Jets QB Brooks Bollinger's second start started promising but ended horribly.
After the Jets lost to the Ravens in October, Brooks Bollinger was relegated to the bench. He craved a second chance to strut his stuff, and patiently, Bollinger waited for his number to be called again.
After Bollinger Ė in relief of Vinny Testaverde Ė led a furious comeback last week against the Chargers and brought the Jets within five before a late rally faltered, he was handed the reigns.
Today, Bollingerís dream turned into a nightmare in his second career start. The Jets turned the ball over six times and Panthers claimed their sixth straight win by steamrolling the offensively challenged Jets, 30-3, before 66,825 fans at bank of America Stadium.
Bollinger threw four interceptions, the last of which was returned 35 yards for a touchdown by Panthersí (7-2) LB Will Witherspoon. It was an emblematic end for a dreadful day for Bollinger and the Jets offense.
The third-year quarterback had completed his first 91 career passes without an interception, but in the second half was intercepted three times in a span of four passes.
Bollinger threw his first career pick in the third quarter and it was costly. The Jets marched to the Panthers 24-yard line but Bollinger under threw a pass to WR Laveranues Coles, who had a step on CB Ken Lucas. But Lucas hauled in a rather easy pass, and the Jets offense came away with nothing.
Lucas again intercepted Bollinger on the Jets next series, which led to the Panthers second touchdown. RB Stephan Davis (27 carries for 81 yards) capped a 10-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run, extending the Panthers lead to 17-3.
On the ensuing kickoff return, rookie KR Justin Miller fumbled at the 32-yard line after being hit by CB Ricky Manning Jr, The Panthers recovered, and that led to a 42-yard field goal by John Kasay.
The Jets (2-7) next possession had a familiar ring to it. WR Justin McCareins had Bollingerís pass go off his hands and Carolina CB Chris Gamble picked it out of the air. It led to John Kasayís third field goal, and the Panthers extended their lead to 23-3.
Witherspoon joined the festivities on the next possession with his interception, Bollingerís fourth of the half. Bollinger (11 of 21 for 98 yards) had a paltry quarterback rating of 28.8.
Even with Bollinger, who was sacked four times, struggling, the game couldíve been salvaged. It appeared the Jets big break came with 5:59 left in the third when DE John Abraham stripped Panthers QB Jake Delhomme on what players and officials initially thought was a fumble. The referees did not blow the play dead, and S Rashad Washington picked up the ball and returned it for a game-tying touchdown.
However, Panthers head coach John Fox challenged the play and replays revealed Delhommeís arm was moving forward. It was the closest the Jets, who are winless on the road this season, would come to scoring a touchdown. The offense had a 10-play drive, which featured eight runs, ended when Mike Nugent kicked a 22-yard field goal.
The Jets offense mustered just 214 yards. RB Curtis Martin had a decent game, rushing 19 times for 75 yards after coming into the game averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. However, even Martin was not infallible today. He was stripped by LB Dan Morgan and lost a fumble for the first time since 2003. The Jets defense bent but didnít break, holding the Panthers to a field goal.
The Jets defense, which held itís version of an all-staff meeting earlier in the week, held the Panthers to just 220 yards. Their offense came into the game averaging nearly 28 points per game, but if not for Jets turnovers, was held in check.
-RB Cedric Houston made an impact on special teams and offense. Houston had 10 carries for 53 yards. The rookie tackled Panthers punt returner Chris Gamble for a loss in the first quarter.
-Two of the Jets first three downs were by penalty.
-Bollinger turns 27 years old on Tuesday.
-Rookie S Kerry Rhodes, who has one interception this season, nearly added another when he had a ball go off his hands with 10:15 left in the third quarter.
-CB Ty Law intercepted Delhomme after RB Stephan Davis couldnít hold onto a ball and tipped it into the air. Law leads the team with five interceptions.
-S Eric Colemanís second interception of the season halted a Panthers drive.
-Jets Inactives: QB Kliff Kingsbury (3rd QB), QB Jay Fiedler, RB Derrick Blaylock, FB B.J. Askew, CB David Barrett & LB Kenyatta Wright
T Jason Fabiniís left the game and was replaced by T Scott Gragg on the Jets third possession. Fabini was seen on the sideline with his left arm in a sling.
-RB Derrick Blaylock (ankle): Out
-QB Jay Fiedler (shoulder): Out
-S Oliver Celestin (knee): Questionable
-LB Kenyatta Wright (ankle/knee): Questionable
-WR Harry Williams, Jr. (knee): Questionable
-QB Vinny Testaverde (calf): Probable
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): Probable
-WR Justin McCareins (Achilles): Probable
-FB B.J. Askew (hamstring): Probable
-WR Lavernues Coles (rib): Probable
-C Pete Kendall (back Probable
-G Brandon Moore (pectoral Probable
-LB Victor Hobson (groin): Probable
The Jets road ahead gets no easier as they visit Denver next Sunday for a date with the 7-2 Broncos. Kickoff is 4:15 PM EST at INVESCO Field.