rivals on Monday night when the Jets and Miami Dolphins meet at the Meadowlands. The Jets are looking to get back to their winning ways after last week’s 13-7 loss to New England while the Dolphins picked up their first win of the season last week against the Rams and will try to get revenge for the Jets 17-9 win in Miami last month.

The last time the Jets and Dolphins met on Monday Night Football was in 2000 and it was a classic. The Jets trailed 30-7 entering the fourth quarter but came all the way back to force overtime before winning, 40-37. The game was voted the “Greatest Game in Monday Night Football history” in 2002 and will be forever know as the “Monday Night Miracle”.

Jets CB Donnie Abraham talked about what it means to be playing on MNF.

“It is a special game,” Abraham said. “You are the only two teams playing so there are some things that make it special and it is going to be another special night.”

The Jets offense is one of the best in the league led by QB Chad Pennington. Pennington is 126-for-182 for 1,313 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions this season. He is also the most accurate passer in the AFC with a 62.9% completion rate. Pennington talked about getting back on track after last week’s loss to the Patriots.

“Any time you come off of a loss, you have to guard against letting that build and turn into a second loss,” Pennington said. “You don’t want that to happen. You don’t want to make losing a habit. It is important for us not to lose two back-to-back and make sure we come out focused and energized and win another football game.”

Pennington knows the importance of division games.

“I think you go in with the mindset when you play a division opponent is that you can’t give them anything easy,” Pennington said. “Mistakes against division opponents are magnified because they know you so well and you give them just a little bit of breath of life. That is a big turnaround in the game. Turnovers and negative plays are huge in division games because the games are so tight and the teams know each other so well there is little room for error.”

One of the keys to Pennington’s success has been the protection by the offensive line, which has allowed only six sacks. Jonathan Goodwin has done a nice job filling in for RG Brandon Moore the past two weeks. Moore, who injured his hamstring, against Buffalo, is questionable but there are indications he may return on Monday.

The Jets o-line also continues to do a nice job of opening up holes for RB Curtis Martin. Martin, who passed Jim Brown for seventh on the NFL All-Time Rushing List last week, has 683 yards on 152 carries and six touchdowns this season. Jets C Kevin Mawae knows the Dolphins won’t be easy.

“It is going to be tough,” Mawae said. “It is on the national stage on a Monday night so everyone is going to be juiced up for this one on both sides of the ball.”

Martin rushed for 110 yards earlier this year against the Dolphins and should not have another solid performance on Monday as the Dolphins defensive line is banged up.

“There are some games where the passing game is real good and the running game is real good,” Martin said. “We just have to put that together and have a complete game as an offense.”

Despite their 1-6 record, the ‘Fins defense is second in the NFL, allowing 143.6 yards through the air. Pennington will have to look for ways to exploit the Dolphins secondary. WR Justin McCareins showed why the Jets gave up a second-round draft pick to get him in the off-season, by catching six passes for 83 yards last week. McCareins leads the team with 260 yards. Jets Head Coach Herman Edwards likes McCareins progression.

“He’s gained a lot of confidence in what we’re asking him to do in the offense,” Edwards said. “He works hard, he’s tough, and not afraid to block.”

Expect WR Wayne Chrebet to get involved as well as he has a history of big games against the Dolphins.

Against the run, the Dolphins are fourth in the NFL, allowing 274 yards a game. If the Jets offense can move the ball, they have a good shot at winning.

An emphasis in practice this week has been improving play of the defensive backfield. The Jets are ranked 18th in the NFL, allowing 217 passing yards a game. The Jets secondary has many new players and there has been a lot of miscommunication that has led to big pass plays by opponents. This week, defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson spent more time working with the secondary and rookie CB Erik Coleman feels it can only help.

“Being a young guy, I need all the help I can get,” Coleman said. “If a coach at his position can come in and help me, it is good for the secondary and it is good for the team.”

