The Jets, honoring their past with their 1962 blue and gold Titans throwback uniforms, attempted to give the Meadowlands faithful some American Football League-style last-minute theater Sunday. In the end, though, the Philadelphia Eagles did just enough to capture a 16-9 victory.
Held without a touchdown for the first time this season, the Jets had a chance to tie late as they reached the Philadelphia 4-yard line with three minutes remaining. But Birds CB Sheldon Brown blanketed Laveranues Coles on Chad Pennington's fourth-down throw into the end zone and the Eagles ran out the clock from there. The Jets couldn't get the one yard needed for a first down after Pennington was stopped on a third-down sneak.
"It's the way the season is going — six inches," Pennington said of the end zone pass. "He knocks it down instead of us catching it."
It was another frustrating day for the Jets' offense. Pennington completed 11 of 21 passes for 121 yards and was intercepted once by Brown. With Pennington suffering his first three-game losing streak as an NFL starter, the Jets have fallen to 1-5 while the Eagles improved to 2-3.
"Everybody wants answers. Sometimes there aren't a lot of answers," said the Jets signalcaller. "You just have to keep working through it and realize the things you believe in the most — the core values you believe in — push you through these times and eventually get you back on the winning edge."
The Eagles combined a good defensive effort with a 278-yard passing day from Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook's 156 yards of offense (120 rushing, 36 receiving).
"We play in spurts," said a dejected Kerry Rhodes, "but spurts aren't good enough in this league. There are too many good players in this league and too many good teams to play good for half of the game or portions of the game and expect to win."
Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said his running game had to improve and boy, did it, courtesy of the Jones express. TJ totaled 82 yards on the ground in the first quarter alone, finished the first half with 96 yards on 13 carries, crossed the century mark in the third frame, and concluded with 130 yards on 24 carries. But the Jets couldn't take advantage with any TDs for the first time since last year's Game 10 shutout vs. Chicago.
"The offensive line did a really good job today of coming off the ball and being aggressive," Jones said. "The tight ends did a great job of coming off the ball. Coach Schottenheimer and the offensive coaches did a great job of making the right run calls at the right time. I think we all really worked well together today."
Down, 16-6, in the fourth, well-traveled CB Hank Poteat picked an opportune time for his first career interception. McNabb, who had been sacked by Kerry Rhodes at his 2-yard line, misfired his next play and Poteat was well-positioned in center field for the takeaway, which he batted to himself. But the offense couldn't make it count with seven points, settling for Mike Nugent's third field goal despite starting at the Philly 17.
"I was playing the post and I just happened to be at the right spot at the right time," Poteat said. "It was almost too good to be true because I almost missed it. I'm like 'Wow, that's coming right at me.' "
The Jets got off to a good start offensively and so did the Eagles. Jones rushed for 47 yards on the opening possession, including a 36-yard charge on the first play from scrimmage, leading to a Nugent 30-yard field goal. The lead was short-lived, though, as McNabb's second pass — a short slant to WR Kevin Curtis — went for a 75-yard touchdown when S Eric Smith, making his second straight start, and CB Andre Dyson couldn't take him down.
On this windy fall day, the elements had an effect on Nugent's 44-yard miss to the right late in the first quarter. David Akers and the Jets' placekicker exchanged chip shots early in the second to make it a 10-6 contest. Leon Washington, who continues to excel in his return role, set up the second three-pointer with a 51-yard kickoff runback.
The Eagles held the ball for 8:23 on a second-quarter drive, but they failed to capitalize with Akers' 41-yard field goal attempt blowing right of the upright in the east end zone. Westbrook had a 19-yard TD run taken off the board on the possession because of a holding penalty on guard Shawn Andrews.
Those strong gusts near the east end zone got the last laugh in the half, blowing a second Akers field goal to the right. Moving the opposite way, Akers — true from 31 —and the Eagles finally jumped ahead, 13-6, midway through the third.
A third Akers boot pushed it to 16-6. Brown intercepted Pennington to halt a Jets drive and the Eagles responded with their fourth score, culminating a 10-play possession.
Despite the new look, the Jets couldn't change their fortunes on Titans Throwback Day.
"We know how much time we spend working on the game plan, on trying to execute the game plan and doing things the right way," said head coach Eric Mangini. "Then to not get the results you are looking for — it makes you angry, it makes you frustrated. That's how people feel."
"We have to do something to turn it around," said DE Shaun Ellis. "We have to."
Erik Coleman suited up and played for the Jets, but Smith was in the starting lineup for the second consecutive week. Both safeties spent time with the first unit. Coleman had eight tackles (five solo) and Smith one stop.
Flag-FreeThe Jets were called for zero penalties for the first time in six seasons. The last time they committed no penalties in a game was in a 27-7 win over the Chiefs in the Meadowlands on Nov. 11, 2001.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis prevented a second-quarter touchdown, deflecting a McNabb fade intended for Jason Avant. Late in the stanza, ILB David Harris got his hand in front of a McNabb rocket thrown to TE Matt Schobel.
LB Jonathan Vilma absolutely crushed WR Hank Baskett, holding the Eagle to just a 6-yard gain on third-and-20 preceding Akers' first FG miss.
A Couple of Firsts
Kenyon Coleman picked up his first sack as a Jet and LB Bryan Thomas and DT Dewayne Robertson both got in the sack column for the first time this season. The Coleman sack of McNabb came on the Jets' first defensive play, while BT and D-Rob split a second-quarter 4-yard drop of McNabb.
At halftime, the Jets honored four former Titans — Don Maynard, Bill Mathis, Larry Grantham and John "Curley" Johnson. All four players went on to play for the Jets and were members of the Super Bowl III-winning squad.