Jets RB Thomas Jones had his first 100 yard game today against Miami during the Jets 31-28 win. (Jets Insider.com Photo_
Jets fans can finally breathe easy as Gang Green pulled out their first win of the season with a 31-28 win over divison rival Miami. The game was highlighted by great performances by RB Thomas Jones and QB Chad Pennington coming back from an ankle injury.
With warm weather and sunny skies shining down on Giants Stadium, it was a beautiful day for a football game between two long-time divisional rivals, and 77,197 Jets fans were hoping it could translate into a victory for their team. And translate it did.
“I was really happy with the complementary football that we played,” said head coach Eric Mangini. “We did good things in all three phases. That’s something we’ve been talking about and that is important to us.”
From the start it looked as though the Dolphins were going to have their way as RB Ronnie Brown pounded the Jets defensive front out past midfield. Fortunately for New York, Shaun Ellis sacked Trent Green for six yards, forcing the Dolphins to punt. The Jets offense, led by Chad Pennington, couldn’t get going from deep in their own territory as they went three and out.
Unlike the last two games, the Jets saw opportunity and took advantage. A weak punt by the Dolphins set the Jets up at their own 45 and they cashed in on that and other mistakes. Two holding penalties against the Dolphin defense strengthened Gang Green’s cause; while a roughing the passer infraction put them in the red zone. The Jets then converted a third down attempt on Thomas Jones’ rush up the middle. Jerricho Cotchery caught Chad Pennington’s pass for 19 yards for a first down gain. The series ended in profit as Laveranues Coles reeled in a three yard Pennington pass for a touchdown with just over a minute left in the first quarter.
When the second quarter started, however, that lead became short-lived as Green threw a short pass to Brown for 43 yards, which put them in the Jets red zone. But Darrelle Revis’ illegal use of hands to face infraction and a pass interference call on Erik Coleman proved costly as Ronnie Brown went up the middle for a one yard touchdown to tie the game.
Kickoff returns were the Jets’ poison in the first two contests. This time, they had a big return of their own. Leon Washington took the ensuing kickoff and zipped through Miami with a 98 yard return the other way to get the lead back for New York 14-7.
“Leon had a lot of work during preseason,” said Mangini. “When he touches the ball he can be explosive.”
Miami, though, nearly had a return of their own. Ted Ginn Jr. sped down the field for 39 yards before being knocked out by Mike Nugent, eventually setting them up deep in the Jets’ territory. Huge tackles on Ronnie Brown and a big broken off pass by David Barrett in the end zone forced the Dolphins to score via a Jay Feely field goal, making it 14-10 in the Jets favor.
After the Jets offense failed to gain momentum, the Dolphins threatened to gain the lead with long passes and punishing runs by Brown. The Jets held their ground, culminating in a double sack of Green, and forcing Miami to take the three points on another Feely field goal.
Consecutive passes to Brad Smith and a dump to Cotchery set up a touchdown pass to TE Chris Baker with two seconds to go in the first half, giving the Jets a comfortable lead heading into the locker room.
A Nugent field goal in the third quarter made it 24-13 Jets. The field goal was set up by a reverse to the right by Brad Smith for 11 yards. On the preceding defensive series, S Kerry Rhodes snagged an interception from Green to give the Jets their first turnover of the season.
“To be able to capitalize is extremely important, and I am happy to see that,” Mangini said.
The Jets offense ate up the clock at the end of the third quarter, racking up 12:30 of game time. That offensive production carried over to the fourth quarter, culminating in a Pennington run for a touchdown. Pennington, who was 15-for-22 with 124 yards and 2 touchdowns, emphatically spiked the ball after the score.
“Anytime you get in the end zone it’s always a thrill,” Pennington said. “The stats may have looked ugly, but as far as putting points on the board we we’re able to do that.
Miami, though, answered back with Ronnie Brown’s second touchdown of the day. After Brown converted the two-point attempt, the Jets’ lead was down to ten. After the Jets’ punted, Miami’s offense went back to work and marched into Jets’ territory in the final minutes of the game. Aided by big catches and Jets’ penalties, the Dolphins went to New York’s 31 yard line before the two minute warning. Afterwards, they kept marching until Brown caught a pass from Green, who went 23-for-36 with 318 yards for a touchdown and an interception, and took it in for a 22 yard score.
The Jets appeared to have ended any chance of a Miami comeback when they fell on the onside kick. However, a penalty by Chris Baker, who illegally batted the ball forward, forced a re-kick. Luckily, they fell on the ball on the re-kick to put the game on ice.
