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Jets look to make statement against Pats

By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 24th, 2004
After losing the last three matchups to New England including a close 13-7 battle in October, the Jets are eager to conquer the defending Superbowl Champs and prove to the league that they are the real deal.

After losing the last three matchups to New England including a close 13-7 battle in October, the Jets are eager to conquer the defending Superbowl Champs and prove to the league that they are the real deal.

The last time these two teams met they were both 5-0. The Patriots won that game as the Jets made three big mistakes: FB Jerald Sowell losing a fumble at the New England 15; S Reggie Tongue getting flagged for being the 12th man on the field during a punt and DT Dewayne Robertson’s committing a late-hit penalty on Patriots QB Tom Brady.

At the end, the Jets still had a chance to win, driving to the Patriots 27. Jets QB Chad Pennington called a third-down draw play for RB Curtis Martin that lost three yards and under threw WR Wayne Chrebet on fourth down.

Jets head coach Herman Edwards talked about what the Jets learned from the game.

“When you have opportunities to make plays in big games, when you play in big games, you've got to do that,” Edwards said.

This week is a big game as well as there are playoff implications for both teams. The Patriots, who have already clinched the AFC East, can clinch a first round bye with a win this week while the Jets can clinch a playoff spot with a victory.

Martin talked about how important a win is.

“If we win, we’re going to the postseason and we need this type of confidence going into the playoffs,” Martin said. “We need that momentum, and this could create great momentum for us.”

It’s been an interesting week for Pennington. After the Jets win over Seattle on Sunday, he read a statement and refused to answer questions from the media. Then on Monday, he said he was just joking and trying to inconvenience the media.

Everything settled down by mid-week and Pennington and the Jets were able to focus on preparing for New England. In the earlier match-up against New England, Pennington was limited to 19-of-30 passing for 162 yards.

Last week against Seattle, Pennington had his best performance of the year, passing for 253 yards and three touchdowns. On the season, Pennington is 199-of-298 for 2,240 yards, 14 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

Pennington will have to be on target come Sunday. There has been a lot of talk that the Jets are conservative when they play good defenses and all Jets fans are hoping offensive coordinator Paul Hackett opens up the offense on Sunday.

Pennington talked about the improvement of the offense over the course of the season.

“I think that our line has become more cohesive, how they play and picking up protections and things like that,” Pennington said. “I think we understand as an offense now what we are trying to do. Early in the season, we were trying to get a feel for what type of offense we were going to be; now we know what type of offense we are. Now it is about execution. It is a match-up between an offense who understands who we are and a defense who understands what they are.”

A key match-up will be the Jets wide receivers against the Patriots secondary.

The Patriots secondary is vulnerable as starting CB’s Ty Law and Tyrone Poole are both injured. Law is doubtful this week with an injured foot. Asante Samuel and Randall Gay took their place but both are banged up as well. WR Troy Brown has played in nickel situations and has done a nice job with three interceptions.

Pennington talked about how Brown has been able to be effective on defense.

“What Troy has been able to do is he has done a great job of understanding zone defenses and then because he is receiver, when the quarterback makes an errant throw, he has great hands, but he doesn’t just knock it down, he has made interceptions,” Pennington said.

The Jets will also need to establish the running game. RB Curtis Martin surpassed the 1,500 yard mark last week and this year has 1,511 yards on 330 carries and 12 touchdowns. Martin was held to 70 yards on 22 carries in the first game with the Patriots. The Jets will also need to get Lamont Jordan the ball. The Jets are second in the NFL in rushing offense with 154.4 yards a game.

Martin talked about the difference between the Jets now from when they played New England earlier this year.

“We’ve matured as an offense and as a defense,” Martin said. “Our defense has been playing well all year, but just as a team, I think that we know what we’re capable of more so than what we were when we first played New England. We’ve got 14 games worth of experience, so I just think that we’re a better team.”

New England’s defense is ranked ninth in the NFL, allowing 312.5 yards a game. Pennington said the Jets have to take advantage of any opportunities New England gives them.

“The way they are playing defense, I don’t think they allow you to have one-on-one match-ups all the time,” Pennington said. “They do a great job of playing team defense and what we have to do is be patient and when we get our chances, you always get chances, you have to hit them. Against a good defense, you don’t get as many chances as you do say against when you are playing in a game like we had against Seattle. But when you do get those chances, you have to hit them.”

