Last night the New York Jets did what they haven't been able to do in over 20 years - they won a playoff game on the road. PK Doug Brien kicked a 28-yard field goal with 5 seconds left in overtime to propel the Jets to the next round where they will face the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Gang Green started the game with a promising drive, as QB Chad Pennington connected with WRs Santana Moss and Justin McCareins to move inside field goal range. However, Brien's 33-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right, leaving both teams scoreless five minutes in the first quarter. The Jets got the ball back just two minutes later, this time on their own 11-yard line. The Jets advanced inside San Diego's territory only to get stopped again when TE Chris Baker was tackled way short of the first down on a 3rd and 6. The ensuing Gowin's punt pinned the Chargers inside their own 20-yard line. San Diego responded with a 13-play drive that went for 88 yards, as QB Drew Brees threw a perfect touchdown pass to WR Keenan McCardell. The play was initially ruled incomplete, but Schottenheimer challenged and it was overturned on replay, 7-0. Four minutes later, following two empty possessions by both teams, the Jets took over inside San Diego's territory, as the Chargers got penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on a punt return. On a 3rd and 9 Pennington connected with Justin McCareins for a gain of 21, moving the Jets inside the Chargers' 20-yard line. Two plays later Pennington found wide open TE Anthony Becht who went untouched into the end zone, 7-7. Less than two minutes later S Reggie Tongue intercepted Brees and returned the ball to close to midfield. There was still over a minute left in the 2nd quarter and it sure looked like the Jets had the momentum and an excellent chance to take the lead before the half ended. All these hopes were nullified by a pretty conservative playcalling, as RB Curtis Martin was stopped short of the first down on a 3rd and 2.
As the second half began, the Jets' defense quickly made the Chargers go three and out and just five plays later Penningon threw a 47-yard touchdown bomb to WR Santana Moss, 14-7. The Jets sustained another scoring drive late in the third quarter when Doug Brien converted a 42-yard field goal attempt, extending the lead to 17-7. San Diego responded with their own field goal early in the fourth quarter, 17-10. There was still over 10 minutes left in the quarter but instead of going after the shaky Chargers secondary, the Jets decided to play it safe, taking around six minutes off the game clock. The drive stalled on the Chargers' 33-yard line, Gowin's punt resulted in a touchback, leaving the Chargers with five minutes and 80 yards from tying the game. The culminating moment came with just 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter when San Diego faced a do or die 4th down on the Jets' 2-yard line. Drew Brees threw a desperation pass that was batted down in the end zone, but LB Eric Barton was flagged for a personal foul for hitting Brees on the helmet with his right forearm. It was just like 1986 all over again, especially considering that just like in the 1986 Cleveland game Marty Schottenheimer was on the other sideline. The Chargers got a first down on the Jets' 1-yard line and on the very next play Brees connected with TE Antonio Gates to force overtime.
The Jets' defense once again came up big on the first Chargers' overtime possession, as 2 of 3 Brees' passes were incomplete and San Diego was forced to punt from their own 35-yard line. The Jets' offense, however, quickly returned the favor when they did not gain any yards at all and had to punt from their own 26-yard line. The Chargers took over on their 30 and six plays later were already inside the Jets' territory. Then it was exclusively Brees to Tomlinson from there on, as San Diego moved inside the Jets' 25 and well into field goal range. Luckily for the Jets, Nate Kaeding's 40-yard field goal attempt went wide right, giving the Gang Green a new hope. The Jets took over on their own 30 and just two plays later they found themselves inside the Chargers' territory when Pennington connected with Santana Moss on an 18-yard pass. Two plays later Pennington hit Justin McCareins for another 1st down completion. Then, RB LaMont Jordan rumbled for 19 yards along the left sideline, as the Jets moved to San Diego's 15-yard line. Three plays later Brien kicked the game-winning field goal and the underdog New York Jets advanced to the next round.
QB Chad Pennington finished the game 23 out of 33, 279 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT. His quarterback rating was an impressive 115.6. WR Justin McCareins led the team with 8 receptions for 87 yards. WR Santana Moss made 4 catches for 100 yards, including the 47-yard TD reception. RB Curtis Martin had a relatively quiet game - just 66 yards on 18 carries and 47 yards on 4 receptions. RB LaMont Jordan added 50 yards on just 7 carries.
Defensive Rookie of the Year MLB Jonathan Vilma led the defense with 13 tackles (8 solo) and 1.0 sack. LB Eric Barton recorded 11 tackles (9 solo). Rookie S Erik Coleman had 9 tackles (7 solo) and one pass defense.
Next Saturday the Gang Green will take on the AFC favorite Pittsburgh Steelers (15-1). The Jets have never won in Pittsburgh and are already listed as 9-point underdogs. The kickoff time is at 4:30 PM EST.