Jets lose in Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif. - Chad Pennington and the Jets have been saying for two months they want to make history. They almost wrote their biggest chapter yet on Monday Night Football, but they ultimately succumbed to a third-quarter one-two punch thrown right out of the Black Hole.

Pennington hit Wayne Chrebet with a 13-yard touchdown strike with 5:32 to play, then furiously but futilely tried to lead the Jets down field on a game-winning touchdown drive in the final 1:06. But Pennington's last-second pass from the Oakland 46 was intercepted by Rod Woodson at the 9 as the Raiders held on for the 26-20 victory.

``We're by no means out of this,'' Pennington said after completing 22 of 34 passes for 265 yards. ``We won four in a row. We know how to do it. Now we've got to do it again.''

The loss ended that four-game winning streak, all under Pennington's hand. It dropped their record to 6-6 and prevented them from climbing into a first-place tie with Miami and New England atop the AFC East. And it took some momentum out of their bid to run the table and make it all the way back from their 1-4 start to a playoff berth.

The game could come back to haunt the Jets big-time, since the Raiders, 8-4 and on a four-game win streak of their own, now hold a wild-card tiebreaker over the Jets.

``We're just like a lot of other teams right now,'' safety Sam Garnes said. ``We had a chance to separate from those teams, but now we're still in the middle of the pack and time is getting short.''

The first punch the Raiders connected on was thrown by the ageless duo of Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, who made some more history of their own. Then the Jets' special teams, dynamic in the first half, took a turn for the worse.

The two third-quarter touchdowns that resulted enabled the Raiders to lead by 20-10 to withstand the Jets' late rally. The visitors overcame a slow start in which Curtis Martin couldn't run - he got only 26 of the 38 yards he needed to get to 10,000 for his career - and the offense couldn't move to take a 10-6 lead at halftime. All those points came in the final two minutes of the half on Pennington's pass to Jerald Sowell and John Hall's field goal. But the Raiders took the game back in their notorious home with stunning effect. First came Brown and Rice. Brown, 36 and in his 15th season with the Raiders, needed four passes to become only the third 1,000-catch receiver in NFL history. He got No. 4 on the opening drive of the third quarter, a 6-yarder from Rich Gannon to the Jets 26.

After a three-minute stoppage to celebrate Brown's achievement, the ageless Rice, 40, stepped up with a 26-yard touchdown catch from Gannon reminiscent of last season's Jets playoff loss. Rice was turned loose on a crossing route and easily beat rookie safety Jon McGraw to the end zone. The catch was the 1,440th of Rice's career and the yardage lifted him to 1,000 receving yards for the 14th time in his career.

Most important, the TD put the Raiders back in control at 13-10.Almost 8 1/2 minutes later, the Jets' special problems reared up. Santana Moss was out of the game with a sprained ankle suffered at the end of a 28-yard punt return. Chad Morton, making his first return of the night, was immediately blasted by Marcus Knight and lost the ball, with Adam Treu  recovering at the Jets 12.

``It was a really short punt,'' Morton said. ``I tried to catch it and go, but (Knight) made a good play. He probably just hit the ball right when I caught it. I'm not happy about it, but there's nothing I can do now.''

Four plays after the Jets' first fumble of any kind in five games, Zack Crockett burrowed over the goal line from a yard out and the Raiders were up, 20-13.

The teams traded fourth-quarter field goals. Then the Jets sliced their deficit to 23-20 when Pennington, passing on every down, dropped a pass over safety Rod Woodson to Chrebet for a 13-yard score with 5:32 to play. But Gannon, who ended up 32-for-43 for 351 passing yards, led the Raiders back down the field to Sebastian Janikowski's fourth field goal and then the Raiders weather the Jets' last best shot. Laveranues Coles caught two passes on that last possession, giving him career highs with 10 catches for 158 yards.

The Jets were upset with the actual shots that the Raiders were throwing at them all game long.

``The referees let them get away with murder,'' defensive tackle Josh Evans said. ``You could be five yards away from the play and those cats are diving at your knees. We all got families, man. Then they let them hold you, and one of their guys, (guard Frank) Middleton, took a swing at one of our DBs.''

That DB was Garnes.

``The ref was right there, he saw it, and he didn't say anything,'' Garnes said. ``Then I asked him about it and he told me, `He missed.' I guess I'll start swinging at people and as long as I miss, it's OK.''

But the Jets defenders, who gave up 411 yards and allowed Gannon to convert six third-down passes, had to give the Silver and Black their due.

``Some of the stuff they were getting away with was crazy,'' Evans said. ``But they beat us true enough.''

Now the Jets have to regroup for their final four games.

``We turned the ball over one time and it was critical and it bit us,'' coach Herman Edwards said. ``We just have to keep going and focus on Denver.''

 

 


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