Jets remain unbeaten

EAST RUTHERFORD - Before he answered questions after the Jets' 22-14 win over San Francisco, tight end Anthony Becht had something to say. <BR><BR> "I just have to give a shout out," the tight end said, "to the defense."

Thanks anyway, Anthony, but they really don't need it, not after the one they received in the second quarter.

Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson left his usual spot in the coaches' booth and went down to the sideline after the Jets had surrendered their second long touchdown drive to San Francisco in as many possessions. "He didn't come down," linebacker Victor Hobson said, "to say how well we were doing, that's for sure."

It wasn't the only oratory delivered on Sunday.

Quarterback Chad Pennington also had some strong words at halftime concerning the Jets' equally lackluster offense. And by the end of the game, the Jets had plenty to talk about. Their comeback victory over the 49ers Sunday at Giants Stadium gave them the first 5-0 start in the 45-year existence of the franchise.

"We're a part of history," defensive end/linebacker John Abraham said. "Twenty years from now, people may not know who played for this team, but they'll know we were 5-0."

But for the first three quarters, it appeared the Jets were on their way to making more negative history, as the second Jets' team in five seasons to blow a 4-0 start with an upset loss at home. The 2000 team lost to Pittsburgh to fall to 4-1 and finished at 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Of the 13 teams that have started off at least 5-0 since 1994, only one missed the post-season. That was Minnesota in 2003.

But with history staring the Jets in the face, a banged-up San Francisco team came out aggressively on both offense and defense. The 49ers (1-5) pressured Pennington, who was operating behind an injury-plagued line with two substitute starters. On offense, quarterback Tim Rattay used three-step drops to beat the Jets' blitzes, and racked up 185 yards passing by the middle of the second quarter. He directed scoring drives of 78 and 88 yards as the 49ers opened a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.

This was unusual because the struggling 49ers had been outscored by 45 points in the first quarter of their first five games. The first touchdown drive ended with a 33-yard pass from Rattay to Brandon Lloyd, and the second march was keyed by a 65-yard pass from Rattay to Arnaz Battle. On both big plays, Rattay beat blitzes. The 65-yarder set up Kevan Barlow's 2-yard touchdown run on the next play.

That's when Henderson made his move-literally.

"He called me," coach Herman Edwards recalled, "and said, 'Coach, is it time?' I said, 'It's time. Just don't jump. Catch the elevator.'"

The first-year coordinator is an in-your-face instructor during practice, but prefers the view from up top during games, which usually limits his contact with the players. But he felt he had no choice.

Linebacker Eric Barton remembered his reaction. It was, "Who the hell let him down here?"

"We were out of sync," Henderson explained. "That's why I came down. If I have to come out [of] the booth they know why. There's something wrong."

The Jets allowed only 161 yards of offense and no points after his lecture. They went to halftime trailing 14-3, and then it was Pennington's turn to talk.

"That's the maddest I've ever seen Chad," running back Curtis Martin said.

"It wasn't about our offensive plays," Pennington said. "It wasn't about making yardage. It was about looking each other in the eye and having a gut-check within. It's about us looking at each other in the huddle with that focus and fire, playing with that passion."

"I saw a different side of him today," first-year Jet Justin McCareins said of Pennington. "He raised his voice a little, but I think that's what we needed."

They all raised their games in the second half. But a contribution from almost-forgotten backup running back LaMont Jordan keyed the first touchdown drive. He caught a pass in the left flat on third-and-5 and stretched for a 6-yard gain and a big first down at the San Francisco 25. Two plays later, he swept right for a 17-yard touchdown.

Jordan had only one carry through four games and had been in Edwards' doghouse for not reporting in shape to training camp.

"After everything that happened in the off-season," Jordan said, "to finally get out there and actually help my team get the win, it's a great feeling."

A two-point conversion run by Jordan failed, and the Jets trailed 14-9 with 3:15 left in the third quarter.

On their next drive, the Jets moved 70 yards in eight plays to score on Curtis Martin's 1-yard run. A two-point pass failed, leaving the Jets with a precarious 15-14 lead with 11:41 to go.

The 49ers reached the Jets' 27 in the fourth quarter, but a botched handoff between Rattay and Battle on an ill-advised end-around resulted in an 8-yard loss, and then Lloyd ducked his head as Rattay's pass over the middle sailed behind him incomplete. The 49ers chose to punt from the 35.

On their next possession, Rattay was trying to throw the ball away, but instead it went right into the hands of rookie linebacker Jonathan Vilma for his first NFL interception. That set up Martin's second score, a 9-yard run with 32 seconds left.

The Jets forced a turnover on a desperation lateral by the 49ers on the final play, and a long day of talk-and plenty of action-was over.

Pennington said that he, Henderson and Edwards will continue to be vocal. "We need to pick it up when we need a little energy, and it has to come from us. Kind of like a three-headed monster."

Just the thing you need to survive in the NFL.

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