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TALE OF TWO HALVES

By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 5th, 2004

QB Chad Pennington’s return as a starter was successful as the Jets won their third straight game, 29-7 over Houston. The Jets improve to 9-3.

QB Chad Pennington’s return as a starter was successful as the Jets won their third straight game, 29-7 over Houston. The Jets improve to 9-3.

In the first half, the Jets struggled, only scoring six points on two field goals.

But in the second half, the Jets shut out the Texans, 23-0 as everything clicked on offense and defense. For the defense, it was their sixth second half shut out of the season.

Pennington completed 20-of-27 passes for 155 yards, two touchdowns and one interceptions.

“It felt great being out on the field,” Pennington said.

Pennington appreciated the efforts of the offensive line.

“The line did a great job of keeping guys off me,” Pennington said.

C Kevin Mawae was glad to have Penningotn back.

“He did a wonderful job,” Mawae said. “It’s good to have him back. He did his job like we expect him to do.”

Martin is also glad Pennington is back.

“We knew we had to have a balanced attack and we did that,” Martin said. “I think we got back to playing Jets football this week.”

Houston could not stop the Jets running game as the Jets rushed for 210 yards. RB Curtis Martin had 134 of those yards on 23 carries. Martin rushed for a touchdown and caught another one.

Mawae was a big reason why Martin was able to have success today.

“It’s special when you get a guy over 100 yards,” Mawae said. “But to get over 200 total yards is very special. I have to give credit to those guys finding holes. They made some plays today.”

Pennington talked about how important the running game is.

“It sets the tempo,” Pennington said. “If you’re going to win, you have to run the ball well.”

“The offense rallied in the second half,” Jets Head Coach Herman Edwards said. “They were able to run the football and when you can do that, you can control the game.”

Houston received the ball to begin the game and QB David Carr drove his team down the field. On 3rd-and-8 from the Jets 31, James Reed picked up his first sack of the year. Reed finished with two sacks. The Texans decided to go for it and on 4th-and-10 from the Jets 33, Carr threw a pass intended for WR Andre Johnson in the end zone but it was broken up by CB David Barrett.

Pennington came onto the field for the first time since injuring his shoulder against Buffalo on November 7th and received loud cheers from the sold-out crowd at the Meadowlands. Pennington showed no signs of rust, completing his four passes on the drive. The drive stalled at the Texans 23 and K Doug Brien nailed a 41-yard field goal to give the Jets a 3-0 lead with 4:30 left in the first quarter.

The Jets defense came up huge on the next Houston possession as on 4th-and-5 from the Jets 37, S Erik Coleman broke up a pass intended for Johnson. Earlier in the drive, a 60-yard TD run by RB Domanick Davis was negated by a holding penalty on TE Mark Bruener. Carr hurt himself on the drive but only missed one play.

After taking over at their own 37, the Jets drove down to the Texans 8-yard-line. Brien came on again, and kicked a 26-yard field goal to give the Jets a 6-0 lead. The drive took 10 plays, 55 yards, and 5:53.

Houston scored their only touchdown of the day on their ensuing drive as Davis rushed for a two-yard score. Davis rushed for 42 yards in the first half but only 10 yards in the second half. Jets CB Terrell Buckley played a prominent role on the drive as he was beat by Johnson for a 37-yard reception on 1st and 10 from the Houston 38. On third-and-goal from the Jets 6, Buckley was called for illegal contact giving the Texans a fresh set of downs and moving the ball to the 2. The drive took 10 plays, 75 yards, and 5:53.

The last two minutes of the first half featured interceptions by both times.

On the first play after the two minute warning, Pennington’s pass intended for WR Justin McCareins was intercepted by CB Duanta Robinson who returned it 20 yards to the Jets 36 yard line.

After a one-yard rush by Davis, Carr’s pass intended for Johnson was intercepted by Barrett. Barrett had one of his best games in a Jet uniform, finishing with five tackles and one interception.

