A Tale of Two Halves

At halftime the Jets were up 21-6 and feeling great. 30 minutes later they were staring at a 24-21 defeat and a 2-5 record.

If the Jets only had to play the first half of football games, they might be pretty good. The first half scores were close against New England and Miami, and the Jets led against Kansas City and led big against Cleveland. They lost all four of those games, and continue to have disastrous third quarter performances.


The Browns scored two touchdowns and converted a two-point conversion to bring themselves out of a 15-point halftime hole. They kicked the winning field goal with 3:30 remaining in the game. The Jets couldn't muster anything offensively, and let the Browns drive downfield at will. The players admitted to being lethargic and complacent in the second half.


"I don't think we had the same intensity as when we started," said Sam Garnes. "You've got to play the whole game like that."


"It was just a tale of two games," Donnie Abraham said. "In the first half we pretty much had the game in control. In the second half, the momentum switched, and we really couldn't stop them [and] couldn't stop the bleeding."


Despite a big halftime lead, Herman Edwards wasn't entirely pleased with how his team played, and let them know it. He tried to put a spark in them to play better in the second half. His players did not respond.


"I reminded them at half time that we left points on the field, and I was not happy with how we played in the first half," said Edwards. "[But] we self-destructed in the second half. When you get penalties and turn the ball over three times, and do not cause any turnovers, it's tough to win even when you have a lead."


The Jets' turnovers were devastating. J.P. Machado was beat by DT Gerard Warren, who sacked Chad Pennington in the act of throwing. The ball popped up in the air and was intercepted by DE Courtney Brown on the Jets 12-yard line. The most unlikely turnover came from Wayne Chrebet, who caught a pass on the Brown's five-yard line before getting hit and coughing it up. Chrebet's last fumble: December of 1996, 323 catches ago.  Ray Mickens intercepted a pass from Tim Couch and streaked down the sideline for a touchdown. The play was negated by a John Abraham offside penalty. It was that kind of day for the Jets.  


"There's no excuse," said Curtis Martin. "I don't know what to call it. I don't have the proper adjective to give to it, but we didn't do what we did in the first half, and I don't know how to describe it."


What the Jets did do in the first half, despite a few missed opportunities, was drive the ball downfield and put up 21 points. Chad Pennington was nine for 10 for 122 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He was nine for 15 for 61 yards after that. In the third quarter, the Jets threw for eight yards and ran for just six. They went three-and-out or turned the ball over on ever offensive possession. The defense couldn't stop Couch and Cleveland's short passing attack.


"We didn't have that killer instinct," said Abraham. "When you have someone 21-6, you have to put them away. You can't give someone a game like that."


The Jets could not afford to give that one away. They drop to 2-5 and head out to San Diego next week.

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