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In likely Jet finale, Chad Pennington sacked six times in loss at Titans

BY RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Monday, December 24th 2007, 4:00 AM

NASHVILLE - Chad Pennington was in the midst of the worst beating of his career when, after yet another drive-killing sack, he was greeted by a concerned teammate upon reaching the Jets' sideline.

"How ya feeling?" asked injured wide receiver Laveranues Coles, who watched the 60-minute mugging in a sweatsuit.

"I feel great," said Pennington, doing a Tony the Tiger impersonation.

Save for the outcome, a 10-6 loss to the Titans Sunday, Pennington was happy to be a starting quarterback again, albeit temporarily. The game was billed as his last stand; too bad he spent much of it on his back. He was sacked a career-high six times behind a musical-chairs offensive line, but Pennington walked away with a wistful smile, knowing a chapter in his career may have ended.

"It was bittersweet," said Pennington, describing his emotions as he left the field after yet another meek performance by the Jets' offense, which was held to single digits for the fourth time this season.

Indeed, an era could be ending for the Jets. Pennington and Coles, the heart and soul of the team, may not be back in 2008.

Pennington, who made his first start since Oct. 28, will head back to the bench if Kellen Clemens (rib and left shoulder) is healthy enough to start the season finale against Herm Edwards' Chiefs. Clemens was the No. 2 quarterback yesterday, an indication that he will be ready.

Coles, who was placed on injured reserve Saturday with a high-ankle sprain, addressed his future after the game, confirming reports that his return isn't a slam dunk. Coles, signed through 2009, indicated his contract is an issue, hinting it will have to be renegotiated for him to return. He didn't say if he wants a raise (he's due to make $5 million in 2008) or whether the team wants to cut his pay.

"They have their opinion, I have mine and I'm sure both sides will have their arguments," said Coles, promising that he won't let it get ugly, a la Pete Kendall. "I feel strongly that this is something we'll get done."

Coles said he met last week with Eric Mangini, who told the veteran receiver that he wants him back. Coles said Mangini's words "meant a lot to me, because Coach doesn't really step out of his circle too much to let you know he's in your corner."

No fan of Mangini's demanding program, Coles could be looking for a way out. The contract issue could be his leverage. It's going to be a fascinating offseason for the Jets (3-12), who need help in so many areas.

(Page 2 of 2)

"Another tough one," said Mangini, who has run out of explanations.

"The frustration is crazy," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said.

"The defense is playing great, the offense is playing terrible," tight end Chris Baker said.

Actually, the Jets moved the ball reasonably well against the Titans (9-6), who can clinch a wild-card berth with a win over the Colts on Sunday, but they made ill-timed mistakes, as usual. Playing the way he did before he was benched in favor of the inexperienced Clemens, Pennington (26-for-32, 264 yards) was efficient, but he threw killer interceptions.

Underthrowing Cotchery (eight catches for 152 yards) on a deep fade, Pennington was intercepted by Reynaldo Hill at the Jets' 40, setting up the Titans' only touchdown - a 4-yard run by Chris Brown in the second quarter. Later in the half, Pennington was picked off in the end zone by linebacker Keith Bulluck. There went the Jets' best scoring opportunity.

"I'd like to have two throws back," said Pennington, whose finest moments were a 9-yard touchdown strike to Cotchery and a 48-yard post to Cotchery. "Other than that, I felt really good about everything."

Mangini was in an experimental mode, and Pennington was the guinea pig. The Jets used eight linemen, with rookies Robert Turner and Clint Oldenburg coming off the bench to make their NFL debuts at left guard and right tackle, respectively. They also had a new left guard, with Will Montgomery replacing the beleaguered Adrien Clarke (inactive). Wade Smith spelled right guard Brandon Moore, who was banished to the bench for a series after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Basically, the line was a mess, and it had to face a pair of Pro Bowlers, Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch (three sacks). It conjured up memories of 1995, when Rich Kotite used an unproven left tackle, Everett McIver, against Bills great Bruce Smith - and Boomer Esiason suffered a major concussion.

