Chad Pennington completed 70 percent of his passes Friday night, but he also threw two first-quarter interceptions that were returned for touchdowns as the Minnesota Vikings cruised to a 37-20 win at the Meadowlands.
The 'Vikes scored three defensive touchdowns as the Green & White, who played without both RB Thomas Jones (leg injury) and rookie CB Darrelle Revis, had their preseason record evened at 1-1.
"It's obviously disappointing. I told them after the game that if anybody has the impression this is OK because it's preseason, they're wrong," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini of the performance. "They better understand that next week we are going to work very hard to get these [mistakes] corrected, extremely hard to get these corrected, which I think they understand. It's too important not to."
The Jets' first two offensive possessions resulted in points. Pennington, who completed his first two passes of the summer season, never saw veteran safety Darren Sharper on his third toss. Sharper read the short pass over the middle, swiftly stepped in for an interception, and 40 yards later the Vikings had a touchdown lead.
"They rolled down into a coverage where we knew we couldn't run the football," Pennington said. "I checked to a pass and just lost sight of Sharper. I was going to throw to Jerricho [Cotchery]. Sharper slid inside and slid right back out. It was of those things where you'd like to have a string on a football so you could pull that one back"
But the Green & White answered with a 19-yard field goal from Mike Nugent. They weren't helped by a questionable penalty on the march. Cotchery, disappointed at not reaching the end zone following a 10-yard reception, was called for delay of game because he slapped the ball on the turf at the 1-yard line.
Despite that, the Jets still had two chances from the 1, but Pennington threw a 0-yard completion to Cotchery on second down and an incompletion on third down.
Moments later, the 2006 AP Comeback Player of the Year attempted to make something out of nothing. Defensive end Ray Edwards spun past left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and grabbed hold of Penny's feet. The quarterback threw across the field to RB Leon Washington, but LB Chad Greenway raced in front and ran 16 yards for another defensive score.
"When you are under pressure like that, you don't want to make something bad into something worse," said the Jets' starting signal caller. "Throw that one away and live to see another down."
The Jets countered with another Nugent field goal, a 34-yard strike. That second three pointer was set up by a Wallace Wright 38-yard kickoff return and 28 rushing yards from Leon Washington.
Minnesota's final touchdown of the first half came from its offensive unit. Rookie Adrian Peterson, the Vikings' first-round selection from Oklahoma, moved his team downfield and capped a seven-play, 77-yard march with a powerful 3-yard run. Peterson started it with a scintillating 43-yard run, avoiding a tackle attempt from CB Andre Dyson and then finishing the carry by initiating contact with CB David Barrett.
Great individual efforts from DE Shaun Ellis and then WR Justin McCareins would close the Vikings' gap.
Ellis, credited with two sacks on the night, sacked former teammate Brooks Bollinger in opposition territory and did a fine job in the scrum to come up with the loose ball.
Three plays later, Kellen Clemens threw short to McCareins and he took it from there. Slipping a tackle of corner Cedric Griffin, the Northern Illinois alum broke inside on S Dwight Smith and then Sharper before reaching the end zone. McCareins brought the crowd to its feet and gave the Jets a brief shot in the arm.
"It was just a normal 9-yard stop route. I broke a tackle and was trying to make a play and looking to score," said a humble J-Mac. "That's all I was trying to do."
Unfortunately, the Jets shot themselves in the foot again in the second half. Pete Kendall moved to center and two errant shotgun snaps proved costly. Kendall delivered way over the head of Kellen Clemens and DE Brian Robison recovered for a short score. Then a second bad snap — this one low and wide to Brad Smith — ended another Jets threat.
Marques Tuiasosopo and Jason Pociask finished New York's scoring, hooking up for a 23-yard TD. The Jets have now completed their preseason home schedule and will "visit" the Giants next week in the annual City Classic.
The Jets and Pennington seemed to steady the ship after the first interception, but Greenway's pick-six made it 14-3. Two defensive touchdowns in one quarter may have taken some wind out of their sails and it forced the home team into an unenviable climb.
"My mistakes are fixable. They are not things that can't be fixed," said Pennington. "They are things that I can fix really quickly, in a heartbeat."
Play of the Night
McCareins' TD was a beauty. Up here in the pressbox, Randy Lange said, "If this was a regular-season game, that would rank up right there with the [Laveranues] Coles and Cotchery scores against New England last year." No argument here.
Hit of the Night
Wallace Wright keeps showing up. In addition to a 38-yard kickoff return, he and safety Raymond Ventrone absolutely crushed rookie Aundrae Allison on a second-quarter return. Wright got there a split second before his teammate, but special assistant Teddy Atlas probably got a kick out of that 1-2 combo.
"Me and Ray are just doing what we are coached to do there," Wright said. "Mike Westhoff is a great special teams coach and has a great plan. We ran down there and did what we are supposed to do."
See You Sunday
Darrelle Revis, the club's No.1 draft pick who ended his holdout Wednesday, did not take part in game action. He did wear a Jets jersey for the first time and is expected to practice with the club Sunday. That workout is scheduled for 2 p.m.at the Weeb.
"Right now, I just have to take it one day at a time and listen to my coaches and do what they tell me to do," Revis said. "When it's time for me to get on the field and play, then that's when I'll play."
The preseason contest was broadcast live on Fox television. Joe Buck handled play-by-play duties and Troy Aikman had the color commentary. Also in attendance were Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson.