The New York Jets wrapped up their 2007 preseason in winning fashion, taking a 13-11 decision over the Philadelphia Eagles tonight at Lincoln Financial Field. Mike Nugent's 35-yard field goal at the final gun gave the visitors a last-second win.
Both teams rested the overwhelmingly majority of their starters as the Green & White, who open the regular season Sept. 9 at home against the New England Patriots, finished the summer with a 3-1 record.
With neither Chad Pennington nor Donovan McNabb taking a snap and reserves all over the field, the game didn't have the buildup that their Week 6 matchup promises to have. But it was important for the coaching staffs to get final looks at their teams before Saturday's mandatory cutdown to 53 players.
"It is always a tough time of year," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "A lot of guys have worked extremely hard and I'm thankful for the things that they've done and there are a lot of good people. That's just the difficult part of the process."
"It is a challenge to us as an organization. We want to put the best 53 players on the field that we can," added GM Mike Tannenbaum. "That could be on the field tonight, but it also could be coming from an unexpected cut. We will be working hard through the weekend to see if we can add to the depth of the roster."
The Jets looked to be on their way to a comfortable victory on this night until rookie QB Kevin Kolb threw a 31-yard scoring pass to Zac Collie with less than three minutes remaining. That cut the New York lead to 10-9 and Eagles head coach Andy Reid decided to keep Kolb on the field for a two-point attempt. The Houston product rolled right and fired a strike to FB Nate Ilaoa for the lead.
Quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, vying to become the Jets' third quarterback, earlier broke open a fourth-quarter deadlock. His 11-yard scoring run completed a short 36-yard drive set up by a defensive takeaway. Linebacker Anthony Schlegel forced a fumble that CB Drew Coleman recovered for the Jets in the closing moments of the third.
"It was a lot of fun. I love competing and I love playing," said Tuiasosopo, who was 9 of 16 for 78 yards. "To go out there and have the opportunity to lay it out on the line, see where the chips fall, that was a great feeling."
Kellen Clemens started at quarterback for the Jets, playing a quarter and completing his only two throws. He gave way to Brad Smith for the second quarter and Tuiasosopo played the entire second half. After falling behind late, "Tui" orchestrated a 16-play possession that culminated with Nugent's final kick.
"I think Marques did an unbelievable job. His clock management was great," Nugent said of the late march. "That's something we've worked on a lot."
Reserve DT C.J. Mosley took advantage of a rare start. He was dominant in the opening quarter, registering three sacks of A.J. Feeley — two of which forced fumbles. He delivered a vicious blow to an unsuspecting Feeley on the Eagles' second drive. Later on that same possession, Mosley stopped a threat with a strip-sack of the Philly QB and LB David Bowens recovered for the visitors.
"I don't think I had anything like that my whole life," Mosley said of the memorable quarter.
"I thought C.J. Mosley did a really nice job. He's been able to provide some pressure throughout the preseason with four-man rushes and even three-man rushes, so that's been positive," said Mangini.
And now after a long off-season, the Jets can finally set their sights on the Patriots.
Both Darrelle Revis and Jacob Bender started tonight. They also could be in the opening-day starting lineup. Bender, a sixth-round pick from Nicholls State, is making a case for himself at left guard.
"Right now we are encouraged by what both Jacob Bender and Adrien Clarke are doing," Tannenbaum said. "We will always look for ways to improve the team. That is something Eric [Mangini] and I are committed too, so it's an onward process."
Chansi Stuckey finished a good rookie preseason on a high note. The wide receiver, a seventh-round selection from Clemson, made a couple of nice moves and eluded a few would-be tacklers on a 38-yard punt return. He also had four receptions for 47 yards and averaged 27 yards on three kickoff returns.
"My ultimate goal coming into training camp was to get better each day, learn the playbook and just with every opportunity try to make something happen," he said.
"I have been really happy with Chansi throughout training camp," Mangini said. "I think that he's done a nice job creating roles for himself."
Brad Smith, the Jets' multipurpose weapon who relieved Kellen Clemens at the start of the second quarter, threw an impressive strike to Frisman Jackson for a 29-yard gain following Stuckey's punt return.
Hit of the Night
Feeley never saw Mosley coming on his second sack. He got absolutely jacked up from behind and was fortunate to escape injury at the hands of the 6'2", 312-pounder.
Veteran D-linemen Bobby Hamilton and Mosley each registered five solo tackles. Schlegel also pitched in with six tackles (four solos) in addition to the critical forced fumble.
"I just have to go out there and show that I can still play," said the 36-year-old Hamilton. "All I can do is just go out there and perform on the field and whatever happens, happens."
Stacy Tutt got the chance to run with the ball at the Linc and posted decent stats, carrying 11 times for 45 yards. Both were team highs.