Pennington takes blame for Jets loss

Updated: October 27, 2003, 6:20 PM ET
ESPN

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- It was difficult for Chad Pennington to watch tape of the New York Jets' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

While he led the Jets on one touchdown drive in his return to the field Sunday, he threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter that the Eagles turned into the game-winning touchdown drive. Overall, it was a mixed day for the quarterback.

"It's painful, because we had the momentum and it gave them a little bit of life, because they were just about ready to fold the tent," Pennington said Monday. "We could have stuck the dagger in their heart and we didn't."

Pennington missed nine weeks after breaking his left wrist Aug. 23 in a preseason game against the New York Giants. Last week, coach Herman Edwards unveiled a unique but risky plan to play Pennington against the Eagles.

Vinny Testaverde started the game and led the Jets to 10 points on three possessions. Even though Testaverde was playing well, Edwards put Pennington in with 5:37 remaining in the second quarter, trailing 14-10.

On his first drive, he took the Jets from their 8-yard line down to the Eagles 20 before Santana Moss fumbled the ball away. But Pennington was on target, completing five of seven passes.

After an interception by Aaron Beasley, Pennington led a seven-play drive that ended when LaMont Jordan scored on a 4-yard run just before the end of the third quarter to put New York ahead 17-14. They had the momentum, but Pennington underthrew Moss and Michael Lewis came up with the interception, giving the Eagles the perfect opportunity to retake the lead.

They did when Donovan McNabb threw a 4-yard TD to Jon Ritchie.

"You can't blame Chad. Chad did not lose the game by any stretch of the imagination," Edwards said. "It's all of us. We didn't execute well enough in the fourth quarter."

That is an understatement. Though Edwards said after the game Pennington looked rusty, he cannot shoulder all the blame.

For starters, the defense did nothing right, missing tackles, blowing assignments and getting caught out of position throughout the game. The interception gave the Eagles the ball at their 43, but the Jets didn't come close to holding them.

The Eagles finished with 194 yards rushing -- with an average of 6.1 yards a carry -- and had 81 yards on the ground in the fourth quarter. Another astonishing stat: Philadelphia had the ball 10:44 in the fourth period to just 4:16 for the Jets.

Edwards said he might make changes defensively against the New York Giants this week. He could be without two more starters. Defensive end John Abraham had an MRI on his strained right groin and linebacker Mo Lewis had an MRI on his hip and back.

"You've got to find a way to make plays," Edwards said. "That's all you can ask of the players. You can't make them better players. They are as good as they can be and you just have to put them in a position where they can make plays. If we can do that, we'll start winning games again."

The Jets already have given up 1,112 yards on the ground this year to less-than-stellar backs like Correll Buckhalter, Ladell Betts, Troy Hambrick and Domanick Davis.

"That's how you can tell it's us," safety Sam Garnes said. "We have to find a way."

Pennington will start against the Giants and expects to play better. The Jets are desperate for a win after dropping to 2-5.

Last season, they had the same record before Pennington engineered a turnaround that led to an AFC East title.

"I always think I can play better whether we win or lose," Pennington said. "We had the Eagles right where we wanted them and we couldn't finish. That's something that we've got to do down the stretch if we expect to make the playoffs."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index