A few veterans rolled their eyes when asked about the unusual lineups changes.

"It's tough," Baker said, shaking his head. "I'll leave it at that."

Pennington didn't complain. The Titans kicked his butt, not his class.

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Chad Pennington takes hits as Jets throw in towel vs. Titans

Monday, December 24th 2007, 4:00 AM

NASHVILLE - Not much had changed with the Jets' offense since the last time that Chad Pennington lined up under center as Gang Green's starting quarterback.

Pennington found the same anemic rushing attack, the same leaky offensive line (maybe worse because of all the unproven players), the same untimely penalties and turnovers that paved the way for his spot on the bench two months ago. And the ultimate reminder came at the end, with the Jets'12th loss of the season, a sloppy 10-6 affair Sunday.

Pennington was back at the helm because Kellen Clemens was sidelined with injured ribs. The QB had been shown a seat on the bench because Jets bosses believed Clemens was the future. In six starts, Clemens hasn't proven them right. It is an experiment that will need some more time in the lab. Perhaps another season.

Pennington still harbors the desire to be a starter somewhere.

Jets coach Eric Mangini held auditions for "The Not Ready for Prime Time" players on the offensive line, inserting Robert Turner at left guard and Clint Oldenburg at right tackle and giving Will Montgomery his first start at left guard. It was the first time Turner and Oldenburg had seen live action this year.

With Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth anchoring Tennessee's defensive front, Pennington was sold out by Mangini again. Daniel had better odds before getting thrown into the lions' den.

Pennington, sacked a career-high six times, should have been given a dozen standing eight counts for as many times as he was knocked to the deck.

But the eight-year veteran was chipper at the postgame news conference.

"I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. I wish I had two throws back," Pennington said of his two interceptions - one in the end zone with the Jets in the red zone.

It was a bittersweet afternoon.

"Sure, walking off the field I took a big deep breath. It's nice to be home, close to my home (town). So it was bittersweet, coming off the field with a loss," Pennington said. "Not being in there for a while and not being the starter for a few weeks it felt good to be starting again and having an opportunity to lead my team."

Elwood Pennington, Pennington's father who was at the game yesterday, believes his son has gotten a raw deal this year and believes it's time to move on.

"Chad is not the future of the New York Jets," Elwood said in an interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel published Sunday. "That's just understandable. If he was, he would be starting and there would be no problem."

Elwood Pennington understands the Jets and Mangini's thinking, but he doesn't like where it has put his son.

"Chad doesn't fit into either's plans as far as the future is concerned. He's at the end of his career and he wants to be somewhere he can compete for the starting job, win games and maybe get to a Super Bowl," the elder Pennington said.

Pennington said he didn't feel like he had to use yesterday as an audition for another job.

"Whatever the perception is now, the film will reveal the reality later when teams do all their evaluations," he said.

Pennington said he understands that his benching was just the nature of NFL business and it wasn't personal.

So what was it when Mangini threw Pennington behind that makeshift offensive line against Tennessee's ferocious defensive front yesterday?

Just business, nothing personal, I'm sure.

tsmith@nydailynews.com

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No block party for Chad Pennington with young lineman

BY RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Monday, December 24th 2007, 4:00 AM

NASHVILLE - Eric Mangini, his team long since eliminated from playoff contention, decided to audition a couple of unproven offensive linemen Sunday against the Titans. The timing was peculiar, considering the Titans have a formidable front four that includes a two Pro Bowlers, DT Albert Haynesworth and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch.

The result: Pain.

With LG Robert Turner and RT Clint Oldenburg coming off the bench in their NFL debuts, Chad Pennington was sacked a career-high six times. Mangini also had a new starting left guard, elevating backup Will Montgomery to replace the embattled Adrien Clarke (inactive).