The Jets went into the locker room trailing 7-6.

“We talked at halftime and said we need to put touchdowns on the board,” Pennington said.

The second half was a completely different story as the Jets scored on four of their five possessions.

Edwards gave credit to the Jets defense.

“I thought our defense played well again,” Edwards said. “They took the run away and that enabled them to get after the passer.”

The only possession the Jets didn’t score on in the second half was their first as they punted the ball. Special teams came up huge as S Jon McGraw downed the ball at the three-yard line.

The Texans went three-and-out and had to punt from their own end zone. Holding was called on Houston on the first punt attempt and they had to re-do the punt.

WR Santana Moss returned the punt 46 yards, his longest of the season, to the Houston 4-yard-line. Edwards was happy for Moss.

“It’s good to see him break one,” Edwards said. “He’s a big play guy.”

Two plays later, Martin found his way into the end zone. Brien’s extra point sailed through the uprights giving the Jets a 13-7 lead with 7:59 left in the third quarter.

It was Martin scoring again on the Jets next possession as he caught a five-yard TD pass from Pennington. The Jets drove 80 yards in 11 plays and 6:10. The Jets went for two-point conversion and were unsuccessful as the pass intended for WR Wayne Chrebet was incomplete. The Jets led 19-7 with 13:30 left in the game.

Coleman came up huge, intercepting Carr’s pass intended for TE Billy Miller on the next Houston drive and returned it 37 yards to the Houston 40.

The Jets added to their lead as TE Anthony Becht caught a two-yard TD from Pennington. The play fooled the Texans defense as Pennington pretended to hand off to Martin before rolling to his right and finding a wide open Becht in the end zone. The Jets took a commanding 26-7 lead.

Brien’s 25-yard field goal with just over two minutes left capped off the Jets scoring.

After giving up nine first downs in the first half, the Jets allowed only four in the second half. The Jets limited the Texans to 76 yards in the second half.

Barrett talked about how the Jets defense has been able to do so well in the second half.

“We turn the volume up and are more physical,” Barrett said.

The Jets know they are in good position for the playoffs at 9-3, especially with Baltimore losing today. But they know they have to continue to play well.

“We definitely have a big test ahead of us,” Mawae said. “We’re playing well and playing with confidence.”

“It’s on everyone’s mind,” Martin said. “It’s like the old NFL saying ‘you win in December, and play in January.’ So we have to keep winning.”

Pennington feels the Jets can still improve.

“We’re not satisfied,” Pennington said. “We’re trying to make our own legacy.”

MISCELANEOUS GAME TIDBITS:

-The Jets inactives were LB Jason Glenn, QB Ricky Ray, LB Victor Hobson, WR Jerricho Cotchery, QB Brooks Bollinger, G Dave Yovanovits, T Marco Cavka, and DT Alan Harper.

-The Jets game captains were LB Kenyatta Wright, DE Shaun Ellis, G Jonathan Goodwin, QB Chad Pennington, CB Terrell Buckley, and WR Jonathan Carter.

-The Jets now have a 6-2 home record in the month of December.

-Brien’s three field goals gave him 200 for his career.

-Martin passed Pittsburgh’s Jerome Bettis for fifth-most rushing yards in NFL history. However, that may be short lived as Bettis plays tonight.

-The Jets have scored 20 or more points in five games this year.

-DE Shaun Ellis and DT Dewayne Robertson were tied for the team lead with six tackles.

-The Jets had six penalties for 49 yards.

-FB Jerald Sowell was the leading Jets receiver with five catches for 38 yards.

INJURY REPORT: Edwards said the only injury was to WE John Abraham, who sprained his right knee in the first half and did not return. Edwards said Abraham will get a MRI tomorrow which will determine the severity of the injury. Bryan Thomas did a nice job replacing Abraham.

The Jets go back on the road next week when they travel to Pittsburgh for a tough test against the Steelers at 4:05 p.m. Check back to Jets Insider.com often for all the latest information and news.

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