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By Justin Paley
Jets Staff Writer
January 8th, 2005

For the second time this season, the Jets went to San Diego and for the second time this season, the Jets came away with a victory as K Doug Brien hit a 28-yard field goal in overtime and the Jets defeated the San Diego Chargers, 20-17 to advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Jets season will last at least another week while the Chargers season ends.

For the second time this season, the Jets went to San Diego and for the second time this season, the Jets came away with a victory as K Doug Brien hit a 28-yard field goal in overtime and the Jets defeated the San Diego Chargers, 20-17 to advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Jets season will last at least another week while the Chargers season ends.

Jets head coach Herman Edwards was happy with his team’s performance.

“I just think our whole team had mental fortitude and toughness,” Edwards said.

Coming into the game, there were questions about QB Chad Pennington. Could he win the big game? Would he be able to complete throws downfield? Pennington silenced the critics, completing 23-of-33 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns.

“If I just trust myself, good things will happen,” Pennington said.

WR Santana Moss caught four passes for 100 yards and a TD and WR Justin McCareins caught eight passes for 87 yards. Pennington talked about the play of his receivers.

“They just concentrate on defense so well,” Pennington said. “They stay patient, know how to run routes. They are true team players and play hard every snap. I’m just thrilled for them.”

McCareins had full trust in his QB.

“We had no doubt in what type of player and man he is,” McCareins said. “He’s taken a lot of heat. He did his thing and I’m proud of him. He did a great job for us.”

The Jets also did a nice job on the ground as RB Curtis Martin and RB Lamont Jordan combined for 116 yards.

The Jets received the ball to begin the game. They moved the ball down the field, nicely, with long completions to Moss (16 yards) and McCareins (16 yards). However, the drive stalled at the Chargers 14 and Brien came on to attempt a 33-yard field goal. The kick was wide right as the sloppy field conditions may have had something to do with the hold.

The teams traded punts on their next two possessions.

The Chargers were able to put up the first points of the game early in the second quarter as WR Keenan McCardell caught a 26-yard TD pass from QB Drew Brees. McCardell made a nice catch in the back of the end zone, getting both feet down, beating CB David Barrett and S Erik Coleman, who were in zone coverage. Originally the pass was called incomplete as the referees said McCardell did not have possession of the ball but Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer challenged the call and it was reversed. The drive went 88 yards in 13 plays and 8:25. The drive featured a heavy does of RB LaDainian Tomlinson who carried seven times for 39 yards. Brees was five-for-five for 61 yards during the drive. Nate Kaeding’s extra point sailed through the uprights and the Chargers led 7-0 with 9:26 left in the second quarter.

The Jets answered two possessions later as Pennington hooked up with wide-open TE Anthony Becht for a 13-yard TD. The catch was only his 14th of the year and second TD catch. The Jets received excellent field position at the SD 37. The key play on the drive was a 21-yard completion to McCareins on 3rd-and-9 from the Chargers 36. Brien’s extra point tied the game at 7 with 2:54 left in the first half.

The Jets defense came up big on the next possession as S Reggie Tongue intercepted Brees’ pass intended for McCardell at the Jets 22 and returned it 22 yards to the Jets 44.

But the Jets were unable to take advantage of the turnover as they went three and out.

After Toby Gowin’s punt, the Chargers received the ball at their own 11 with 22 seconds left in the first half. They played it safe, giving the ball to Tomlinson three times and the teams went into the locker rooms tied at 7.

Pennington came up big on the Jets first drive of the second half, completing all three of his passes for 68 yards, capped off by a 47 yard TD pass to Moss. On the TD pass, Pennington fooled the Chargers defense with a beautiful play-action pass. The drive took five plays, 75 yards and just 2:31.

The Jets defense stepped up again on the next drive, forcing the Chargers to punt.

The Jets then drove 42 yards in eight plays and 5:31 and Brien kicked a 42-yard field goal that gave the Jets a 17-7 lead with 1:23 left in the third quarter. The kick went off the right crossbar and over the goal post.

