In need of a win, the Jets went out and made history.
Brett Favre threw a career-high six touchdown passes — equaling Joe Namath's 1972 franchise record — the defense forced seven turnovers — six by QB Kurt Warner — and the Jets rolled to a 34-0 second quarter en route to crushing the Arizona Cardinals, 56-35, at the Meadowlands today.
"I'm proud of this team and the way we battled today, especially after last week," Favre said. "We knew the offense could score a lot of points. I think it shows the potential of what this team has. It's just one game, but it's a great start."
After a scoreless opening 15 minutes, the Jets, wearing their blue and gold Titans throwbacks, went wild in a second stanza that would have made old AFL players proud. And whenever they needed a shot of momentum, they rode the golden right arm of the Mississippi gunslinger while the defense pitched in with timely takeaways.
Unfortunately, this game ended on a scary note. Jets S Eric Smith and Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin collided helmet-to-helmet with 27 seconds on the clock and Boldin remained motionless for a number of minutes. He was eventually carted to the locker room on a stretcher. Late word was that he was moving and had been taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York for observation, while Smith didn't go to the hospital.
At the season's quarter mark, the Jets moved to 2-2 and the Cards dropped to .500. It was a dynamite display in front of the home faithful and the previously 2-1 Cards could never fully recover from flurry after magnificent flurry.
The Jets forced Warner's offense into five first-half turnovers (two interceptions and three fumbles), Favre connected with Laveranues Coles on three touchdowns in the second stanza and NT Kris Jenkins even blocked a field goal.
This one was almost tucked away at the half as the giddy Jets jogged into intermission with the second-largest halftime margin in franchise history. The home loyalists, enthralled by what they had just seen, rose to their feet in unison and gave their team a tremendous ovation at the break.
During the week, the Jets said they had to disrupt Warner early and they penned a check in that box after this one. They sacked him three times in the first half and five times overall, confused him with coverages and made sure the one-time Giant wouldn't enjoy his trip back to the Meadowlands.
It was stunning, shocking, but above anything else, scintillating. Early on they made a former two-time NFL MVP who entered the game as the league's second-ranked passer look like a helpless rookie.
"The plan was to get to pressure on him," said DE Shaun Ellis, who was credited with one sack. "We know if we got to him, he'd give us some plays and he did just that."
The Jets scored a pair of quick-strike touchdowns to take their first 14-point lead of the season. Capitalizing on a short field, Favre threw a ridiculous rope to LC in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. Coles, who worked his way from the left to the middle, found a little room and Favre delivered like few others in NFL history could.
Then the defense, brilliant in the first half, decided to take care of business on their own. They confused Warner with a one-man rush and the veteran blinked, throwing an ill-advised ball in the direction of TE Ben Patrick. Corner Darrelle Revis easily stepped in front and jogged along his merry way for 24 yards and his first career touchdown. Instead of keeping the ball, Revis tossed the leather a couple of rows deep into the stands.
The downhill motion would not stop from there. A great Favre pump fake to Coles got corner Eric Green to bite and actually led to a Green knee sprain. As the corner writhed in pain on the turf, Coles sprinted free up the left sideline and Favre hit him for a 34-yard score.
"They made a conscious effort this week to try to get me the ball and get me in the game early," Coles said. "I'm appreciative of that and I'm thankful I was able to make some plays."
Coles, who also handed a ball to a fan after his first score, kept this one for himself and celebrated with a nifty dance. It took just 7:27 on the gameclock for the Jets to score three touchdowns and grab a 21-0 lead.
And as light sneaked into the stadium and clouds broke momentarily, the Jets kept a black cloud above their opponent. Kris Jenkins, in action despite a back injury, pushed C Lyle Sendlein back into Warner and the jolted passer threw his second interception of the half to S Eric Smith. That set up Jay Feely's 20-yard boot and the damage would only continue.
Former Cardinals stalwart Calvin Pace got a free shot at Warner and rattled the ball loose and David Harris came up with another Jets recovery. Seven plays later, Coles beat rookie Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie's one-on-one coverage and Favre got their trifecta on a 2-yard scoring pass.
"I'm just excited about having the opportunity to play football with a legend," LC said. "I say that all the time, but there's nothing I can do to enhance his career and there's a lot he can do to enhance mine with everything he brings to the table."
For a moment, it appeared the Jets were done scoring. But with just seconds left in the half, David Bowens not only sacked Warner but the veteran outside linebacker recovered at the Cards' 12 and just two seconds on the game clock. Feely tacked on another field goal, completing the 34-point stampede.
Despite a gigantic deficit, Warner and the Cards wouldn't fold. They displayed grit right out of the break, scoring 21 points in the third stanza, but the 38-year-old Favre made sure the lead would stand up.
When the Cards cut the lead to 34-21 and then 41-28, Favre answered with a touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery on each occasion. His fifth scoring pass came on a fourth-and-1 play-action to a wide open J-Co and cemented the victory.
Favre got the Jets over the 50-point mark with No. 6, finding rookie tight end Dustin Keller for 24 yards on another fourth down. Fittingly, the game's final play was another Revis interception.
"We had a lot of takeaways," Revis said. "The defensive line got to the quarterback well today and we made a couple plays in the secondary. It's falling together. We just have to keep on pushing."
The Jets owned this day and now head into the bye week at 2-2.
"We didn't have to win, but if we didn't we'd be in trouble — we'd be in a hole," S Kerry Rhodes said. "We had to come out and get it done, and we were able to get it done."
The Jets have never lost to the Arizona Cardinals and now own a 4-0 record against the NFL club. They lead the overall series with the 'Cards, who formerly called home in St. Louis, by a 5-2 count. Favre became the fifth different Jets starting QB to beat the Cards in their five-game win streak.
Titans Times Two
Following their bye, the Jets will host the Cincinnati Bengals at the Meadowlands. And for the second consecutive home game and final time this season, they'll don their Titans uniforms. New York's AFC representative now has a 2-1 record in Titans garb.