At any rate, the reeling Jets got better in a hurry with a 44-13 rout Sunday of the AFC-leading Chargers, who came dressed in their powder-blue throwback jerseys and left looking like powderpuffs after getting worked over all afternoon.
|Chad Pennington jaunts into the end zone to score the first of five Jets TDs. (AP)|
"Just getting a win was good for us, just to put a lot of negatives behind us," Abraham said. "We're trying to build a season now. A lot of people put us in the dirt right now. We know we're a better team than we've shown."
Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin and Santana Moss provided the big scoring plays early. With LaMont Jordan's 61-yard touchdown run with 1:49 left, the Jets scored their most points since a 48-21 win over Carolina on Nov. 29, 1998.
The Chargers (6-2), who came in tied with Green Bay for the NFL's best record, never were in this game, despite coming off a bye week that allowed players like Junior Seau and Marcellus Wiley to get healthy.
"We didn't come out here ready to play," said LaDainian Tomlinson, the NFL's third-leading running back who was held to just 60 yards on 12 carries. "We took these guys for granted."
That didn't sit well with coach Marty Schottenheimer, who admitted neither he nor the players did a good job of preparing.
"The performance we put on today was unacceptable," Schottenheimer said. "I didn't get the message across, but I made it very clear throughout the week that this was a very formidable football team."
Chargers strong safety Rodney Harrison served a one-game suspension, without pay, for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Oakland's Jerry Rice two weeks ago, and San Diego's pass coverage was leaky.
Pennington threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and Moss had a 52-yard punt return for a touchdown, his second in as many weeks as the Jets built a 21-0 lead. Martin scored once.
Linebacker James Darling intercepted Drew Brees and returned it 38 yards to set up John Hall's 24-yard field goal for a 31-7 halftime lead, and recovered rookie Reche Caldwell's fumble on a kickoff return in the third quarter.
New York went up 34-7 following Hall's 32-yard field goal midway through the third quarter.
"We were able to take the action to them and put them back on their heels," Pennington said. "I don't think they were as flat as maybe surprised a little bit."
The Chargers were booed at home for the first time this year. It was their worst defeat since a 42-10 loss at Kansas City on Sept. 17, 2000, and the most points allowed since a 45-17 loss to San Francisco on Dec. 3, 2000. The Chargers were 1-15 that season.
Even last year, when they were 5-11, the Chargers never lost by more than 10 points.
"We played probably the worst that we could possibly play and they came out and played very, very well," Brees said.
Pennington killed the Chargers with dumpoff passes to running backs Richie Anderson, Martin and Jordan. He completed 28 of 37 passes for 253 yards.
The Jets scored twice in less than two minutes late in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead. Pennington capped a 91-yard drive by scoring on an 8-yard run, his first in the NFL, after the middle opened up.
"That was just reaction," Pennington said. "We've got to have the mentality of whatever it takes to win games. We don't really care how we do it, just as long as we do it."
The Chargers went three-and-out and had to punt, with Moss returning it 11 yards. But Carlos Polk was called for illegal use of the hands, and Darren Bennett punted again. This time, Moss went 52 yards for the score. Four Chargers missed him at midfield, and Damien Robinson took out Bennett at the 30.
Pennington hit Anthony Becht on a 1-yard scoring pass before Brees threw a 13-yard TD pass to Curtis Conway to close to 21-7.
Martin scored on a 17-yard run with 57 seconds left before halftime, and Hall added a 24-yard field goal.
Brees was 22-of-35 for 192 yards, with one TD and two interceptions.
- The Jets have returned punts for touchdowns in consecutive weeks for the first time.
- Chargers DT Jason Fisk and OT Damion McIntosh both sprained their right ankles.
- San Diego's Wade Richey had one kickoff go out of bounds, giving the Jets the ball at their 40, and later botched an onside kick attempt, drawing a 5-yard penalty.
The Associated Press News Service
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