The Chargers began the ensuing drive at their own 29 and Brees drove his team 54 yards before the drive stalled. Kaeding kicked a 35-yard field goal that cut the deficit to 17-10.

The Chargers stopped the Jets offense on their next drive and Gowin punted 33 yards to the end zone as the Jets were unable to prevent the ball from going in the end zone.

The Chargers began their final drive at their own 20 with 4:46 left in the game. On 4th-and-goal from the Jets 2 with 24 seconds left, Brees dropped back to pass and was chased by LB Eric Barton. As he was about to get hit, Brees threw a jump ball in the end zone that fell incomplete. However, Barton was called for roughing the passer, giving the Chargers a fresh set of downs. “It was a stupid play,” Barton said. “We’re a good enough team to fight through it.”

On the next play, Brees connected wth TE Antonio Gates for a one-yard TD pass and Kaeding’s extra point sailed through the uprights, tying the game at 17. Gates, who the Jets defense held in check up until the final drive, caught three passes for 66 yards on the drive and six passes for 89 yards for the game.

The Chargers had come back from 10 points and forced overtime.

Both teams went three and out on their first possession of overtime.

The Chargers got the ball back at their own 30 with 12:17 left with all the momentum on their side and a loud crowd backing them at Qualcomm Stadium. Relying on Tomlinson, Brees drove his team within field goal range to the Jets 22.

Kaeding, a rookie, came onto the field for arguably the biggest kick of his young career. Kaeding was only the second rookie kicker to attempt a game winning field in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime in NFL history. As the Jets held their breath on the sidelines, Kaeding’s 40-yard field goal sailed just right and the Jets had fresh life.

The Jets were not going to let the opportunity slip through their fingers. Martin carried two times for seven yards, Moss made a big 18 yard catch, McCareins caught a 11 yard pass, and Jordan ran three straight times for 24 yards to set the Jets up. Brien’s 28-yard field goal was perfect and the Jets celebrated the hard fought victory. Brien talked about what he was thinking before his game winning kick.

“Anything it takes to get to the next round,” Brien said. “That’s all I had in mind. I felt very thankful to get out there and get another opportunity.”

DT Jason Ferguson talked about what the victory says about the Jets.

“It just showed what character we have,” Ferguson said. “We never gave up and just kept playing.”

“We said all year long that we are in this thing by ourselves,” Jordan said. “We like being the underdog. We were very focused.”

Edwards knows the Jets will have an even tougher task next week, as they again have to go on the road to play either the Steelers or Patriots. Edwards talked about what he told his team after the game.

“Stay humble,” the HC said. “They understood that and we have to get focused again next week.”

MISCELANEOUS GAME TIDBITS: The Jets declared QB Brooks Bollinger (3rd QB), QB Ricky Ray, CB Roderick Bryant, SS Rashad Washington, G Dave Yovanovits, T Marco Cavka, WR Wayne Chrebet, and DE John Abraham inactive.

-LB Jonathan Vilma led the Jets with 13 tackles and had the Jets only sack.

-The Jets were penalized eight times for 49 yards.

-The Jets were only 5-13 on third down while the Chargers were 6-15.

-The Jets defense limited Tomlinson to 80 yards on 26 carries, the third straight game they have held Tomlinson under 100 yards rushing. Tomlinson did have 9 catches for 53 yards.

-Brien’s game-winning field goal was his second this season as he kicked the game winner in the Jets 16-14 win over Buffalo at the Meadowlands this season.

-The last Jets road playoff victory was on January 15, 1983 when the Jets defeated the Los Angeles Raiders, 17-14.

INJURY REPORT: Edwards said there appears to be no new injuries. Both DE John Abraham (knee) and WR Wayne Chrebet (concussion) were inactive tonight.

The Jets move on to round two of the playoffs where they will travel to either Pittsburgh or New England. If the Colts beat the Broncos tomorrow, the Jets will face Pittsburgh at 4:30 p.m. next Saturday. If the Broncos defeat the Colts, the Jets will face AFC East rival New England at 4:30 p.m. next Sunday. Stay tuned to Jets throughout the week as the Jets prepare for their next opponent in the playoffs!