Jets fall on Monday Night

<P>EAST RUTHERFORD&nbsp;- The stage was set for a glorious Monday night return of Jets home football. Coach Herman Edwards presented New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani with the game ball from last week's win at New England. That was a part of stylish pregame ceremonies honoring the victims and rescue workers at the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Even Fireman Ed was back to lead the cheers. </P>

Unfortunately, not enough of the Jets' new football systems showed up, and the San Francisco 49ers gave Gang Green the bum's rush in a 19-17 victory at Giants Stadium. And we do mean rush. The Niners, led by Garrison Hearst's 95 yards and rookie Kevan(CQ) Barlow's 83, steamrolled for 233 rushing yards - the most given up by the Jets since the infamous Neil O'Donnell warmup calf pull game, when the Oilers gushed for 243 yards.

``Obviously, it was embarrassing,'' said Edwards, the most upset he's been after a game since taking over the Jets' fortunes in January. ``We have to find 11 guys who want to tackle. That'll start Wednesday. If we have to start a new defense, then it'll be a new defense. We can't have guys who don't want to tackle. ``You just can't let people run the ball on you like that. It looked like college football - it was like a wishbone offense out there.''

Before talking with the media, Edwards made the same forceful points with his players, and they put their own spins on their outing and what it portends for the future.

 ``We've been working on it ever since training camp,'' defensive end John Abraham said. ``We thought we got better. In the first game we missed 13. The second game it was only six. This game I think we missed about 80.''

``We came out and laid an egg,'' strong safety Victor Green said. ``We had a chance to showcase ourselves and show how good our team is and we didn't do that. We've got to find a way to correct this.''

 Martin didn't mince words: ``We were totally embarrassed on national TV.'' Have the Jets ever seen Edwards so livid?

``I can't recall, right off the top of my head,'' said free safety Damien Robinson, who knows Edwards from their time in Tampa Bay. ``He's one of those guys who hates to lose more than anybody.''

``He was different than we're used to,'' said quarterback Vinny Testaverde. ``He probably held some things back ... like I'm doing right now.''

The defense suffered the biggest letdown, but it wasn't alone. The Jets' West Coast offense West-Coasted most of the game between two Curtis Martin touchdown runs, on their second drive of the game and their last. Tight end Anthony Becht, after favorable reviews in the first two games, struggled big-time in prime time with three dropped passes. The third came one play before Becht couldn't block Niners first-round end Andre Carter, who dropped Testaverde for his first pro sack.

``That's not me,'' said Becht, who came into the game with the best yards-after-catch average, 6.8 yards, on the team. ``I don't do that kind of stuff. I work too hard to be doing that kind of stuff. I'm disappointed with my game.''

Testaverde, who completed just 11 of 24 passes but for 192 yards and still no interceptions this season, didn't totally disagree. ``Anthony had a rough night,'' he said. ``I told him to shake it off. I told him to catch the ball before he runs.''

And the special teams provided insults and injury. John Hall's 50-yard field goal try in the second quarter was partially blocked, giving the Niners field position on their 40 to mount a drive to the first of four Jose Cortez field goals that gave them a lead they never lost. And kick returner Chad Morton aggravated his right ankle sprain in the second quarter and didn't return.

Were there good things amid the bad? Sure. Wide receiver Wayne Chrebet had three catches for 64 yards, his first two providing his first third-down conversions of the season. Wideout Matthew Hatchette caught his first pass and rookie back LaMont Jordan had his first non-garbage-time carry as a pro, gaining 3 yards on their lone field goal drive.

Defensively, linebacker James Farrior again topped the tackle charts with 10 and forced a fumble that new nose tackle Tom Barndt recovered. On kickoff returns, there was no dropoff from Morton to Laveranues Coles, who averaged 29.0 yards on three return bursts. And there was nearly another Monday night miracle. Martin's second TD made it 19-17 with 50 seconds to go. Only a John Hall onsides kick stood between an ugly defeat and possibly a Monday night comeback win to rival last year's Game 2 against New England and Game 7 vs. Miami. But Terry Jackson snagged Hall's hard hopper and the Niners ran out the clock. None of that faked out Edwards. ``The [233] yards made it worse than the scoreboard indicated,'' he said. ``If we pull it out, we're happy and patting each other on the back but still something is wrong. ``I don't think the guys laid down and quit. ... They weren't flat. They just didn't tackle.''

Now the Jets have to tackle a suddenly difficult challenge. They could have gone 2-1 to move back into a first-place tie in the AFC East. Instead, they're 1-2 and face the wounded and winless Bills, who surely could rise up at Ralph Wilson Stadium and stampede the Jets if they're not ready for the challenge.


Jets Insider Top Stories