JETS 13 - CHIEFS 10
By Richard Adragna
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 30th, 2007
Less than 24 hours after a thrilling game at the Meadowlands resulted in NFL history being made, the New York Jets tried to pull off a feat just as remarkable at the very same venue against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Alas, the remarks that this game earned were ones containing expletives. Mike Nugent, after two Chiefs timeouts and a holding penalty against the Jets, kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime to make it a 13-10 victory for Gang Green, putting an end to an utterly unwatchable contest, and with that, the Jets’ 2007 season.
“Whenever you line up for a winning kick in overtime and then you kick it and then it gets called back, it’s not the most pleasant feeling in the world. Then when it goes through the second time usually it feels pretty good,” said Jets head coach Eric Mangini with a smile and a chuckle.
Kellen Clemens, today’s starting QB, didn’t have a very impressive day, as he was 13-for-25 with 115 yards and a touchdown pass to RB Thomas Jones. He did make up for that by leading the Jets down the field in the extra quarter, though he feels some of his teammates were more deserving for credit.
“It’s really a credit to Thomas Jones and the offensive line,” he explained. “There were some big holes and big runs by Thomas that got us down there. We showed up really big at the end, and then obviously (Mike) Nugent made the game-winning kick twice.”
Clemens’ drive, however, wouldn’t have been possible without help from the defense, who, until near the end of the quarter at least, made life a living hell for QB Brodie Croyle and the Kansas City offense.
“Our coaches put together a nice game,” said LB David Bowens. “Our role is to get to the quarterback as much as possible. It could be attributed to communication but I think for the most part we did a good job.”
After a kind of first quarter that made watching grass grow seem more enjoyable, the Jets offense jumped right out of the gate at the start of the second, when Coach Mangini and Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer reached into their bag of tricks and pulled out an effective trick play. With Leon Washington lined up as the quarterback, he threw a strike to WR Wallace Wright, getting them in the Kansas City red zone. A couple plays later, Jones caught a shovel pass from Clemens and ran 15 yards for the first touchdown of the game.
“It’s something we’ve been working on all year long,” said Washington. “Practice makes perfect, so at practice I had a pretty good pass to him this week and threw a pretty good pass in the game.”
The Chiefs, though, pulled a rabbit out of their own hat. On their second punt attempt (the Chiefs kept the ball after the Jets were caught roughing P Dustin Colquitt), S Jon McGraw ran the fake to gain the first down for Kansas City. Unfortunately for them, the Jets defense held their own and forced them to punt yet again. Afterwards, each team managed to get a field goal at the end of the first half, with the Jets having a 10-3 edge.
Much of the second half was as exciting as root canal surgery, with both offensive units failing to make something happen. That was, until about three minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Croyle launched a pass to WR Jeff Webb in the end zone for 26 yards for the tying score.
The Jets tried to get something going, even having an incomplete pass overturned on a coach’s challenge. Yet they failed to take advantage of that and were forced to punt away. Ditto for the Chiefs, and with that came the overtime period, with a fraction of the paid attendance still present.
The Jets got the ball first, hoping to appease the fans that were still standing. They did just that, driving the ball deep into Chiefs territory to set Nugent up. While the sight of the timeouts and the penalty was very frustrating for all to see, in the end it only put a mere halt to the inevitable.
“I think it shows how this team really sticks together,” said Nugent. “I think the offense did a great job getting the ball down the field and the defense giving us amazing field position, too.”
Today’s game was the epitome of the entire Jets season; frustrating until the very end. Yes, it has been a maddening and disappointing ride. Nevertheless, with the victory comes the sense that there is some confidence about this team heading into the off-season and into the next regular season. Let’s hope a lot of that transpires onto the field, so that they can play in January.
GRADING THE JETS
The first half saw a few strong moments for the Jets, such as Washington’s deep pass and Jones’ touchdown reception. And yes, there was that overtime period, when it all counted. However, the offense was suspect at best overall. They were 3-for-16 on third down conversions, some of the play-calling was questionable, and went for it on fourth down too much. The overtime period, though dreadful to watch, did give the offense a chance to redeem themselves.
Even without forcing a turnover, Gang Green’s defense had the Chiefs offense in check for much of the game, especially on third down where Kansas City was 3-for-16 (just like the Jets). Even when Croyle launched that game-tying touchdown pass to Webb, the defense remained firm on their next series, allowing the game to be forced into overtime.
Kansas City’s kickoff unit did its best to keep the ball away from Leon Washington for much of the game, which didn’t help the Jets much as far as returning kickoffs go (even with David Bowens amusing the home crowd by taking the opening kickoff 17 yards). Nugent was solid overall and cool in overtime, even with the timeouts and the penalty. Graham, however, wasn’t solid as he averaged only 38.1 yards, allowed a few long returns, and nearly had a costly blocked punt.
The trick play involving Washington in the quarterback position was brilliant and so was Jones’ touchdown and the entire overtime period. The rest of the play-calling, however, was questionable at best. For example, they went for it on fourth down three times, successfully converting only once; the third down conversions weren’t so hot either for the offense, going 3-for-16. Nevertheless, give the coaching staff credit for the play-calling on defense and for the offense in overtime.
Herm Reflects On His Return To NY
In the post game press conference Herm Edwards talked about his return to NY and playing against his old team.
