Raiders grounded in OT

OAKLAND, Calif. -- During the week, Herman Edwards called Doug Brien up to his office and told him to forget about the Giants and that 51-yard block.

``The biggest thing for a kicker is confidence. You have to have confidence of your team and your coach,'' Brien said. ``He absolutely never wavered.''

And Edwards had all the confidence in Northern California that Brien was going to drill the kick Sunday that would bring the Jets all the way back to beat the Raiders.

``No doubt in my mind,'' he said. ``But I walked away. I didn't look.''

Had Herm watched, he would have seen Brien's solid but feathery kick from 38 yards out -- a standard practice-range kick -- from the right hashmark, right down the middle, almost six minutes into overtime. And so the Jets, looking very dead for 2 1/2 quarters in the Black Hole, stunned Raider Nation with a comeback from a 21-10 deficit to a 27-24 overtime victory.

Chad Pennington, who won a game for the first time this season by directing late drives of 65, 73, and 54 yards to the Jets' final 17 points, said before the kick, ``I told Herm we were going to be the happiest 3-6 team in the NFL after we win this game.''

Pennington's belief was infectious, not to mention counterintuitive to all the fans watching the game. For the game's first 2 1/2 quarters, the Raiders were executing their game plan, having fill-in QB Rick Mirer hand off to his fleet of running backs, who were leaving silver and black tire tracks on the backs of the Jets' run defenders.

A loss to the dysfunctional Raiders, who also came in 2-6, combined with the 31-28 OT loss to the Giants, would have sent the Jets into their final seven games with nothing, instead of only a very little, to play for.

``It was disheartening last week to lose a game like that,'' said Edwards, who instead coached the Jets to their second win in his five trips to the other city by the Bay. ``The things we did today were, we didn't turn the ball over, we played hard, and we found a way to win in the end. It shows a lot of the character of the guys on this team.''

The character was well-disguised when the Raiders opened a 21-10 first-half lead on a Phillip Buchanon punt return, a 19-play -- all runs! -- touchdown drive, and Mirer's weather-balloon fade pass to Jerry Porter over rookie safety Derek Pagel.

But the fire first flared perhaps in the halftime locker room when LaMont Jordan, the smoldering backup running back, gave his teammates some choice words.

``He said, `Somebody's season is going to end today, and it can't be ours,'' Curtis Martin said.

Coordinator Ted Cottrell also lit into the defense, which had yielded 117 rushing yards at the half. And the Raiders opened the third quarter as they had the first, with a march deep into Jets territory. When they got to the 12, they were threatening to blow it open.

Instead, Tyrone Wheatley, on a sweep left, had the ball pried from his grip by Aaron Beasley, with Marvin Jones recovering the fumble.

Disaster averted. Comeback begun.

The offense didn't awaken all at once, but suddenly the tables turned. Jordan stormed up the middle for 39 yards to convert a third-and-1, then 40 seconds into the fourth quarter he corkscrewed off his right guard to cut the lead to 21-16.

The Jets went for two points and couldn't convert, but when Oakland made a last gasp 13-play drive to Sebastian Janikowski's short field goal, the visitors had 3:27 to score eight points and send it to overtime again.

``I told our guys in the huddle, first of all, we're going to win this game,'' Pennington said. ``Second, we have to take it one play at a time. There's some special guys in our huddle, especially the linemen. Those guys believed.''

Pennington's floater to Jerald Sowell over linebacker Napoleon Harris for 44 yards started the drive, and his play-fake 3-yard toss to Sowell, who beat Harris to the pylon, cut the lead to two points.

Pennington's small-window conversion pass to tight end Anthony Becht between two linebackers withstood a replay review from the NFL booth, and the game was headed to the fifth period.

The Jets got the kickoff and never gave it back. Santana Moss, who began Gang Green's day with a 65-yard touchdown catch after Raiders DE DeLawrence Grant's attempt to throw Moss to the ground failed miserably, crowned his career-high 171-yards-from-scrimmage game with a 25-yard reverse to the Raiders 45.

When the booth replayed the spot of Jordan's run, making it fourth-and-1 instead of first-and-10, Brien had the time he didn't have last week to stretch, hop, and shadow-kick before making the real field goal.

``It feels good,'' Jones deadpanned. ``The thing is, it'd feel a lot better if we'd won in the (bleeping) playoffs.''

That's not possible. But fullback Jerald Sowell said of the Jets' final eight games, ``we're on a mission.'' And heading into Indianapolis, it just got upgraded to Mission: Improbable.

``I don't think with our record right now we can be talking about the playoffs,'' Brien said. ``But it puts us in the right direction.''

Green and White Report Top Stories