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Washington has career day as Jets fend off Lions

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New York Jets are getting
pretty good at these suspenseful endings, complete with lots of
nail biting, sweating and nervous energy throughout the stadium.

"I didn't take a deep breath until we got that last first
down," coach Eric Mangini said with a big smile.

Leon Washington rushed for 129 yards on 20 carries, scored the
first two touchdowns of his career, and sealed the win by running
for a first down with just over two minutes left as the Jets held
on to beat the Detroit Lions 31-24 on Sunday.

The Lions put a scare into the Jets, who led the entire game, by
getting within a touchdown with 2:22 left when an outstretched Mike
Furrey caught the ball in the back right-corner of the end zone.
Mangini challenged the play, but it was upheld with officials
saying Furrey got both feet in bounds and had control of the ball.

New York (4-3) got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff and ran
out the clock to escape with a victory, matching its total from
last season.

"We weren't expected to win but four games this year if you let
the so-called experts tell it," wide receiver Laveranues Coles
said. "Again, we've got four wins, but we can't rest our hats upon
that."

The Jets, whose previous three victories were all decided on the
opponents' last possession, won consecutive home games for the
first time since 2004. But again, it didn't come easily.

After the Lions (1-6) closed within a touchdown with just over
nine minutes remaining, Chad Pennington completed a 16-yard pass to
Chris Baker, and Brad Smith followed with a 2-yard run. Tyoka
Jackson was called for defensive holding on the play, one of nine
penalties called on the Lions, moving the Jets further into Detroit
territory. Washington then took the ball, ran to the left and
scooted 16 yards -- tiptoeing the sideline -- with 4:51 left.

"It was unbelievable for him to maintain his balance,"
Pennington said. "That was a big-time play."

New York took advantage of Detroit being without their two
starting defensive tackles, Shaun Rogers and Shaun Cody, finishing
with 221 yards rushing.

"It's disappointing, in terms of our run defense," Lions coach
Rod Marinelli said. "If any one thing jumped out, we couldn't
control the run game. In this league, if you can't stop the run,
you're not going to win."

Washington had his second 100-yard rushing game, and Kevan
Barlow added 49 yards and a TD on 12 carries.

"Whenever you run the ball, you're able to control the defense
and you can do things in your favor that help you win the game,"
Washington said. "Today, we came out and obviously ran the ball
early and were effective."

Kevin Jones scored on a 9-yard shovel pass from Jon Kitna to cut
Detroit's deficit to 24-17 with 9:09 left. Kitna converted two
third-down passes for first downs and a 17-yard pass to Furrey on
fourth-and-11 to set up Jones' score.

"We're just not finishing games," said Kitna, who was 22-of-36
for 269 yards, three TDs and two interceptions. "We're not
starting very good and we're not finishing good in the fourth
quarter. That makes it hard. We've played good in spurts."

The Jets scored their first first-quarter offensive touchdown in
20 games on Washington's first career TD 2:45 in.

"We knew we needed to get off to a fast start as far as keeping
their offense off the field," Pennington said.

Justin McCareins' 44-yard touchdown catch made it 14-0 with 4:02
left in the opening quarter. On third-and-1 from the Lions 44
following an offsides penalty on Kalimba Edwards, Pennington ran
the play-action to perfection, freezing the linebackers and freeing
up McCareins down the right sideline for his first reception since
Week 2.

Pennington finished 16-of-22 for 189 yards with a touchdown and
an interception.

Roy Williams caught a 22-yard pass from Kitna to make it 14-7
with 7:54 left in the half. Williams, who came in leading the NFL
in yards receiving, was held to two catches for 29 yards.

Justin Miller put the Jets in great position on the ensuing
kickoff, returning the ball 56 yards to Detroit's 41. Six plays
later, Barlow plowed up the middle for his fifth touchdown of the
season, giving the Jets a 21-7 lead with 5:28 left in the half.

Jason Hanson kicked a 25-yard field goal to cap a 12-play,
83-yard drive by the Lions to make it 21-10 with 4:57 left in the
third quarter.

Nugent's 33-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give
the Jets a 24-10 lead.

"That was a very winnable game," Williams said. "Once again,
we were our own worst enemy today: penalties and turnovers."

Game notes
The Jets' 14 first-quarter points were their most since
scoring 14 at San Diego on Sept. 19, 2004. ... Umpire Bill Schuster
had his nose bloodied when he was knocked down at the end of a
running play by Washington in the third quarter. He went to the
sideline, was treated and was back on the field for the next play.
... Neither team reported any injuries.