The New York Jets kept their Wild Card hopes alive, as they defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 26-13. Despite an early turnover that led to a Minnesota touchdown, the Gang Green''s offense and aggressive defense were just too much for the Vikings to overcome.
Minnesota came out looking for blood and on the second play from scrimmage they sacked QB Chad Pennington, causing a fumble. Following the fumble recovery, the Vikings quickly capitalized, taking a 7-0 lead just 2 minutes into the game. The Jets, however, weren''t the team we saw last week against the Bills. They instantly responded with a 12-play drive that culminated in a 6-yard TD run by RB Cedric Houston, 7-7. On the next Jets'' possession Pennington rapidly put the Gang Green in field goal range when he connected with WR Justin McCareins on a 50-yard bomb. Unfortunately, the drive got stalled three plays later and New York had to settle for a field goal. P Ben Graham mishandled the field goal snap, leaving the score at 7-7.
PK Mike Nugent was given another field goal attempt early in the second quarter and converted a 25-yarder, 10-7. Later in the quarter Pennington connected with his favorite target, WR Laveranues Coles, on a 21-yard touchdown pass, increasing the lead to 17-7. Less than two minutes later RB Leon Washington put the Gang Green back in the scoring range when he returned a punt for 38 yards and inside Minnesota''s territory. Nugent converted a 52-yarder, as the score became 20-7. He scored another field goal three minutes later - 23-7 at halftime.
The defense quickly got the ball back in the second half and then the offense took almost eight minutes off the game clock, but once again had to settle for another field goal, 26-7. The teams exchanged empty possessions in the third quarter before the Vikings made a change at QB right before the start of the final period.
The quarterback change paid off and the Vikings cut the Jets'' lead to 26-13. The Gang Green recovered the ensuing onside kick, but three plays later Chad Pennington''s pass was picked off (his 7th interception in the last 5 games) on the Vikings'' 19-yard line. Minnesota tried to make an improbable comeback but their attempt was stopped short when CB David Barrett made an end zone interception with two minutes remaining on the game clock.
B Chad Pennington had a career high 339 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT. RB Cedric Houston gained 53 yards on 21 carries, 1 TD against the best rushing defense in the NFL. WR Laveranues Coles had career high 12 receptions for 144 yards, 1 TD.
LB Victor Hobson led the defense with 8 solo tackles and 1 sack. DT Dewayne Robertson had a great game as well – 6 tackles (4 solo). LB Eric Barton and DT C.J. Mosley both registered a sack apiece.
The Jets will travel to Miami on the Christmas night to take on the Dolphins (6-8). The kickoff is at 8:30 PM ET.