At times, it looked like a preseason game and the Jets lost, 10-6.

"I felt good about the plan," Mangini said. "You've got to play when you're on the active roster. There are always going to be some good pass rushers."

Turner and Oldenburg allowed one sack apiece. LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, RT Anthony Clement and TE Joe Kowalewski also allowed sacks. Vanden Bosch (three sacks) was a one-man wrecking crew.

Asked the shuffling disrupted the line's continuity, RG Brandon Moore said tersely, "I don't know. Ask Eric."

Pennington maintained a gallows humor.

"I couldn't image my first (game) being against Albert Haynesworth," said Pennington, laughing.

Pennington wasn't critical of the decision, but he said it reminded him of Vinny Testaverde about the time he started as a rookie against the 1985 Bears.

NUGENT'S WRONG NOTE: The Jets can't kick in the Music City. A Mike Nugent PAT was blocked by Antwan Odom, who knifed between Ferguson and Nick Mangold.

"We had a little leakage," Ferguson said.

Instead of 7-7, it was 7-6. That, of course, affected the Jets' strategy late in the game.

Nugent, who missed two FGs and a PAT here in the 2006 opener, also duck-hooked a 51-yard FG attempt. He was working with a new holder - P Jeremy Kapinos - but that wasn't a factor on either of his misses.

MOORE OR LESS: Moore wasn't happy about being removed by Mangini after his costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. He was flagged for a late hit on Vanden Bosch, who tackled Jerricho Cotchery out of bounds after a 41-yard reception.

"I was really upset," Moore said of Mangini's decision. "I didn't like it."

Moore said it was bogus call because Vanden Bosche "flopped on the ground and acted a little bit, I think. I wanted to let him know I was there and I didn't like (his hit on Cotchery)." ... Jerricho Cotchery finished with eight catches for 152 yards for his first 1,000-yard season of his career (1,054 yards). Thomas Jones (21 carries for 58 yards) became the fifth running back in team history to reach the 1,000-yard mark.

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TITAN-IC TORTURE

GANG GREEN FALLS SHORT IN TENNESSEE

By MARK CANNIZZARO

SACKED: Chad Pennington did all he could to boost the Jets' offense in his return to the starting lineup, but failed to produce enough points to pull past the Titans.

December 24, 2007 -- NASHVILLE - Some 30 minutes had passed after the Jets - in the same maddening manner - lost for the 12th time in 15 games this season, and while the players dressed quietly in the LP Stadium visitors locker room, alas, there was one player who found a ray of light shining on this dark season.

"The same things are happening to us every week," Jets tight end Chris Baker said, his voice dripping with disgust. "The only good thing about it is we've got one week left."

Indeed, the torture of this 2007 season will be complete when the Jets tie a bow on this stocking stuffed with coal in their season finale against Herman Edwards and the Chiefs Sunday at Giants Stadium.

For those Jets fans who tuned in to see their heroes play the Titans yesterday, you've seen this movie before.

The Jets played another close game, made killer mistakes when it counted most and came up just short of winning, losing 10-6 to the Titans.

There were many who believed the Jets had expended their final breath of energy trying to knock off the archrival Patriots last Sunday and would come into yesterday's game poised for a road whipping.

They, however, were true to their pattern this season, playing the Titans tough to the final gun only to walk off the field in disappointment.

The Jets, who Titans coach Jeff Fisher during the week called "the best 3-11 team I've ever seen," left Nashville as the best 3-12 team he's ever seen.

Yesterday was the Jets' seventh loss this season that's come by seven points or fewer.

"We keep answering the same questions and getting the same results and giving the same answers," RG Brandon Moore said.

"It is like a broken record," S Kerry Rhodes said.

"I've never been a part of anything like this before, especially as hard as we work and to keep coming up short is frustrating," Baker said.

Not even the presence of Chad Pennington, who started at quarterback for the injured Kellen Clemens, was enough to boost the Jets.

