QB Chad Pennington assures the crowd he's ok after getting the wind knocked out of and him during the Jets 26 - 10 win over Houston. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
It wasn’t exactly a thriller, but the Jets took care of business at home Sunday, defeating the Texans 26-11 to improve to 6-5 on the season. Kicker Mike Nugent was largely to thank for the win as he hit four field goals, including a career long 54 yarder.
The second year kicker out of Ohio State drilled three first half field goals, including the 54 yard attempt with 1:09 left in the half to give the Jets a 9-3 lead heading into the locker room. The Ohio native tacked on a 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to make him a perfect 4-4 on the day. He also had a big tackle on a kickoff, bringing down Dexter Wynn at the Houston 33-yard line to prevent what otherwise could have been a long return. Nugent, whose leg strength has been doubted this year after a string of short kickoffs, admitted it was a relief to contribute in such a big way.
“I think I was due for that 50-yarder, it was nice to just get more points for the team,” Nugent said. “Hopefully I kind of showed the coaches that if we can get in that kind of position, I can put it through.
The Jets offense had a solid game. While the running game could only muster an anemic 27 yards on 26 rushes, the passing game was brilliant as quarterback Chad Pennington completed 24 of 31 passes for 286 yards. The receiving core dazzled all day. Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery, the Jets one and two receivers, respectively, made several big plays, including a 12-yard touchdown reception by Coles on Gang Green’s first possession of the second half. Cotchery ended up with 110 yards on seven catches while Coles hauled in nine receptions of his own for 111 yards. After the game, Coles, who has matured leaps and bounds since returning to the Jets, displayed his selflessness.
“Today was all about Chad and Jerricho,” the leading receiver said of his teammates. “Jerricho made tremendous catches all game and it’s just exciting to watch them go out and continue to make plays week in and week out.”
All of Giants Stadium held its breath with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, the most nerve-racking juncture of the game, as Pennington lay on the turf in pain after taking a hit from rookie Mario Williams. Pennington did walk off under his own power, urging the crowd to get loud by waving his arms. After missing just one play, Patrick Ramsey’s first pass attempt as a Jet, Pennington returned to action, though his teammates allowed that there were some worries.
“There was concern because he didn’t bounce back up like he has so many times this season,” veteran guard Pete Kendall said. “He was audibly disturbed, most of it was unintelligible but you got the drift.”
However, Pennington quickly spelled any doubts as he sparkled on the Jets next drive, leading them down the field for a field goal while burning eight minutes and 27 seconds off the game clock.
The story of the game for the Texans was self-inflicted wounds. Houston was killed by penalties all game long, as they ended up giving up 79 yards on 7 penalties while Gang Green committed just one penalty, a meaningless defensive hold late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback David Carr also threw one key interception, the only turnover of the game, to give the Jets the ball inside the Houston 30 late in the third quarter. The pick ultimately led to a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Cedric Houston that sealed an important victory for New York.
“This was one of our best collective efforts of the season,” head coach Eric Mangini said. “We need to build on this and continue playing good team football in the coming weeks.”
The Jets will look to do just that as they head to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers next week.
-Running back Kevan Barlow eclipsed the 1,000 carry mark for his career during the late minutes of the second quarter.
-As mentioned above, the 54-yard field goal was the longest of Nugent’s young career. It was also his first successful try from 50-plus yards. While Mangini has been hesitant to use Nugent from 50 yards or longer, the kicker finally displayed the big leg he promised to be when he was drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2005 draft.
-The Jets tried to utilize the explosiveness of kick returner/cornerback Justin Miller by taking a play out of the Chicago Bears playbook at the end of the first half. The last play of the half was a 59-yard field goal attempt by Texans kicker Kris Brown. Miller fielded the kick, which was well short, in the end zone and attempted to return it only to be tackled by holder and backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels as time expired in the half.
-Aside from being the first 50-plus-yard field goal of Nugent’s career and his career long, his 54-yard effort was the second longest field goal in team history.
GAME PHOTOS! Be sure to check out Jets Insider.com's exclusive Jets-Texans photo gallery. CLICK HERE
The Team return to Weeb Ewbank Hall tomorrow. Coach Mangini will address the media at 2:30 PM. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest Jets news.