2008 Week 3 Monday Night - Jets vs Chargers Photos
Leon Washington was in no mood for personal accolades following the Jets' 48-29 loss in San Diego on Monday. On a night when he achieved a personal-best 217 all-purpose yards, Washington shifted focus to ways in which the team needs to improve.
"I'm not feeling good at all," he said. "You get a chance to execute a phase of the game we needed to improve on the last couple of weeks, and then you don't execute the other phases of the game."
The ability for the offense to run the ball was lost following three second-quarter turnovers that resulted in touchdowns. And although the defense started the game on a high note, with David Barrett's interception return for a touchdown, the "D" missed other opportunities to make plays and had trouble getting off the field on third down.
"It just goes to show, when you don't execute all three phases of the game it's hard to win games in the NFL," said Washington.
Head coach Eric Mangini reiterated this sentiment, and took on some of the blame himself, saying: "We all made mistakes. I made mistakes. Choosing to go for the onside kick, we thought was a good one. It didn't work out, and it set up the short field as well."
The call for the onside kick early in the second quarter was recovered by San Diego's Marques Harris at the Jets 44 to set up a 27-yard scoring pass from Rivers to Chris Chambers, making it 24-14 with 11:17 to go before halftime.
Washington downplayed the idea that the play deflated the team. "No, I don't think so," he said. "That was an opportunity where we thought we could have made the play — we should have made the play. We didn't execute as well as they did. We had opportunities later in the game."
He also complimented the drive of his teammates. "This team is full of high character guys," he said. "We were talking throughout the game and in the locker room, saying, 'Stay together, guys, stick together.' Which we will do. We are a close-knit team."
The praise of the team's character was echoed by Brett Favre and Mangini as well as fellow running back Thomas Jones, who said, "We never gave up. Guys were still trying to score points and trying to get within a couple of scores to get ourselves back in the game."
"Each week is a process and we're getting better and better," he said. "You saw the passing game starting to come together with Brett hitting receivers during the game."
Washington and the special teams came together for the first time this season, especially on kickoff returns. The Jets had nine returns for 291 yards, a 32.3-yard average, and Washington had five of those returns for 198 yards, including 94- and 45-yard returns in the second quarter.
Added to his 19 yards of offense, his 217 yards topped his previous best of 210 yards set last season at New England.
In the kicking game, Ben Graham also returned and punted twice. Both were effective. Darren Sproles fair-caught his first punt at the San Diego 15, and his second was downed by Wallace Wright at the Chargers 5.
Jay Feely also hit a 32-yard field goal in his only try, and he and the Jets' kick coverage team, on the three kickoffs that weren't onside, limited Darren Sproles and the Chargers to a 13.7 yards per return and an average start on the San Diego 23.
Washington believes that the growing chemistry coupled with the team's high character will lead to more consistent productivity and wins.
"If we keep sticking together, keep rolling," he said, "this thing is going to turn around."