As usual, Pennington (26-32, 264 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) moved the Jets well between the 20-yard lines, but couldn't get them into the end zone enough.

He threw two killer INTs in the first half that haunted the Jets.

The first one, an attempted throw to Jerricho Cotchery in the first quarter, was underthrown and picked off by Titans CB Reynaldo Hill. That led to a four-yard TD run by Chris Brown and a 7-0 Titans' lead.

The Jets responded on the ensuing series, cutting the Tennessee lead to 7-6 on a nine-yard Pennington TD pass to Cotchery (8-152) with 10:59 remaining in the first half.

Mike Nugent's extra point attempt was blocked by Titans DE Antwan Odom.

The next crushing blow came when Pennington, trying to connect with Brad Smith, threw an INT right into the arms of Titans LB Keith Bulluck in the end zone with 1:53 remaining in the first half.

Pennington never saw Bulluck and it cost the Jets at least a field goal and the lead.

"We move the ball and get down to the red zone and can't score," Baker said. "We're not even getting three points, for the second week in a row, and when you do that, that's losing football."

The Jets had a great scoring chance before the end of the first half after LB David Harris sacked Vince Young and forced a fumble that was recovered by Dewayne Robertson.

But the Jets - surprise - failed to convert points off of that turnover when Nugent was way wide left on a 51-yard FG attempt.

The Titans took a 10-6 lead with 6:36 remaining in the third quarter on a 46-yard Rob Bironas FG.

The Jets offense, which has produced just three offensive TDs in the last three games, never got closer than the Tennessee 27-yard line the rest of the game.

"The whole year has been the same thing," Cotchery said. "We move the ball a lot and, in the end, we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We've been shooting ourselves in the foot all year. I didn't think we had any bullets left, but obviously we do.

"It's just disappointing."

Disappointing, but mercifully almost over.

mark.cannizzaro@nypost.com

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CHAD NOSTALGIC AFTER LOSS

By MARK CANNIZZARO

December 24, 2007 -- NASHVILLE - Chad Pennington conceded after yesterday's loss to the Titans that he experienced a personal moment of possible finality regarding his career with the Jets.

Pennington, who is due $4.8 million next season and counts $7.8 million on the salary cap, is realistic about the way the organization obviously feels about him - having benched him in favor of Kellen Clemens seven weeks ago.

He's spoken around his true feelings about his future with the team, but it's become clear he's ready to move on.

Coach Eric Mangini has made it clear that when Clemens, who was the No. 2 quarterback yesterday because of a rib injury, is healthy enough to play he will start.

That's why when yesterday's game was over the prospect of it being his last start as a Jet overwhelmed Pennington for a few moments.

"Walking off the field I took a big deep breath and looked around the stadium," Pennington said. "It was bittersweet. It felt good being starter again."

*

Jets RG Brandon Moore said he was upset to be pulled from the game for a series after he was called for a personal foul penalty for a late hit on Titans' DE Kyle Vanden Bosch.

Vanden Bosch appeared to hit Jets' WR Jerricho Cotchery when he was out of bounds after a 41-yard catch. Moore pushed him and was flagged. Eric Mangini yanked him from the game for the rest of the series.

"I barely touched the guy and he flopped on the ground," Moore said. "I didn't like what he did. I thought he hit Jerricho late."

Asked about his reaction to being benched for the rest of the series, Moore said, "I was real upset. We had a nice drive going and I was feeling good and was trying to be out there for my teammates."

*

The nation won't see the Jets play host to the Titans, because next Sunday's season finale between the Titans and Colts at Indianapolis has been moved to prime time with Tennessee in position to secure an AFC wild-card berth.

After Tennessee's 10-6 victory over the Jets, the NFL said it was switching Titans-Colts from 1 p.m. EST to 8:15 p.m. under the flexible schedule for late-season Sunday games. The originally scheduled Chiefs-Jets game moves to 4:15 p.m. EST.

