Turnovers Doom Jets In Loss To Falcons
Facing a pivotal game in their season, the Jets couldn't overcome four turnovers in a 27-14 loss at Atlanta (5-2) Monday night. In a sloppily played game which had a combined seven turnovers, Gang Green got off to a miserable start, due in large part to Vinny Testaverde losing the football three times.
The first miscue came on the second play in the Jets' opening series. At their own 19, Testaverde couldn't handle converted center Pete Kendall's snap, leading to a Bryan Scott recovery at the 20. Kendall, shifted over from guard to replace six-time Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae, who was lost for the season with a torn triceps suffered last week at Buffalo.
Michael Vick took advantage with a QB sneak from a yard out to give Atlanta a 7-0 lead. It was the first of two TD runs for the former Virginia Tech product.
It wouldn't get any better for Testaverde on the next possession. With the ball near midfield, Antwan Lake sacked him and the 41-year-old vet lost the ball before his knee touched the ground. Patrick Kerney scooped it up and returned it to the Jets 26, setting up a 22-yard Todd Peterson field goal which increased Atlanta's lead to 10-0.
After both offenses failed to get anything done on their next possessions, lightning struck for the third time for Testaverde early in the second quarter. This time, Rod Coleman came in untouched, leveling the shell shocked QB for a third muff, leading to Chauncey Davis' 24-yard return for a score, making it 17-0.
The Falcons would increase their lead to 20 on their next possession. After forcing a three-and-out, they drove to the Jets 23 on the strength of a Warrick Dunn 65-yard run. Dunn finished with 155 rushing yards on 24 carries. A Peterson 41-yard kick gave them a 20-0 lead with just over seven minutes left in the half.
Finally, the Jets showed some signs of life on their next drive. After having a Justin Miller kickoff return for a TD wiped out due to a Kenyatta Wright illegal block penalty, Testaverde led them down the field in just eight plays for a much needed score. He was three-for-four on the drive, finishing it by calling his own number from a yard out to make it 20-7 with 3:36 left.
That's when the game got a little crazy. After forcing Atlanta three-and-out on the strength of John Abraham's second sack of the night, the Jets got the ball back with 1:46 left and one timeout. A key Testaverde pass to Wayne Chrebet, which was originally ruled a completion was reversed by the officials' review with under two minutes in the half. For New York, it was a big call because it would have meant a first down near midfield. Unfortunately for coach Herman Edwards, it cost them their final timeout of the half.
It would prove to be huge when Jonathan Vilma intercepted Vick to get the ball back with 45 ticks left. Testaverde completed a pass near the sideline to Coles but unbelievably, they didn't get another play off due to confusion on whether Coles was out of bounds.
In the second half, the Falcons took control when Vick ran in from one-yard, beating the Jets D inside the right hash on a critical fourth-and-goal situation for a 27-7 lead. On the drive, Dunn gashed the Jets for 30 yards on the ground.
When DeAngelo Hall picked off Testaverde six plays later, the game looked over. But the Jets D gave their offense a spark when Ty Law intercepted Vick at the Atlanta 35. They held Vick to 134 total yards and a career worst QB rating of 16.3.
With Testaverde knocked out of the game to a right Achilles' injury, Brooks Bollinger led Gang Green on their second scoring drive of the night, resulting in a Curtis Martin one-yard run to put them within 27-14 with under 12:00 left in regulation. Martin was limited to just 28 rushing yards on 14 carries.
The Jets came up with their third pick of Vick when David Barrett Int'd him at the Jets 26. Bollinger then had his best series of the season, directing the Jets all the way to the Atlanta 11. But on a drive where he completed eight passes, it stalled when Bollinger misfired on fourth-and-one, handing Atlanta the ball back with 3:39 remaining. Dunn and Vick ran the clock out.
Notes: Linebacker Eric Barton was the latest Jet to be lost for the season when he tore his left triceps...In relief of Testaverde, Bollinger was 12-of-20 for 94 yards and was sacked twice....Jets (2-5) have a bye before hosting San Diego (3-4) on November 6th.