Eagles DB Sheldon Brown intercepts a Chad Pennington pass intended for Brad Smith during the Jets 16-9 loss to Philadelphia. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The New York Jets took the field Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles, donning the jerseys of the old New York Titans. With the Jets desperately seeking a win to gain any optimism for this season, they were hoping that the new looks would turn things around.
Unfortunately for Gang Green (or for today at least, the Boys in Blue), their lack of performance remained steadfast as they fell to the Eagles 16-9. All of their scores were on field goals.
Despite the team donning Titan blue, the Meadowlands was awash in a sea of green as 77,189 Jets and Eagles fans piled into Giants Stadium on a sun filled, breezy Sunday afternoon. It was the fans wearing the shade of Eagle green that went home celebrating.
“Obviously I’m very disappointed with the result and the locker room is disappointed. We all feel the same way,” said head coach Eric Mangini. “We know how hard we worked and how much we put into this. To not get the results we are looking for, it makes you angry and frustrated.”
The Jets have been hampered most of this season by an inconsistent running game. However the run was emphasized early and often when Thomas Jones broke through on the first two plays for gains of 36 and 11. New York, though, was unable to get into the end zone, and had to make do with a Mike Nugent 30 yard field goal for the early lead.
The advantage, however, was wiped out as quickly as it was gained. Donovan McNabb threw a long strike to Kevin Curtis, who broke through two Jets defenders to go the distance for the score. Curtis had five catches for 121 yards as well.
While the Jets did most of the offensive damage with the rushing game, the Eagles did theirs in the air. McNabb was 22-for-35 with 278 yards and that first quarter touchdown. To some, it didn’t come as a surprise.
“We knew they were a play-action team,” said CB Darrelle Revis. “[Donovan] is a smart quarterback and he did some good things.”
The Jets pressed on with the running game down to Eagles territory, but Mike Nugent’s 44 yard attempt went wide right, giving Philadelphia the ball back. Philly worked deep into the Jets’ red zone, but at the start of the second quarter, the Jets defense held their ground, forcing the Eagles to settle for a David Akers field goal.
Numerous boosts were given to the Jets to help their cause early in the game. Nonetheless, they failed to capitalize on the chances. The Eagles, though, weren’t helping themselves either. A Brian Westbrook touchdown run was nullified because of a holding penalty, and Akers missed two field goals.
The resurgence of the running attack for Gang Green, though, was a step in the right direction.
“I thought we made a lot of progress because this was a good rushing defense,” Mangini said. “We worked on the running game and we’ll continue to work on it. You’re looking for consistency in the running game the whole game and complement that with effective passing.”
The second half started with promise as the defense forced Philly to go three and out. But the Jets offense also went three and out to give possession back to the “Iggles.” Philly’s next series resulted in a field goal by Akers to give them a seven-point lead.
The Jets threatened to get something going on offense, including a Chad Pennington strike to Jerricho Cotchery for a big gain on the first play. But Sheldon Brown picked off a deep Pennington pass to end the drive. Philly capitalized on the mistake with an Akers field goal, making it 16-6.
The fourth quarter did give the Jets and their fans hope. Hank Poteat tipped and intercepted a McNabb pass to give the Jets possession into the red zone of the Eagles. Once again, they could not take advantage of McNabb’s error as Nugent kicked a field goal amidst the booing by many frustrated Gang Green supporters.
“That’s how the game goes sometimes,” said OL Adrien Clarke. “That’s just how it falls sometimes and it’s just what happened.”
After Philadelphia went three and out on its possession, the Jets got good position on their own 46 yard line after a bad Sav Rocca punt. The Jets drove deep into Eagle territory thanks to a double reverse run by Cotchery. But the theme of failing to take advantage persisted as Laveranues Coles dropped a sure touchdown pass on fourth down, giving the ball back to Philadelphia to run the clock out.
Aside from the first quarter touchdown by Philly, the Jets did everything they could to prevent any more damage being done. However, the offense could not help themselves as they failed to score a touchdown all day. Ultimately, the displeasure of the fans was heard loud and clear once the game is over.
"Right now I'm just numb. Not a lot of answers really," said Pennington. "It's frustrating when you work so hard, prepare so hard and do all the things that you know will help you win a game and then you don't win. It's tough to handle."
