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Pennington gets first career 300-yard game

10/20/2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Curtis Martin hopes Chad Pennington's performance Sunday changes the way opposing teams look
at the New York Jets.

Question on the Vikings: Do they start looking ahead to fielding a better team in 2003?
Yes. Today's loss basically sealed their fate this season -- they'll be a losing team, and coach Mike Tice will need to deal with the lingering emotional effects of that. That may be even more important than fixing the problems on offense and defense.

Question on the Jets: Did they show you anything or was this win the product of playing a bad team?

The latter. But QB Chad Pennington played well for the second week in a row, and he used some guys who had dropped off the radar, like Santana Moss and Wayne Chrebet. So that could bode well for the Jets.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Pennington had a career day, completing 24 of 29 passes for 324
yards to lead the Jets past the Minnesota Vikings 20-7.

"Some of my friends would say to me, 'Curtis, we're coming in
there to shut you down,''' Martin said. "That's not the case
anymore. Now when teams look at us, they know they can't put the
eight-man front in there.''

With Pennington opening up the offense, and the defense suddenly
looking more aggressive, the Jets (2-4) won for the first time
since opening the season with a victory over Buffalo in overtime.

Minnesota (1-5), which was coming off a win over the Detroit
Lions, has lost 13 straight road games -- 14 counting the NFC
championship game loss to the New York Giants in January 2001.

Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss struggled to connect. Culpepper
threw three interceptions, and Moss had just four catches for 86
yards.

Pennington won his first game as a starter since taking over for
Vinny Testaverde, looking like a veteran as he dissected the
league's second-worst secondary. He threw crisp and accurate passes
to seven different receivers, from Wayne Chrebet to backup fullback
Jerald Sowell.

Santana Moss easily had the best day of his career, getting his
first career 100-yard game with five catches for 111 yards. Moss
came into the game with just six receptions for 109 yards.

"I believe in all my receivers,'' Pennington said. "When you
have Santana Moss, Wayne Chrebet and Laveranues Coles on the field,
somebody is going to get open. They make plays.''

New York's maligned defense forced four turnovers. Two ended
drives deep in Jets territory, and the Jets caused a fumble to end
another possession.

Linebacker Mo Lewis had his best performance of the season,
grabbing an interception, forcing the key fumble and pressuring
Culpepper all afternoon.

"We have a lot of talented players, and what they need to do is
play together as a football team and believe in what we're doing,''
Jets coach Herman Edwards said. "We did that today. They have a
lot of pride, and they don't want to play the way we played the
last four weeks.''

Stopping Moss was a huge key, and Moss was frustrated after the
game because no one else had come through on offense.

"We have 11 players on offense,'' Moss said. "Somebody needs
to take the pressure off of me. Our offense is better than what
we've been showing the last few weeks. It's just a trickle effect.
Everybody has to make the plays, not just me. Not just Daunte.''

Lewis came up with key plays at the most opportune moments.
After the Jets took a 3-0 lead, the Vikings drove into Jets
territory in the second quarter. On third-and-4 from the Jets 7,
Lewis intercepted Culpepper's pass to end the threat.

In the third quarter, the Vikings again were in Jets territory
at the 24-yard line, but Lewis put a stop to the drive when he
forced Michael Bennett to fumble. Marvin Jones recovered.

"We have to eliminate turnovers as a whole, not anywhere on the
field,'' Culpepper said. "We have to eliminate them to be
successful.''

Meanwhile, the Jets' offense controlled the ball and the game.
Pennington gave the Jets a 10-0 lead just before halftime when he
found Coles for a 7-yard touchdown pass.

In the third quarter, Pennington guided the Jets on a six-play,
90-yard drive that included a 46-yard completion to Moss and a
28-yarder to Coles. Martin completed the drive with a 5-yard TD run
that made the score 17-0.

In the third quarter alone, Pennington went 7-of-7 for 120
yards.

The Jets hope to use this victory as a springboard, starting
against Cleveland next Sunday.

"We get some confidence now,'' Edwards said. "It makes you
feel better about everything. It's something these guys have not
tasted for a while.''

Game notes
With an interception Sunday, Donnie Abraham now has an
NFL-best 22 picks since the beginning of the 1999 season. ... FB
Richie Anderson extended his streak with at least one reception to
55 straight regular-season games. ... Martin eclipsed the
12,000-yard mark in the third quarter.