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COLES LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT SEASON AND BEYOND

By MARK CANNIZZARO

December 24, 2007 -- NASHVILLE - On Saturday, the Jets placed receiver Laveranues Coles on injured reserve, ending his season because of his high left ankle sprain.

Yesterday, Coles watched his teammates lose for the 12th time in 15 games and afterward he revealed that he already has had some conversations with the Jets about renegotiating his contract into a long-term deal that'll keep him a Jet for the rest of his career.

"It's in the preliminary (stage)," Coles said. "I sat down and talked to coach (Eric Mangini) the other day and he expressed to me that I was very important to this team, that he was happy that I'm here and that he wanted me to be there with him.

"That was something that meant a lot to me as a player, because coach don't really step out of his circle too much to let you know that he's in your corner. That meant a lot to me."

Coles is signed through 2009 to a deal that is scheduled to pay him $5 million per year. According to someone close to him, he approached the Jets before this season with hopes of renegotiating, but was rebuffed.

That stance by the team has changed.

"I'm sure that everything (Mangini) can do within his power to make things happen and work for me to finish my career here he will, but there is a business side to it," Coles said. "Hopefully we can just reach something."

Coles, who was drafted by the Jets in 2000, said finishing his career with the Jets "is a desire of mine," but he added that the business side of things is always a wildcard.

"This is where I want to be and I feel strongly that this is something we will get done," he said.

When the contentious Pete Kendall contract situation was brought up, Coles said, "It won't get blown out of proportion, because I don't ever want to handle the situation the way Pete Kendall did with the organization. That's not me; that's not my thing. If anything, I want to try and reach something away from negativity."

One issue to watch is what happens with Chad Pennington, who's most likely to be traded in the offseason. Coles and Pennington are as close as brothers and Pennington was the reason Coles returned to the Jets after playing in Washington.

"That's something I will have to sit down and talk to Chad about," Coles said. "Chad is one of the main reasons why I came back. It's something I have to sit down and ask him how he feels, because there has to be some type of input on his part.

"I will always want to have his blessings."

mark.cannizzaro@nypost.com

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GRADING THE JETS

BY TOM ROCK

December 24, 2007

OFFENSE

D

One touchdown, a red-zone visit that yielded zero points, and two turnovers. What more do you need to know? Oh, you need to know that the Jets allowed six sacks and now have given up 45 on the season. The Jets at least improved from their third-down futility, converting a still pretty bad 6 of 16. Thomas Jones has his 1,000-yard season, but he gained only 58 yards on 21 carries. And of course, no touchdowns. The Chad Pennington-to-Jerricho Cotchery connection worked well - eight catches for 152 yards - but it also resulted in an interception on an underthrown pass from Pennington.

DEFENSE

B

The Jets have allowed one passing touchdown in the last four games, none in the last two, and they kept Vince Young relatively handcuffed. The Titans completed only 12 passes in the game. They sacked the hefty QB three times and probably could have had more; S Kerry Rhodes spun his partner and dosey-doed on a blitz from which Young escaped. David Harris forced a fumble recovered by Dewayne Robertson. LenDale White ran for 103 yards on 23 carries, but never really hurt the Jets. The Titans only reached the red zone once - on a short field following a turnover - and punched it in.

SPECIAL TEAMS

F

If a team loses by four points and gives away those four points in the kicking game, it's not hard to pinpoint a problem area. Mike Nugent's extra point was blocked when the Titans flooded the right side and overwhelmed D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. Then Nugent shanked a 51-yarder at the end of the first half that never had a chance. He was working with a new holder, punter Jeremy Kapinos who replaced Ben Graham, but the holds on both kicks appeared to be fine. Justin McCareins made a nice play to tip a punt away from the end zone and out of bounds at the 2.

