It was around midnight Monday when Vinny Testaverde perhaps got his final moment in the sun.
As coach Herm Edwards had promised, Testaverde, who lost his starting job to Brooks Bollinger in November, got another chance at game action and made the most of it. He threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles with 2:10 left for a consolation score in the Jets' 31-21 loss to New England.
"Putting (the result of) the game aside, it felt good to get back in there," Testaverde said. "It will probably be the last action I see, barring injury to Brooks (Bollinger) next week, but it felt good to get in there and throw a touchdown and get that monkey off my back."
Edwards said, "Brooksie will start next week, obviously. But I think Vinny appreciated us getting him in."
In his second tour of duty with the Jets, Testaverde had six interceptions and no touchdown passes entering the game. But he ended his personal drought with a go route to Coles, who made a nifty leaping catch over strong safety Artrell Hawkins. Testaverde was 3-for-7 for 63 yards on the 58-yard drive, which included a false start penalty on the Jets.
Yet even Edwards admitted the Patriots weren't displaying the same kind of defense they had against Brooks Bollinger, whom they had blitzed and harassed into four sacks one week after he had been dropped six times by the Dolphins' pass rush.
Testaverde "made the throws," Edwards said, "but they were playing zone. They didn't bring any pressure."
Perhaps New England coach Bill Belichick, who was Bill Parcells' right-hand man for two years during Testaverde's first go-round with the Jets, was doing the football equivalent of 31-game winner Denny McLain, who grooved a fastball to the soon-to-be-retired Mickey Mantle late in the 1968 baseball season with Detroit holding a comfortable lead. Mantle hit a solo homer.
Had the Jets recovered the ensuing onsides kickoff, New England likely would have changed from its vanilla look on defense. Still, the touchdown allowed Testaverde to become the first NFL player to throw a touchdown pass in 19 straight seasons.
"It doesn't mean as much to me," Testaverde said, "as you might think it would." However, he indicated that the record might mean more to him years from now when he looks back at his career.
--Back when he was in New England, cornerback Ty Law often would go against the first-string offense in practice. So maybe that's why he did such an excellent job of anticipating Tom Brady's first-quarter sideline pass intended for David Givens. Law jumped the route, made the interception, and sailed 74 yards to a vindicating touchdown against the team that failed to re-sign him after he suffered a major foot injury last season.
Only problem is that Law claimed it wasn't vindication.
"They're a football team," he said of the Patriots. "I approach them the same way I approach everybody else. I don't put any extra emphasis because they are the New England Patriots. I've been there for a long time, so I don't have to show them anything."
Still, perhaps the Patriots will change their minds about Law in the offseason, now that their secondary once again has been hit by a wave of injuries, similar to what happened in the 2004 season. Although Law continued to say that speculation about his future is premature, the cap-strapped Jets likely will not be able to fit him into their 2006 plans.
"I'm very disappointed the season didn't turn out the way we all anticipated," he said. "It's kind of bittersweet, but for the most part, I'm happy to (be able to) continue my career."
--Quarterback Brooks Bollinger had a better game than his first one against New England, but still not good enough for a victory. After a 15-for-37, one-interception performance in a 16-3 loss to the Patriots on Dec. 4, he was 11-for-19 for 100 yards with one touchdown and one interception Monday night. He was sacked four times after being dropped twice during the first meeting between the teams.
"I'm disappointed in the way I played," said Bollinger, who dropped to 1-7 as a starter. "I just have to find a way to make some plays. You expect the unexpected (from New England's defense). They just played good defense. They're going to show you some different looks here and there but they just played better than we did."
He was particularly dismayed with his first-half performance, when the Jets didn't manage a first down.
"It's frustrating," he said. "It's a snowball effect. You try to make a play here, a play there, to get some momentum going and take it from there."