"It’s very ironic because both teams gave me my first opportunities," said Edwards. "The Chiefs and the Hunt family gave me my start in the NFL as a scout many years ago and the Jets and Mr. (Woody) Johnson gave me my first head coaching job. In both situations I've done the very best that I can."
Edwards confirmed that he spoke to several of his former Jets players during team warmups and after the game but wouldn't be specific.
"That's between me and them." said the coach.
Jets Safety Kerry Rhodes mentioned that he spoke to Edwards before and actually during the game.
"He said he missed me during warmups, I said the same,” said Rhodes. Smiling, Rhodes also said that during a time out in the second half he told Herm "to have Croyle throw the ball down the middle", however Edwards declined his offer.
Graham’s Future At Risk
In the past week, there was speculation about who will be the starting punter for the Jets in today’s game. Rumor had it that rookie Jeremy Kapinos would be in the game to share the duties with the struggling veteran Ben Graham.
All of those assumptions were put to rest the minute the inactives were announced before game-time. Among those inactive was Kapinos, which meant that it was Graham who was the punter for the entire game.
Graham’s day wasn’t a good one. While he did get a few punts deep in Chiefs’ territory, he allowed a few big returns and had a punt nearly blocked in the fourth quarter. Overall, he punted the ball eight times for an average of only 38.1 yards. If that is any indication, it could mean the end of the line for Graham.
A Future for Bowens on the Return?
On the opening kickoff, the Chiefs elected to kick away from the dangerous Leon Washington, squibbing the ball to LB David Bowens. Bowens returned the kick 17 yards and juked out a Chiefs player in the process.
“He’s consistently performed on special teams, and his role has gotten bigger and he’s performed better and better as the season’s gone on,” Mangini said.
Judging by that run back, perhaps a future in kickoff returns could be on the horizon for Bowens, who said that the return “brought me back to my high school days.” When asked about that possibility, Bowens quickly shot it down.
“Not at all,” he said, cracking up. “Leon’s a great returner. I think we’d have to get 27 guys hurt before they put me back there to do it.”
Mangini, meanwhile, said with a grin that he wouldn’t be sure “if he’d be my first choice, but I’ve seen some other guys do worse.”
Bowens also had one of the team’s three sacks, and put a lot of pressure on Kansas City QB Brodie Croyle all day.
Second Quarter Trickery
It appeared that both the Jets and Chiefs had magicians playing on their teams because of the presence of trick plays that occurred in the second quarter.
With Leon Washington lined up in the quarterback position, he rolled outside to his right and threw the ball 36 yards to Wallace Wright. The play would be proven crucial later on in the series as they scored a touchdown on a short pass to Jones.
Kansas City, meanwhile, came up with a trick play of their own later on in the quarter. Jon McGraw took the ball on a fake punt to give the Chiefs offense another series. Unlike the Jets, they failed to capitalize on the play and punted the ball away.
Jack of all Trades
Leon Washington has been a huge factor all season in the team’s kickoff return game. However, the Chiefs had a plan not to kick the ball to him throughout the game. Yet that didn’t stop the diminutive running back from giving his team a much-needed boost.
Washington played quarterback for one play and the result was a 36-yard catch by Wallace Wright, which left many in Giants Stadium in awe.
“I thought that he was a little short on that throw. He had actually hit it in stride when we were practicing it, but he did a nice job with that,” said Mangini.
Judging by that play alone, you would think that Leon, who until then had not thrown a pass since high school, would have a future as a starting quarterback. He, though, thinks his skills could be better suited for our friendly neighbors to the North.
“Yeah, in the Canadian League, but not in the NFL,” he said after giving a laugh at the thought of that idea.
The announced paid attendance for tonight’s game was 76,737. The announcement, though, did bring forth a lot of snickers in the press box as the amount of people in the stands was far less than that number throughout the duration of the game.
One for Mike
In his post-game presser, Coach Mangini announced that this was the final game for Mike Westhoff as the Special Teams Coach due to his medical issues. Westhoff, who has spent 35 years working his expertise on various special teams units, made his announcement in a meeting before the game. The Jets’ victory was dedicated to Westhoff and he was given a game ball for all the hard work he put in.
“He’s been a great coach and a great friend, and we’re going to miss him,” he said.
Coach Westhoff shared his feelings with the media.
"It was very emotional. It has been a great pleasure and an honor, I have been very lucky. I have coached about 550 games, including preseason and playoffs. It’s been an incredible honor for me to be involved with the National Football League."
Westhoff said he would not use the word "retire," but because of his recent medial problems, he did not say whether he will come back.
The following roster changes were made for today’s game:
The Jets added WR David Ball to the active roster after placing LB Jason Trusnik on injured reserve. Ball was listed as inactive for New York, as well as QB Marques Tuiasosopo, P Jeremy Kapinos, WR Chris Davis, CB Andre Dyson, OG Adrien Clarke, OL Jacob Bender, and TE Sean Ryan.
The Chiefs added QB David Greene, LB Mickey Pimentel, and OT Travis Leffew to their active roster with RB Larry Johnson, CB Tyron Breckenridge, and WR Eddie Kennison on the injured reserve list. In turn, Greene, Pimentel, and Leffew were listed as inactive for Kansas City along with RB Gilbert Harris, DE Khreem Smith, OT and former Jet Adrian Jones, TE Michael Allan, and DT James Reed.
EXCLUSIVE GAME PHOTOS! Be sure to check out Jets Insider.com's exclusive Jets-Chiefs photo gallery. CLICK HERE