Jets rookie S Kerry Rhodes sets up for an interception of Lions QB Jeff Garcia in the second quarter of the Jets 10-3 win. (Jets Insider.com photo)
If exhibition games serve any purpose – besides to wet the palate in anticipation of the regular season – it is to give a glimpse into what a team might look like.
A true assessment of a team’s barometer is nearly impossible since starters see about a quarter and a half of action. Then it’s time to start gnawing at the media guide to know who any of the numbers on the field belong to.
Tonight the Jets semi-first team beat the Lions 7-3 after matching up for the first two series at Giants Stadium. Sure, the final score was 10-3, but the Jets got a look at what some of the first-teamers could do.
With $64-million QB Chad Pennington resting his surgically repaired shoulder on the sidelines, backup Jay Fiedler engineered the first team offense. He shook off an inauspicious second pass that was intercepted after a deflection. Fielder connected with Coles for a 19-yard hook-up and was 6-for-7 on the Jets only touchdown drive. The Jets held the ball for over nine minutes and went 98 yards on 16 plays.
“Anytime you’re out there for 16 plays it’s not typical,” Fiedler said. “Our offense really made a lot of strides this last week of training camp.”
However, Fiedler’s slate wasn’t completely clean. He was almost intercepted by Lions CB Fernando Bryant in the end zone. A play earlier, he dumped a pass down to FB Jerald Sowell while WR Justin McCareins streaked through the secondary.
Nevertheless, on third-and-eight Fiedler scrambled for a first down thanks in part to WR Jerricho Cochery’s block. Two plays later Fielder crossed the goal line on a QB-keeper, the game’s only touchdown.
To nobody’s surprise old faithful RB Curtis Martin was limited to just two series. He rushed four times for 20 yards but dazzled on an 11-yard run on which he scooted to the outside after being stonewalled on a run up the middle. Martin deferred the credit to his teammates, as usual.
“I was trying to get loose because I saw Laveranues [Coles] blocking on the outside,” Martin said. “As soon as I got loose, I ran to [the outside] and sure enough he had him blocked.”
Martin, on a short leash during the preseason in terms of playing time, was just happy to be on the field after two weeks of two-a-days.
“I’m used to live action, it’s my 11th year,” he said. “Every first game is like being a rookie again until I get that first hit.”
The Jets defense seemed to be in a trance during some portions of the first half, only waking when the Lions threatened to score. After Fiedler’s interception, Detroit marched to the Jets 15-yard line before back-to-back sacks forced the Lions out of field goal range.
Lions QB Joey Harrington had his way with the Jets starting secondary, completing all nine passes for 100 yards.
He marched Detroit to the Jets 5-yard line before the Jets defense stuffed two runs and a QB-keeper. Once Lions K Jason Hansen followed with a 22-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 6:42 left in the second, the scoreboard didn’t change until the Jets Mike Nugent hit a 40-yard field goal with 2:18 left in the fourth quarter.
Nugent followed up by booting the kickoff out of bounds and setting up Detroit for a potential game-tying score. The Lions marched to the Jets 7-yard line with three seconds remaining, but Kerry Rhodes broke up the pass intended for Lions WR Mike Williams.
Head coach Herm Edwards admitted the game was an eyesore. The teams combined for 22 penalties and five turnovers and Edwards joked that had Detroit scored, he would have told Lions coach Steve Mariucci to go for a two-point conversion to ensure the game’s end.
Both team’s second and third stringers couldn’t infiltrate the end zone. Brooks Bollinger (8-for-17 for 55 yards) followed Fiedler and was beseeched by drops. WRs Chas Gessner (three), Harry Williams Jr. (one) and RB Cedric Houston each dropped passes.
“It was sloppy,” Edwards said. “There’s a lot of things we need to work on.”
-LB Darrell McClover fractured his left ankle on the opening kickoff of the second half. McClover, who was playing in place of already injured Eric Barton (knee), looked like he had his leg rolled over.
-LB Mondoe Davis and S Kerry Rhodes had interceptions.
-The two teams combined for an abysmal 10 penalties in the third quarter.
-RB Derrick Blaylock rushed for 17 yards on three carries in the first quarter.
-P Ben Graham had a 56-yard punt in the first quarter.
-Lions WR Mike Williams’ first NFL catch went for 14 yards at 14:37 in the fourth quarter.
-Rookie CB Justin Miller fumbled a punt inside the Jets 15-yard line, but the ball was recovered by a Lion out of bounds.
WR Chas Gessner who has been a star in camp fizzled bad tonight. He had several passes thrown his way and dropped all of them. Not a good start for a longshot player.
-K Mike Nugent followed his first professional field goal by kicking off out of bounds.
-QB Chad Pennington (shoulder): out
-CB Ty Law (foot): out
-S Andre Maddox (hamstring): out
-LB Eric Barton (knee): out
-LB Kenyatta Wright (foot): out
LB Darrell McClover (ankle): out
-WR Wayne Chrebet (hamstring): out
-WR Jonathan Carter (hamstring): out
-DT Dewayne Robertson (knee): out
The Jets have tomorrow off and then return to practice on Sunday at 3:30 PM. They return to two-a days on Monday. Check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest training camp news.
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