Jets' Clemens leaves game after suffering rib injury

Updated: December 16, 2007, 7:01 PM ET
Associated Press

Kellen Clemens


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Stuck in his own end zone with All-Pro defender Richard Seymour closing in, New York Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens had to unload the ball in a hurry.

He got the pass off -- only to have Eugene Wilson intercept it and run it back for a touchdown on just the Jets' second offensive play of the game. And that wasn't the worst of it for Clemens.

When Seymour slammed him to the turf, Clemens landed on his arm and sustained what he called a rib injury. It was his only pass of the day; he did not return to the game.

"Instead of taking a sack, I threw it and landed on my right arm," Clemens said after the Patriots beat the Jets 20-10 and improved to 14-0. "It [the pain] wasn't anything immediate."

Brad Smith, a receiver who serves as the fourth quarterback, replaced Clemens, but Chad Pennington took most of the snaps for the rest of the game. Pennington completed 25 of 38 passes for 186 yards, but he managed to drive the Jets (3-11) to a single field goal (they missed on another).

"I've been in this situation before, and what I have learned is that you have to prepare as the starter and understand you're not going to get the [snaps] in practice," Pennington said. "Once Kellen went down, I had to refocus my mind."

The Jets announced that Clemens would probably return, but he didn't.

"As we looked at it and we talked to the doctors, I thought it was best to continue on with Chad," coach Eric Mangini said. "When he was called on, he went in and I thought he did a very good job."

Mangini would not commit to a starter for next week's game against the Tennessee Titans.

"I'll have to look at everything and evaluate it," he said. "We have the injury. We don't really have as much information now as we will have later on."

Pennington will be waiting.

"I prepare as hard as I can and do everything I'm supposed to do to be ready," he said. "And when I'm called on, I'll be ready."

Pennington started the season as the No. 1 quarterback, but he was benched in favor of Clemens after the Jets won just one of their first eight games. During practice last week, he portrayed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for New York's scout team.

But when he hit the field at Gillette Stadium, he didn't play much like the two-time Super Bowl MVP at all.

"The first series or two, I felt weird because I hadn't had many reps," Pennington said. "What was different is you go from being a spectator with no adrenaline to going out and playing with total adrenaline.

"But that's good. You need it to play with intensity, desire and drive."

Smith also came off the bench, taking nine snaps at quarterback. On the first down after replacing Clemens, the former college QB made a nice pitch to Leon Washington on an option play for a 49-yard pickup to the Patriots' 25 yard-line.

"They put Smith back there in the backfield a lot, run the dive, run the option, run the pitch," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "We just didn't play it as well as we needed to."

But Smith, working in a rotation with Pennington, also killed a down with a fumble and then threw an incompletion on fourth-and-2 from the New England 17 -- his only pass of the game.

Jets coach Eric Mangini said using Smith was a way to get around the line more quickly.

"You have a running/quarterback that can do a lot of things, and Pennington manages the game very well," Patriots linebacker Junior Seau said. "It was definitely keeping us off balance on the defensive side, but for the most part we hung in there."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press