The high level of frustration was obvious from both the team and its loyal fans. Regardless of whatever changes the Jets have to make, the only way they can regain their sanity is a win next week. Otherwise, each and every loss Gang Green accumulates can only extend an already long and dreadful season.
Remember the Titans
The Jets’ tribute to the New York Titans wasn’t limited to the team wearing the jerseys during Sunday’s action. At halftime, a ceremony was held to pay tribute to not only the Titans, but to four players who would went on to be part of the Jets’ Super Bowl championship team in 1969. The four players honored were Bill Mathis, Larry Grantham, John “Curley” Johnson and Hall-of-Fame WR Don Maynard.
Return of Captain Jet and Fireman Ed’s Substitutes
With Fireman Ed unavailable on Sunday, another unofficial mascot picked up the slack. The game marked the return of Captain Jet, who was not seen for two years.
Captain Jet was seen before the start of the game roaming the sidelines and greeting the fans along the way.
Two years ago, then-head coach Herm Edwards, in what was his last year with the team, brought the crazed Jets fan to training camp at Hofstra to boost the spirits of the fans. Up until now, however, he hasn’t been seen since.
Meanwhile the fans got themselves a surprise as a female fan, dressed in Fireman Ed-like regalia, was hoisted on the shoulders of her male companion. The pair was shown on the JumboTron after the Jets scored the first points of the game, encouraging the fans to cheer for the Jets. Other fans were also seen on the JumboTron doing the Jets chant.
Running game revived at home in losing effort
It is apparent that the Jets have struggled mightily with their rushing offense. At home, though, they haven’t had that much of a problem, other than the week one disaster. Against Miami, the Jets rushed for 141 yards total. On Sunday, they racked up 158 yards. Thomas Jones got most of those yards with 130.
Even with the strong performance, it appears that the passing attack took an untimely vacation. Pennington was 11-for-21 with 128 yards and a pick. He was also sacked three times for 19 yards, knocking the total passing yardage down to 109. That performance is what cost the Jets whatever hope they had of winning.
"The running game was going for us today," said Clarke. "[Jones] did a good job. The unfortunate thing is we rushed for 150-plus and we still lost. It's back to the drawing board, fix some corrections and move on."
The following players were inactive for today’s game:
JETS: QB Marques Tuiasosopo, WR David Clowney, DB Drew Coleman, TE Joe Kowalewski, OL Will Montgomery, DL Mike DeVito, OL Jacob Bender, TE Jason Pociask
EAGLES: QB Kevin Kolb, FS Brian Dawkins, CB Lito Sheppard, LB Pago Togafau, DT Kimo von Oelhoffen, G Scott Young, DE Victor Abiamiri, WR Greg Lewis
Game Notes & Highlights
LB Jonathan Vilma broke off a crucial pass and hit Eagles WR Hank Baskett hard to stall and Eagles threat in the second quarter.
DL C.J. Mosley had a near interception on the same defensive series for the Jets.
DL Dewayne Robertson went down in the third quarter with a leg injury. Robertson returned to the field after resting for a few plays.
Pennington escaped a potential sack from multiple Eagles defenders to get the ball in the air, which resulted in an incomplete pass. However, on the next play, he was sacked by an Eagles defender, forcing the Jets to punt.
Hank Poteat’s interception was the first of his career.
Two reverse plays were put in effect by the Jets today.
The touchdown pass by McNabb to Curtis marked the second time that poor tackling doomed the Jets defense on a play. Last week, Giants WR Plaxico Burress scored went 53 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. High-tackling by the Jets defense was the culprit for that play.
Mad About Chad
Despite the loss, Coach Mangini has made it clear that Chad Pennington is his quarterback, like he has all year. However, Pennington has struggled in recent games, throwing interceptions at inopportune times and making dumb mistakes. Mangini, though, remained firm.
“It’s a situation where it comes down to a whole group,” he replied. “There are things we have to do as a group to improve. It doesn’t come down to one player.”
Although Pennington believes that the loss is his responsibility first and foremost, his attention is not on the talk about a possible quarterback change.
"As a quarterback, when you lose it comes on your shoulders first, right, wrong or indifferent. Whether it's your fault or not, it's on you as a quarterback. It's part of being a quarterback, and I can handle that.
"Whatever happens happens. I prepare myself every week to play and to play well. That is totally out of my control."
The New York Jets will take their game (or something like that) on the road next Sunday as they head to Cincinnati for a game against the Bengals.