The New York Jets dropped to 2-3 on the season following a 41-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Alltel Stadium. Turnovers proved costly for the Jets as the Jags scored 28 points off of three Chad Pennington interceptions and one blocked punt.
"Obviously it's very disappointing," said first-year Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "They just physically beat us up and out-executed us. It was every phase of the game: it was offense, it was defense, it was special teams, and it was coaching."
Rookie Jets running back Leon Washington stood out in defeat, rushing for 101 yards on 23 carries. Washington, who grew up yards from Alltel Stadium, ran hard throughout and added a reception for eight yards.
For the fourth consecutive week, the Jets again saw their opposition strike first and this Jacksonville attack was lethal. The Jaguars, without the services of wide receiver Matt Jones and defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, dictated play in the opening half and raced to a 28-0 lead.
"Starting fast is something we've been emphasizing and it hasn't worked out the way we want it to," Mangini said. "We will keep addressing it and keep working at it and try to get a better start there."
Cornerback Brian Williams intercepted Pennington on the Green & White's first possession. Williams was the beneficiary of a deflection after Laveranues Coles got his hand on a pass thrown behind him. Four plays later, rookie running back Maurice Jones-Drew took a handoff from Byron Leftwich and reached the end zone from six yards out.
"I was just a little bit behind. I thought I had a hole and I did," said Pennington of his first turnover.
Following a Jets three and out, the Jags increased their advantage to two touchdowns on a 13-yard Fred Taylor run. In the first quarter alone, Taylor rushed for 32 yards on three carries and added a 32-yard reception which set up Jones-Drew's first score. Taylor finished the day with 111 yards on the ground.
Unable to sustain any sort of offensive attack, the Jets were forced to punt for a third time in the second quarter. Veteran Ben Graham boomed a 56-yard kick and the Jets covered well, tackling return man Chad Owens at his own 20-yard line. But the play was nullified due to an illegal block infraction on linebacker Cody Spencer and the Jets lined up to punt again. From the shadows of his own end zone, Graham would get his ensuing kick blocked by Gerald Sensabaugh. The Jags only had to move eight yards to take a 21-0 lead as Jones-Drew scored his second touchdown of the day – this one from four yards out.
The Jets attempted to get back in the game through the air, but Pennington was picked off for a second time. Pennington had Brad Smith in his sights when Terry Cousin stepped in front for the Jags' second takeaway.
"I'm disappointed in how I played," Pennington said. "You don't give your team much of a chance when you make three interceptions. When they jumped out on us so quick, they wouldn't quit and we knew we had to get multiple scores and press the issue a little."
Leftwich came on to lead an eight-play drive which culminated with a play-action dart to tight end George Wrighster. The fourth Jacksonville score came only after Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma was charged with a personal foul for a hit on Leftwich.
"I thought it was a nice clean hit," Vilma said. "I didn't go in there with my head. He still had the ball when I was taking him to the ground. I didn't feel that he would throw the flag and he threw the flag."
Even when the Jets made a positive play, they felt pain. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton sent Eric Barton on a well-developed blitz late in the second stanza. Leftwich, standing at his one-yard line, never picked up the blitzer and Barton delivered a big hit. Defensive end Shaun Ellis signaled safety while an official flagged Barton for a personal foul. It appeared Barton's helmet actually made direct contact with Leftwich's shoulder pad and not his head.
"We can't control flags," Barton said. "All we can do is go out and play hard. That is the referees' job to officiate and we just have to keep playing. We have to get better as a team. If you are playing well as a team, then those things don't hurt as much."
Jacksonville was not content with its 28-0 halftime advantage and widened the gap in the third on a Josh Scobee 43-yard field goal. Pennington was intercepted for a third time and Deon Grant's theft set his club up at the New York 24-yard line. Leftwich cashed in again, roping a 16 yard scoring pass to wideout Reggie Williams. The deficit was 38 points and there were still close to 24 minutes left to play.
"I don't have a lot of answers, but I trust that the guys in this group will work as hard as they need to work to fix whatever problems we have," said veteran defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen. "We'll get better; we need to get better, but we're not going to panic. We have to become a better team individually and collectively will take care of itself."
Scobee padded onto the lead before the Jets drove deep into Jacksonville territory. On fourth and goal from the one, Washington was upended by Sensabaugh before he could cross the white line. Coach Mangini relieved Pennington on the game's final possession and inserted rookie quarterback Kellen Clemens.
"We need to continually improve and this wasn't improvement," Mangini said. "This wasn't growth and progress. The only way we can continue to grow is evaluate what we did poorly – and there is plenty of it – and learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again."
The Jets return home next weekend to face division rival Miami (1-4) at the Meadowlands.
NotesPennington completed 10 of his 17 pass attempts for only 71 yards and he was sacked four times… Byron Leftwich, a fellow Marshall alum, hit on just nine of 20 for 140 yards with two touchdowns against no interceptions… Bryan Thomas' eight solo tackles led the defense… Australian punter Ben Graham averaged 49 yards on five punts including a 67-yard boot… Clemens, a 6'2", 223-pound Oregon product, threw once and the ball fell incomplete… Jacksonville held Laveranues Coles to three receptions. Jerricho Cotchery led the club with four catches for 49 yards… Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer got the ball to the versatile Brad Smith on the game's first offensive play. After motioning, Smith lined up at tailback and ran for five yards. He would later get a first down on a thee-yard gain when Smith lined up at quarterback and Pennington moved out wide to receiver.