“It feels a lot better, especially in our division and in our conference,” said LB Jonathan Vilma. “For us to be 1-2 we’re still in the thick of things. Hopefully we’ll put some wins together and keep it going.”
At halftime of Sunday’s contest, former Jets WR Wayne Chrebet was honored in a ceremony held by the Jets to commemorate his career. Chrebet was signed by the Jets as a rookie free agent out of Hofstra in 1995 and became one of the most productive receivers in franchise history. For all of the 11 years in his NFL career that he spent with New York, Chrebet caught 580 receptions for 7,365 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Chrebet walked out to midfield with his two sons, Cade and Lucas, by his side. Also on hand for the ceremonies was his wife Amy, his mom and dad, Jets owner Woody Johnson and the many Jets fans who stayed in their seats to thank Chrebet for his time with their beloved Jets.
“This was a perfect ending to a perfect career,” he said. “This is my chance to say goodbye, with the way my career ended. I couldn’t wait for today.”
Earlier in the game, a video tribute for Chrebet was played over the Jumbotron. Words of encouragement were spoken by Greg Buttle, Ray Lucas, Boomer Esiason, Laveranues Coles and Chad Pennington. The Jets Flight Crew donned #80 jerseys for the occasion.
Lookin’ Out for Chad
A few fans displayed a sign on the Jumbotron before the Jets took the field which said “Real Jets Fans Support Chad.” This was a response to the fans who, during the Jets’ last home game against the Patriots, supposedly cheered boisterously when he went down with an ankle injury near the end of the game and replaced by Kellen Clemens.
Chad walked out to cheers from all of the fans in attendance as he started the Jets’ first offensive drive of the game.
“He’s the leader of the offense. It helps because he knows the offense like the back of his hand and he puts us in the right position,” said Thomas Jones.
“I love Jets fans; they’re passionate and loyal and they appreciate players that play with heart, physical toughness and give everything they have,” Pennington stated. “Ever since I’ve been here that’s always been my goal no matter what the situation. I really enjoyed and appreciated it.”
Many Happy Returns
After Miami scored a touchdown to tie the game at the beginning of the second quarter, the Jets responded when Leon Washington took a kickoff 98 yards to the Miami end zone for a touchdown.
During the last two weeks, the Jets were victimized by opposing return specialist who went the distance. With that, Mangini offered his praise for Washington and the overall kickoff return unit.
“I thought the whole return unit did a nice job executing that particular return which we worked on specifically for the Dolphins,” he said.
Heading into Sunday’s showdown, the Dolphins were last in rushing offense. However, Ronnie Brown had no problem pushing through the Jets defense on rushing plays as his speed and power gained him 112 yards in 23 attempts and two touchdowns on the day. He also caught six passes for 99 yards and a score.
While a performance like Brown’s would bring concern for other teams, the Jets took only the high road and gave him credit for his day.
“He had a lot of yards in the first half, but in the second we stopped him when we needed it,” said Kerry Rhodes. “He had a big game day receiving and running. It was a good individual effort by him.”
“There were a couple of plays where he did a good job and they did a good job play-calling,” Jonathan Vilma replied. “We know the plays we need to fix and we’ll get that worked out.”
While doing so, they know a lot of work will be done to fix the errors.
“It’s something we work on each week and we will continue to work on it,” said coach Mangini.
TJ’s Big Day Out
Thomas Jones rarely factored in the Jets’ two losses. It was only fitting that he would break out against Miami’s ineffective rushing defense, which was without Zach Thomas for today. Jones had 25 carries for 110 yards. Clearly this was a breakout day for Jones, who was pleased with himself today.
“It felt good to have some success running the ball,” said Jones. “First two games, we played against a couple tough defenses. Miami is tough too, but they were without Zach Thomas, and it hurt them. It felt good to have some success.”
The following players were inactive for Sunday’s game:
Jets: QB Marques Tuiasosopo, S Abram Elam, LB Cody Spencer, OL Will Montgomery, DL Mike Devito, OL Jacob Bender, TE Jason Pociask, TE Sean Ryan
Dolphins: LB Zach Thomas, QB John Beck, RB Lorenzo Booker, S Donovan Darius, S Courtney Bryan, LB Abraham Wright, DT Steve Fifita, DT Rodrique Wright
On The Road Again
Gang Green will kick off their New York State road trip next week when they take on the division rival Buffalo Bills.
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