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Jets bask in their biggest playoff rout ever

1/5/2003

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- After what they went through to
make the playoffs, what a waste it would have been to exit early.

That was the message Herman Edwards gave his New York Jets. They
heeded it superbly, routing the befuddled Indianapolis Colts 41-0
Saturday.

After barely getting into the postseason, the Jets emphatically
showed they belong with their biggest playoff victory and their
first postseason shutout. Chad Pennington, the sparkplug of their
turnaround, threw for three touchdowns, LaMont Jordan ran for two
and the defense had Peyton Manning and the Colts off-stride from
the outset.

"I am so proud of my teammates to see in every one of them that
they are not complacent,'' Pennington said. "To me, it's special
when you're able to step in the huddle and see the intensity and
focus in the eyes of your teammates.''

New York (10-7) began the season 1-4, but won seven of its last
nine to storm to the AFC East title on the final day of the season.
The surge continued against the wild-card Colts (10-7).

"This is a breath of fresh air, but it is only the first win on
a long road,'' Wayne Chrebet said.

The Jets will be at either Oakland or Tennessee next weekend. It
was their first postseason victory since 1998, when they made it to
the AFC championship game, and the score matched the last playoff
game at the Meadowlands, when the Giants beat Minnesota for the
2000 NFC title.

"I'm 82-0 in my last two playoffs here,'' said safety Sam
Garnes, who was with those Giants. "It definitely feels good to do
41-0 as a Jet.''

The only more lopsided shutout win in NFL postseason history was
Chicago's 73-0 victory over Washington for the 1940 title.

This was the first NFL playoff game featuring two black head
coaches. The Colts' Tony Dungy and the Jets' Edwards, longtime
friends, are the only black head coaches in the league. Edwards
spent five seasons as Dungy's top assistant in Tampa before
becoming the Jets' coach in 2001.

The student came out on top of the mentor because his offense
was unstoppable, his defense stingy and his special teams dominant.

"I'm just thankful for our friendship and the chance he gave me
to stand here and be a head coach,'' Edwards said.

Dungy said he'll be rooting for Edwards' team the rest of the
way.

"They played awfully well and made us look awfully bad,'' said
Dungy, who took Indianapolis from 6-10 to 10-6 in his first season
after being fired by the Bucs.

On the Jets' fifth offensive play, Pennington's screen pass
floated into Richie Anderson's hands and he rambled down the left
side for a 56-yard score. The touchdown was the longest of his
10-year career, the longest this season for the Jets and the
longest scoring play from scrimmage in their playoff history.

The Peyton Manning-to-Marvin Harrison connection got the Colts
moving -- for just about the only time -- immediately after the TD
with three completions for 38 yards. But Mike Vanderjagt was short
and wide with a 41-yard field goal into the wind.

John Hall made one from the same spot early in the second
quarter for a 10-0 lead.

Troy Walters then fumbled the kickoff and Ray Mickens pounced on
it at the Indianapolis 39. Jordan eventually swept left from the 1
for a 17-point lead.

It became 24-0 with 37 seconds remaining in the first half when
Pennington rolled out and found Santana Moss alone in the right
corner of the end zone. Moss grabbed the high throw and barely got
both feet in-bounds.

In matching their biggest playoff output in a half, the Jets
effectively secured their spot in the next round of the playoffs.
But they didn't pull back. Chad Morton ran the second-half kickoff
70 yards to the Indy 19, setting up Hall's 39-yard field goal.
Rookie tight end Chris Baker caught his first TD pass, a 3-yarder
late in the third quarter. And Jordan, who rushed for 102 yards (89
in the second half), scored again from the 1 in the fourth period.

Manning was a miserable 14-for-31 for 137 yards and two
interceptions, and his team had the ball for just 19:42 -- 7:44 in
the second half.

Manning, who consistently barked instructions to his teammates
at the line of scrimmage -- often to no avail as New York's
aggressive defense applied steady pressure -- is 0-3 in the
playoffs, and this was the worst of those defeats.

"I tried to be patient,'' Manning said, "but I got to be
impatient because the more you get in the hole, they more they take
you out of your game plan. So I ended up doing a lot of things I
shouldn't have.''

He wasn't helped by six drops and an offensive line that
couldn't keep pressure off him. Harrison, who smashed the NFL
record with 143 receptions this season, had only four Saturday.

"This was more than we could ask for,'' Jets linebacker Marvin
Jones said. "But the job isn't done.''

Game notes
Pennington, the league's most efficient passer, wound up
19-for-25 for 222 yards. ... Donnie Abraham and James Darling had
the interceptions. ... Pennington tied the team record for TD
passes in a playoff game, held by Joe Namath in the 1968 AFL
championship game vs. Oakland, and Vinny Testaverde last year in a
loss to the Raiders. ... The only other playoff game between the
franchises was the Jets' 1969 Super Bowl win. ... The much-maligned
Giants Stadium turf was not a factor, even though it was chewed up
by the second quarter.