COACHING

C

Well, the Jets didn't roll over. That has to count for something, and it probably comes from the top with Eric Mangini. It would have been easy for them to go through the motions after last week's emotionally draining loss to the Patriots, but the Jets did fight hard. They just don't have the pieces for the coaching staff to maneuver properly. Rotating the offensive line against a premier defensive front resulted in six sacks. Besides the fake delay-of-game quarterback sneak - which might not have even come from the sideline - the Jets never seemed to have a tactical edge on the Titans.

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Pennington, Coles uncertain of futures with Jets

BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com

December 24, 2007

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Digg Del.icio.us Facebook Fark Google Newsvine Reddit Yahoo Print Single page view Reprints Post Comment Text size: NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Chad Pennington tried to inhale the moment, aware he may have only a few of them left as a Jet.

"Walking off the field, I took a big, deep breath and took a look around the stadium," the eight-year veteran said after yesterday's 10-6 loss to the Titans, his first start since late October and, in all likelihood, his final start for his only franchise. "It was nice to be close to home. It was bittersweet coming off the field after a loss, but having not been in there for a while ... It just felt good being the starter again."

Pennington still believes he is a starting-caliber quarterback, but he's also aware that it probably won't happen here. Eric Mangini has said second-year player Kellen Clemens gives the Jets the best chance to win, and if he is capable of getting enough practice reps this week, he'll be the starter Sunday in the season finale against the Chiefs. That Clemens was healthy enough to be the backup yesterday indicates he is ready to return.

Pennington - whose father, Elwood, told a Knoxville paper last week that he believes his son needs a change of scenery after the way the Jets treated him the last few years, particularly this year - is far from the only Jet whose days with the team are numbered.

Laveranues Coles, who was placed on injured reserve Saturday with a high ankle sprain, said he expects to renegotiate his contract with the team during the offseason. He has played hurt for most of the year, and it sounded as if Coles will be seeking a raise on the $5 million he is due to earn in 2008.

"It's not only me I have to keep in mind, I have a family also," he said.

The Jets' season ended months ago. These last few games only represent the end of an era.

Pennington said he enjoyed playing yesterday. He completed 26 of 32 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown but also threw two interceptions, one on third-and-goal from the 8. "I'd like to have two throws back," he said, "but other than that, I felt really good about everything. I felt like I was seeing everything."

Including the writing on the wall. Asked why he had been benched, he could only speculate.

"Number one, I would think most importantly that coming in, coach Mangini drafted Kellen, moved up to draft him to get him as quickly as they could," Pennington said. "They felt he was a good player, and rightfully so. They want to give him a look and see exactly what they have and if he can help us win. That would be my first inclination."

Pennington also said that with the team 1-7 at that point, the organization probably thought it was a good time to take a chance and "roll the dice."

He said that was only his educated guess. Asked if it's frustrating that he has to guess and that a reason was never clearly presented to him, he said it's just the business side of football.

As for the quotes from his father, Pennington said he hadn't read the article and couldn't speak directly about them. "I imagine it was Dad being a dad and taking up for his son," he said. "That's to be expected."

Coles said Pennington's fate could play a role in his destination for the 2008 season.

"Chad is one of the main reasons I came back," Coles said of his return from the Redskins in 2005. "I think it's something I'll have to sit down and ask him how he feels. There has to be some kind of input from his part because he is my friend and I want to know how he would feel about it. I would always want to have his blessings about anything because he is my friend. Again, he is the reason that brought me back."

Unlike Pennington, who wouldn't say either way, Coles made it clear that his desire is to remain with the Jets. He said his negotiations or tactics will not escalate to the circus that enveloped training camp as guard Pete Kendall sought a raise.

"I don't ever want to handle the situation the way Pete Kendall did with the organization," Coles said. "That's not me. That's not my thing."

Coles said he spoke with Mangini last week and was touched by the coach's sentiment that he would like Coles to be a part of the team's future. After butting heads for almost two years and making several remarks about how physically difficult Mangini's rigorous approach can be, Coles appreciated the conversation.

