With Curtis Martin shleved, RB's BJ Askew (above) and rookie Cedric Houston got to show their stuff in the Jets' 26 - 10 win over Oakland. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets won a football game for the first time in more than two months. Yet they did so without a familiar face who was absent for the first time in seven years.
Before the Raiders and Jets took the field for the coin toss, the Jets, who went on to win 26-10, announced that RB Curtis Martin will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, effectively ending Martin’s season. For the first time since Oct. 11, 1998, Martin did not suit up, halting a streak of 119 regular-season games.
“It’s not about records or anything,” Martin said. “It’s about not being with my team.”
No fear, because this game was not devoid of running back story lines. Martin’s replacement, Cedric Houston, grinded out 74 yards on 28 carries. He ran forcefully and scored the first touchdown of his career on a 2-yard run in the waning minutes of the game.
“Cedric knew he was going to have a lot on his plate today,” coach Herman Edwards said. “You’re talking about replacing a Hall-of-Famer. That was a lot of pressure on him.”
Houston, a sixth-round pick from Tennessee in April’s draft, didn’t mind the pressure. He’s been mentoring under Martin all season. The pupil responded.
“Before the game he told me that I’m a good running back and I just need to get in there, see, what I see, and run,” Houston said. “I’m a pretty big back so I took [the workload] pretty good.”
Houston not only subbed for Martin, but in effect took over for turncoat LaMont Jordan, who was second on the Jets depth chart last season.
Jordan, who bolted for the Raiders in March, was stymied by a Jets defense that had six sacks and forced four turnovers, leading to 13 points.
Ironically, in snapping a seven-game losing streak, the Jets may have been eliminated from the Reggie Bush sweepstakes. Depending how the Texans, 49ers, Packers and Titans finish the year, the Jets three wins may be too many to get to the top of the Draft, where Bush will likely be the first overall selection.
As for Martin, he came into the game needing to average 66.25 yards-per-game over the last month of the season to reach 1,000. With Martin’s bum knee and a patchwork offensive line, Martin’s chances of becoming the first player in NFL history to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in 11 consecutive seasons were slim-to-none.
On the other side, this was tabbed a revenge game for LaMont Jordan, who managed just 49 yards on 14 carries.
“They could care less if we throw for 400 yards as long as I don't go off,” said Jordan, who spent the first four years of his career draped in green and white. “That's just the reality of the situation.”
And the Jets defense dished out most of the punishment. Backed by three Mike Nugent field goals and a 9-3 lead, the Jets defense took over in the third quarter. DE John Abraham (two sacks) forced Raiders QB Marques Tuiasosopo (14-for-26 for 124 yards and one touchdown) on successive series. The first turnover led to another Nugent field goal, and the second pulled the Jets away.
Jets QB Brooks Bollinger (14-for-26 for 119 yards) threw for his only touchdown of the game six seconds into the fourth quarter, giving the Jets a 19-3 lead. Bollinger threw a fade route to WR Justin McCareins (four catches for 45 yards), who came down with the ball out of bounds. The referees ruled McCareins was pushed out, but would’ve came down in bounds.
Bollinger’s throwing statistics weren’t sparkling, but he got his first career win in six starts. He scrambled for several first downs and ended up with 56 yards, a record for a Jets quarterback.
“It feels good to get a win,” Bollinger said. “I just feel food for the guys in that locker room.”
The Raiders found the end zone on their next possession, but inexplicably kicked the extra point, making it 19-10. Had they attempted a two-point conversion and been successful, they would’ve been down by eight, making it a one-possession game.
But Houston’s touchdown run with 1:56 remaining iced the game for the Jets, who played with heavy hearts knowing that Martin won’t be back this season. Edwards said that the decision to shut down Martin was made last night, however several players said they knew earlier in the week. Nevertheless, they carried on without him.
“What we’ve gone through this season,” Edwards said. “It’s good to get a win.”
Jolley Bad Play.Amid all the storylines surrounding Raiders RB LaMont Jordan playing against his former team, surely Doug Jolley wanted to make his presence felt. Jolley, who the Jets acquired in the off-season from the Raiders for a first-round pick, had his chance and blew it.
With the Jets leading 9-3 in the third quarter, QB Brooks Bollinger lobbed a pass to Jolley in the end zone. The former Raiders TE appeared to have the ball, but tumbled backwards. The ball popped loose and Jolley, exasperated, lay in the end zone with his hands on his helmet.
Day and Night. Sure, Mike Nugent kicked four field goals today and has been much the Jets offensive production this season. However, Nugent, who the Jets drafted in the second round to solve their kicking woes, has one touchback this season.
Today, he kicked a ball out of bounds, giving the Raiders the ball on the 40. DE John Abraham bailed him out by forcing a turnover on the next play. One of Nugent’s kickoffs reached just the 18-yard line.
In his four years at Ohio State, Nugent had over 100 touchbacks. What a kick.
Silver and Green Connections. The Jets and Raiders have more in common than LaMont Jordan. Here are some of the wackier ways the two teams are intertwined:
-CB Ty Law on a recruiting trip at Michigan hosted Raiders’ CB Charles Woodson.
-LB Eric Barton and LaMont Jordan were teammates at Maryland.
-QB Chad Pennington, who is more than a name on an injury list around Weeb Ewbank these days, and Raiders WR Randy Moss attended Marshall together.
INACTIVES: Jets: QBs Kliff Kingsbury and Jay Fiedler; RBs Curtis Martin and Derrick Blaylock; T Isaac Snell; CB Norm Katnick. Raiders: QB Andrew Walter; WRs Carlos Francis and Johnnie Morant; TEs John Foschi and Brad Lekkerkerker; DT Antajj Hawthorne; LB DeLawrence Grant; CB Charles Woodson.
CB Justin Miller started in place of David Barrett, who is still bothered by an eye laceration. Barrett played in nickel packages. DT Lance Legree started for DeWayne Roberston.
MARK CANNIZZARO FAN CHAT Be sure to log on to JetsInsider.com on Wednesday (Dec. 14) at 8:00 p.m. for a live online fan chat session with NY Post/Jets Insider.com writer Mark Cannizzaro, who will fill you in on all latest NY Jets news and rumors for the end of this season and upcoming next season.
Chat session is open to everyone. You only need to be regsitered on the Jets Insider.com Fan Forums to participate.
To access the JI Chatroom: CLICK HERE
Don’t miss all the action on Wednesday at 8:00 P.M.