Gang Green loses battle for bragging rights

The Jets lost the battle for New York bragging rights 31-28 to the Giants in an overtime thriller. Their record falls to 2-6 despite Chad Pennington's return as the starting quarterback and a valiant effort to come back from a 14-point deficit to send the game into overtime. <BR><BR>

"It is devastating, because we are so close," said Jets wide receiver Santana Moss. "We had a chance. That's the worst part about it."

The Jets got off to a good start as they drove down the field 60 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown on their opening drive. It would be the only bright spot early on for the team though as the Giants would take control for the rest of the half.

Gang Green turned the ball over three times in the first thirty minutes as they set up their state rivals with good scoring opportunities. The Giants would take advantage of two of them with field goals from kicker Brett Conway. But while the Jets went into the half down 13-3, it could have been a lot worse and the team was very fortunate that the giveaways did not result in touchdowns instead of field goals. The second half would be a different story however as Gang Green would make things very interesting.

Pennington and company came charging out on the opening possession in the third quarter with a 12-play drive covering 75 yards. It was capped with a 25-yard touchdown pass by Pennington to Moss. Gang Green took the lead 14-13 but the Giants would not go away.

Big Blue took the ensuing drive the same distance in the same amount of plays to give them a 20-14 lead. Quarterback Kerry Collins found wide receiver Ike Hilliard behind Jets' defensive tackle Dwayne Robertson for a 6-yard scoring strike. The score gave the momentum back to the Giants and they would go on to create more damage.

They took control of the game in the beginning of the fourth quarter as strong safety Shaun Williams intercepted a Pennington pass and returned it to the Jets' 43. The Giants would ultimately take advantage of this turnover with a touchdown as running back Dorsey Levens bulled into the end zone eight plays later. With a 26-14 lead, head coach Jim Fassel opted to go for two and Collins converted the conversion to give them a two touchdown lead with under ten minutes left.

The game looked hopeless for Gang Green at that point but head coach Herman Edwards would not let them give up. Pennington guided the team on their next possession to a score culminating in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Moss. It was the third scoring toss to Moss in the game as he had a career day with 10 receptions for 121 yards.

The Jets then went on to stop the Giants to get the ball back and give them a chance to tie the game. They would make good on it as they stormed down the field 86 yards to even up the score at 28-28. Pennington found Anthony Becht in the end zone and slipped the ball through two Giants defenders into the tight end's hands to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, both teams set up for game-clinching field goals only to be disappointed. Conway missed from 39 yards and the Jets' Doug Brien would have his 51-yard attempt blocked by the Giants' Will Allen. There was just under four minutes left to play and the Giants had the ball on their own 36. The possibility of a tie was strong but Big Blue did not want another win to slip through their fingers in what has been a very embarrassing season. Not to mention Conway did not want to be the next hated special teams player to hear from the fans and media if he did not get a chance to redeem himself. "I told Conway to keep his head up," Fassel said.

Collins guided his squad down to the Jets 12-yard line to set up another attempt for Conway. He would not hook this try though as he drilled the 29-yard kick to give the Giants their second consecutive victory. Their record improves to 4-4.

The Jets lost their second straight game as their chances of making the playoffs appear to be quite slim. They are in last place by themselves and would most likely have to win seven of their remaining eight games for them to have any thoughts of gaining a Wild Card berth. But they fought hard to come back and it did not go unnoticed by their opponent. "It's actually sad in a way to see the looks on their faces after they fought back and played as hard as they did," said Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. "I'm glad we got Pennington when we did. He's just starting to warm up."

But even though the loss is depressing for Gang Green, they are not likely to give up on what has been a very disappointing season up to this point. "It's a hard one to take," said Moss. "We still have hope though. We are going to try to get a win next week and get in the hunt."

The Jets hurt themselves by turning the ball over in their own territory. They gave the ball away four times with the Giants scoring 14 points in return. The worst mishap came in overtime with the blocked kick that was hurried due to confusion on the Jets' sideline. There will most likely be questions for Edwards throughout the week on whether he should have punted instead of a desperate field goal attempt.

"It is a tough kick, but we are trying to win the game," Edwards said. "You can second-guess and say we should have punted, but we are trying to win the game."

Pennington was impressive in his first start of the season despite throwing two interceptions. He finished the day completing 27 of 45 passes for 281 yards and 4 touchdowns. But even though his numbers were remarkable after coming back from injury, it was not enough. "It hurts," he said. "It's frustrating. It's frustrating."

The Jets will have a chance to ease the frustration as they will take on the Oakland Raiders on the road. The Raiders current record is 2-6 as they are coming off a 23-13 defeat to the Detroit Lions. Gang Green has lost three straight to the Silver & Black including their last two playoff appearances.


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