The Patriots are coming off an embarrassing 29 to 28 loss at Miami on Monday night. It was only their second loss of the season. In the loss, QB Tom Brady threw a career-high four interceptions. Edwards said that is uncharacteristic of Brady.

“That's not what he's about for what their team is about,” Edwards said. “So it's just one of those games. Players have those every once in a while, even great players have them. And generally when they have a game like that, they come back the next week and play very, very well.”

Brady has passed for 3,202 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions this year. He gave his keys to a victory against the Jets.

“It’s going to be important for us not to turn the ball over, not to give them any free possessions, and not to have too many negative plays in penalties to be a factor in that game,” Brady said in a conference call with the New York media earlier this week.

The Patriots also has a talented running back in Corey Dillon. He has rushed for 1,430 yards this season on 302 carries and 11 touchdowns. He has eight 100-yard games this year including a 115 yard performance against the Jets this season.

Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson has done an outstanding job this season as the Jets are ranked fifth in total defense, allowing 287.6 yards a game and second in the NFL, allowing 14.7 points a game. The Jets are the only team to hold the Patriots to under 20 points this year and are +17 in the takeaway/giveaway category. Last week, the Jets shut out Seattle in the second half, making it the seventh time this season the Jets have shut out an opponent in the second half. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gave credit to the Jets defense.

“They do a good job of game planning and taking advantage of the opponents’ weaknesses and creating favorable match-ups on their side,” Belichick said. “The execution is good and they’re a strong defensive team. They do a good job all the way around. They’re a lot faster and more athletic than they were last year. They play smart. They don’t give up many plays; you see a lot of communication and adjustments back there.”

Jets LB Eric Barton has really stepped up his play recently and leads the team with 107 tackles. He also has 2.5 sacks, an interception and three fumble recoveries. Henderson talked about what makes Barton so good.

“He can take a tendency that you give him,” Henderson said. “Once he sees it again, he communicates it to everybody. He’s playing with his pads down, attacking people and getting off blocks. He’s got a lot of energy.”

The Jets are 6-1 at home this season and Brady feels this game will be the Patriots toughest challenge.

“They are our toughest rival,” Brady said. “There is a lot of respect from our teammates towards the Jets’ player and the Jets’ coaches. They are very well coached, they play hard and they are having a great year.”

The Jets have lost three in a row to the Patriots and Martin expects a battle on Sunday.

“I expect this to be a fight, probably more so a fight than any other time because we’ve got two very, very hungry teams playing against one another,” Martin said.

Besides clinching a playoff spot, Edwards said a Jets victory would give his team a big boost.

“It gives you confidence in the fact that you beat one of the best teams in football,” Edwards said. “That always gives you confidence. And that's something that we haven't done. I think it's something that we have aspirations of trying to do. And it will be a good test for us. It will be a very difficult challenge for us. We understand that.”

MISCELANEOUS TIDBITS: Here are the four scenarios in which the Jets can clinch a playoff berth Sunday:
1. A Jets win.
2. Baltimore and Buffalo lose.
3. Buffalo, Denver, and Jacksonville lose.
4. Baltimore, Denver, and Jacksonville lose.

-The Jets are the second least penalized team in the NFL. They have been penalized 80 times this year for 598 yards.

-The Jets will honor Joe Klecko as they will retire his #73 in a halftime ceremony. Klecko talked about the honor. “It's kind of neat,” Klecko said. “I think the biggest thing, it really hasn't hit me, but a friend of mine mentioned it to me the other day. You know, Joe, if you get hit by a car leaving the stadium, it will be there forever, and your kids and grandkids will see it.”

-Martin needs one touchdown to establish the record for most TD in a single-season in team history. Martin is also three yards shy of breaking his team record for most rushing yards in a season (1,513 in 2001) and 80 yards from passing Eric Dickerson for fourth place on the NFL All-Time Rushing List.

INJURY REPORT: DE John Abraham remains out with a knee injury. Bryan Thomas will once again start in his place. LB Victor Hobson (ankle), who has been sidelined with a high ankle sprain, is listed as probable this week and Edwards anticipates he will play. G Pete Kendall is probable with a knee injury but practiced Thursday and Friday and will start Sunday.

-DE John Abraham (knee): Out
-G Pete Kendall (knee): Probable
-LB Victor Hobson (ankle): Probable

Game time is at 4:05 p.m. Sunday. Local TV is CBS Channel 2 and local Radio is on 1050 ESPN Radio. Check back often to Jets Insider.com for all the latest Jets/Patriots news and reports.

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