Following one of their finest first half performances in franchise history, the New York Jets cruised to a 38-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. With their second consecutive convincing win, the Jets move to 7-5 and remain in the thick of the postseason hunt.
"Anytime you can get a road win and win at a place that is as difficult to win as this is, it's always positive," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "I am pleased with the way we continue to make progress and the way we continue to complement each other in each phase of the game."
At one of football's most historic venues, the young Jets firmly grasped control of this contest from the outset. The offense scored on all five of its first half possessions and the defense clamped down as the Green & White ran to the locker room with a 31-0 lead at intermission.
The stats accounted over that first 30 minutes were surreal. In the first half, Chad Pennington was 22 of 29 for 241 yards with two touchdowns for a 122.9 passer rating. Wideout Jerricho Cotchery caught a career-high eight balls in the first half for 93 yards including a 12-yard scoring pass from Pennington. Cedric Houston, a second-year back from Tennessee, set a career high for a game with two first-half rushing touchdowns. In all, the Jets totaled 340 yards and 22 first downs. Defensively, the Green & White won in the trenches and collected two takeaways against their shell-shocked opponent.
The Jets got off to a hot start on both sides of the ball despite frigid temperatures and a few snow flurries. Pennington didn't play any favorites as the Jets came out throwing indiscriminately; his first eight completions went to eight different receivers. New York's AFC representative moved downfield on its first possession but settled for a 24-yard Mike Nugent field goal after Pennington overthrew an open Cotchery in the back of the right corner of the end zone.
Just moments later, the offense returned following a takeaway. Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, who made his 233rd consecutive start, stepped up in the pocket to alleviate pressure but Bryan Thomas stripped the future Hall of Famer and Dewayne Robertson recovered for the Green & White. Seven plays later, Pennington and Cotchery got it right and connected for a 12-yard score. Cotchery got free in the middle after safety Nick Collins slipped and easily scored his fifth touchdown of the season. That hookup came on a 3rd and nine play and Pennington also converted a 3rd and 10 on the possession with a nice pass to Leon Washington.
"One of the trademarks of the offense is try to play fast," said Mangini of Pennington spreading the ball around. "In doing that, different guys are going to come open based on whatever the scheme is and whatever the coverage is. One of the things Chad is always good at is understanding where the hole in the defense is and getting the ball to that receiver. I thought he did a nice job of finding those spaces and taking advantage of those spaces."
The Jets' defense came onto the field and held Favre and company to a three and out, and then the offense went to work again. Beginning at their own 17-yard line, the Jets moved 83 yards on nine plays. Cedric Houston's three-yard run culminated the Jets' third scoring possession on as many drives. The 17-0 Jets' second quarter advantage brought the boo birds out at Lambeau.
"I just think we are starting to click," Pennington said of the offense. "Any time you put in a new system, it is going to take some time. It is a process. We experienced some success early, and then our running game started to come along. Now we are trying to put both facets of the game together."
Amazingly things got even better for the Jets. Packers' kicker Dave Rayner was wide right on a 40-yard field goal, missing an opportunity to make it a two-score game. Sure enough, the irresistible force which was Brian Schotteheimer's offense went right down the field again. Schotteheimer called Brad Smith's number on a reverse and the rookie raced 32 yards up the right sideline while receiving blocks from seemingly everyone on offense including a Pennington attempt. That got the Jets going and Houston powered home from the one just five plays later.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's unit was not about to be overshadowed. Desperate to get his team something positive, Favre threw long but was picked off by corner Andrew Dyson. It was Dyson's team-leading fourth pick on the season. Donald Driver had a step on Dyson, but the veteran corner closed well and corralled the Jets' second takeaway of the half.
The Jets continued to pound the Packers and Chris Baker's one-yard touchdown reception put the visitors up 31-0 at halftime. Pennington faked a handoff to Houston and found a wide open Baker in the back of the end zone. Houston made Pennington's job easy by picking up blitzing rookie linebacker Abdul Hodge.
"Our guys are doing a great job of getting open and doing a great job of running crisp routes," Pennington said. "I believe in all those guys."
Green Bay attempted to make a game of it in the third quarter, scoring 10 consecutive points. But Leon Washington ended any hopes of a miracle comeback when he scored on a 20-yard draw early in the final stanza.
"Even as the momentum could have shifted out there in the third quarter and the defense was out there quite a long time, I thought there wasn't any real sense of panic by anybody," Mangini said. "I think we just went out there and dealt with the situations as they came up and played the next play.
Houston, Washington's backfield mate, finished the afternoon with 105 rush yards on 22 attempts. Riding a two-game win streak, the Jets return home next weekend and will host the 5-7 Bills at the Meadowlands.* *Final Game Stats
NotebookThe Jets are now 8-2 all-time against the Packers… Green Bay continued its sting of poor play at home. With the loss, the Pack dropped to 1-5 at Lambeau. Conversely, the Jets raised their road record to 4-2… In that amazing first half, the Jets held the ball for 21 minutes and 36 seconds … After signing a contract extension last week, hybrid defender Bryan Thomas racked up 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble against the Packers… Kerry Rhodes gave the Jets a third takeaway in the fourth quarter, picking off Favre with 5:24 remaining… Linebacker Victor Hobson led the Jets with 13 tackles including nine solo stops… Pennington was picked off twice in the third quarter and Patrick Dendy's interception led to a 20-yard Favre touchdown pass to Donald Driver.