Rattay passed for 103 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, and hooked up with wide receiver Arnaz Battle on a 65-yard play to set up another score that gave the underdog 49ers a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
At that point, Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, seated high above the field in the coaches box, phoned head coach Herman Edwards.
"[Henderson] said, ‘Coach, is it time?' I said, ‘It's time,'" Edwards recalled. "I said, ‘make sure you don't jump down – catch the elevator.'"
The emotional and animated Henderson joined the Jets on the sidelines and, in no uncertain terms, let his defense know they had to greatly step up their efforts. Following the fire-and-brimstone tongue-lashing and some adjustments made at halftime, the defense responded to the challenge -- shutting out the 49ers in the second half, while limiting Rattay to just 93 more yards through the air. The result was a 22-14 victory that drove Gang Green to their first-ever 5-0 mark.
"I thought the guys really responded to [Henderson]. He did a good job at halftime making adjustments and talking to the players," Edwards said.
"I just think we were a little…I wouldn't say embarrassed, we were just like a little lethargic."
Jets safety Erik Coleman agreed with Edwards' assessment.
"I knew that the big plays [Rattay made] were mainly because of us," Coleman said. "We came out a little flat and made a couple of mental mistakes. But I knew what kind of defense we are."
Coleman said Henderson's angry face-to-face with the defense lit a much-needed fire.
"He's more of a loud – a vocal coach," Coleman said. "Instead of talking on the phone, he got [the defense] corrected right on the field. It brought a level of intensity when he came down there."
Trailing 14-3 at halftime, the Jets were a totally different team in the final 30 minutes. The defense stopped the 49ers' opening drive of the third quarter, keyed by Shaun Ellis and Jason Ferguson's sack of Rattay at the Jets' 46. The offense responded with a Chad Pennington-engineered 11-play, 91-yard drive, culminated by LaMont Jordan's 17-yard TD jaunt that closed the gap to 14-9.
The defense forced San Francisco to punt on its ensuing drive, and the Jets took a 15-14 lead on their next possession, marching 70 yards and hitting pay dirt on Curtis Martin's 1-yard run.
"We really have to give credit to our defense," tight end Anthony Becht noted. "They came up with some huge stops and really kept us alive. They made plays and got us fired up."
The defense helped seal the victory with 1:44 left, when rookie linebacker Jonathan Vilma intercepted a poorly thrown Rattay swing pass to fullback Terry Jackson at the San Francisco 34 and returned it to the 20. The theft led to Martin's game-clinching 9-yard TD run.
Rattay completed 11 of 16 throws for an eye-opening 193 yards in the first half. And the Jets looked to be in deep trouble.
"We just needed to settle down," linebacker Victor Hobson said of the second-half turnaround. "When [Henderson] came down [to the sideline], he got on top of us and made everybody accountable for their mistakes. We settled down, and everything fell into place."
Jets comeback to beat 49ers
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