The Jets D will have the challenge of stopping WR Chris Chambers, who missed the earlier match-up with the Jets, and TE Randy McMichael. Chambers has 25 receptions for 307 yards and three TD’s while McMichael’s has caught 35 passes for 448 yards and two TD’s. Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler talked about how Chambers allows the ‘Fins to open up the passing game.

“Chris has always been a big-play type of receiver,” Fielder said. “The ability to run the ball over the past few weeks has allowed us to get a little bit more one-on-one situations with Chris to open up his big-play plate.”

Fielder was impressive in last week’s win over the Rams, completing 13 of 17 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. On the year, Fielder is 68 of 127 for 838 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. Fielder says the Dolphins have remained confident despite being 1-6.

“I didn’t see anyone down here lose any confidence in what we are trying to accomplish,” Fielder said. “You would think a 0-6 team would be moping around, feeling sorry for themselves. But I’ve spent a number of years down here with these same guys. We’ve kept the confidence level up. You haven’t seen any bickering between guys on the team and it’s refreshing to see.”

The Jets front four will look to contain RB Sammy Morris, who has come on strong as of late. After only rushing for eight yards the first five weeks of the season, Morris ran for 91 yards against Buffalo and 83 yards against the Rams last week. Fiedler feels having Morris back in the line-up is huge. “In a couple of weeks, we were able to see the running game improve dramatically from what we were able to do from the beginning of the season,” Fielder said.

DE John Abraham is having an outstanding season, leading the AFC with 7.5 sacks. Miami Head Coach Dave Wannstedt praised Abraham earlier this week.

“I’ve loved him since the day he came out of college,” Wannstedt said. “He’s one of my favorites. He’s a lot like Jason Taylor, kind of an undersized defensive end that has a lot of God-given ability. But the thing I love about Abraham, just like Jason, is that those guys play as hard – if you didn’t know who he was and you watched the film, you’d say hey, No. 94, the way he chases the ball and the way he plays, I want that guy on my team.”

The Jets have done a nice job forcing turnovers and lead the AFC with a plus-nine ratio in the take-away/give-away category. Edwards has been impressed by the defense’s confidence and being accountable to each other.

Edwards feels field position will be key on Monday night. P Toby Gowin will have to do a better job as he is last in the AFC and second to last in the AFC with a 37.8 yard per punt average. Gowin has handled the kickoff duties for the Jets as well. Edwards said to take some of the burden off his leg, Gowin and K Doug Brien will kick off. Gowin knows he has not performed well this season.

“I am inconsistent,” Gowin said. “At times, I have felt good. At times, obviously I am not getting my job done like I should. I have to go back out this week and work on it. I feel like I have been punting better in practice. It is just a matter of a time before it all comes together during a game.”

Edwards feels the records mean nothing when division opponents meet up.

“I believe any time you play a team in your division it's always that way because they know you,” Edwards said. “You always feel like -- you play them so much, twice a year, that you know their players, they kind of know you. If the same coach has been there, you know their system, they know your system, they know your players.”

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS: The Jets lead the all-time series, 39-37-1…The Jets are 15-18 all-time on Monday night…Edwards is 9-2 in November with the Jets…LB Sam Cowart is still listed as questionable but will likely be out on Monday. There have been some rumblings around the Jets complex that rookie Jonathan Vilma will stay the starter even after Cowart is fully recovered…..Look for veteran Terrell Buckley to get some more playing time at corner due to the inconsistent play of David Barrett….Jon McGraw may start at SS for the struggling Reggie Tongue. Even if he doesn’t start, McGraw will see much increased play time.

INJURY REPORT
-LB Jason Glenn (forearm): Out
-LB Sam Cowart (knee): Questionable
-CB Derrick Strait (foot): Questionable
-S Rashad Washington (foot): Questionable
-G Brandon Moore (hamstring): Questionable

Game time is at 9 PM on Monday. Local TV is ABC Channel 7 and local Radio is on 1050 ESPN Radio. Check back often to Jets Insider.com for all the latest Jets/Dolphins news and reports.

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