"Coach doesn't step out of his circle too much to let you know that he's in your corner," Coles said, adding that he thinks Mangini will do everything he can to make sure Coles comes back. Of course, Kendall said he came away from a meeting with Mangini feeling the same way.

"This is where I want to be," Coles said, "and I feel strongly that this is something that will get done."

Sunday

Chiefs at Jets

4:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Radio: WEPN (1050)

History of futility

With one game remaining, this Jets season already ranks among the worst in franchise history:

Season W-L Coach

1996 1-15 Rich Kotite

1995 3-13 Rich Kotite

2007 3-12 Eric Mangini

1977 3-11 Walt Michaels

1976 3-11 Lou Holtz/Mike Holovak

1975 3-11 Charley Winner

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Plugging frayed O-line

BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com

December 24, 2007

Who played on the offensive line?

Who didn't is a better question. That would be Adrien Clarke, who'd started all season at left guard but was inactive. Will Montgomery started in his place. The Jets also rotated heavily along the line with Robert Turner and Clint Oldenburg, two practice-squad guys until this week, seeing significant time. Veteran Wade Smith replaced RG Brandon Moore when Moore was injured and after he was pulled because of a penalty. Only C Nick Mangold and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson played the entire game at their positions.

Was that a good idea?

Considering that the Titans have two Pro Bowlers on their front four, maybe not. But Eric Mangini probably wanted to get a good look at what the youngsters could do, and how better to evaluate them than against the best in the league? "I thought they handled the pressure and noise and communication relatively well," said Chad Pennington, who was on his back with six sacks. "I could not imagine my first start being against Albert Haynesworth."

Should the Jets have taken points off the board?

In retrospect, no. At the time, a case could be made. The penalty on Mike Nugent's 36-yard field goal that would have given the Jets a 9-7 lead late in the second quarter set up a first-and-goal at the 9. Given the Jets' inability to score points, especially in the red zone the last few weeks, it probably wasn't a wise decision. But then again, it didn't exactly cost the Jets a playoff ticket, so why not go for it?

Speaking of the playoffs ...?

Yes, the Titans are in control of their own destiny. If they win next week against the Colts, they're in because of the Browns' loss to the Bengals earlier in the day. That Titans-Colts game, by the way, will be the NBC game Sunday night, taking the place of Chiefs-Jets, which will be moved to 4:15 p.m.

Any statistical achievements we can be pleased with?

Thomas Jones and Jerricho Cotchery both eclipsed 1,000 yards. It's the fifth time in franchise history that the Jets have had a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver, the first since 2003.

On top of everything else, do the Jets really have a punter controversy?

Rookie Jeremy Kapinos, called up from the practice squad to take Laveranues Coles' spot on the roster, replaced Ben Graham in the game. Mangini said it was a coach's decision and Kapinos was solid, putting two of his five inside the 20. It probably wasn't a g'day for Graham, the former Australian football star.

JETS SUMMARY

1 2 3 4 F

JETS 0 6 0 0 6

TITANS 0 7 3 0 10

THE SCORING

SECOND QUARTER

Ten: Brown 4 run (Bironas kick), 14:23. Drive: 5 plays, 40 yards, 2:38. Key plays: R.Hill interception at Jets 40, Young 29 pass to Gage on 3rd-and-6. Tennessee 7, Jets 0.

Jets: Cotchery 9 pass from Pennington (kick blocked), 10:59. Drive: 6 plays, 77 yards, 3:24. Key play: Pennington 48 pass to Cotchery. Tennessee 7, Jets 6.

THIRD QUARTER

Ten: FG Bironas 46, 6:36. Drive: 9 plays, 58 yards, 4:02. Key plays: White 13 run, Young 12 pass to R.Williams, Young 27 pass to Hartsock. Tennessee 10, Jets 6.

ATTENDANCE

69,143

TEAM STATISTICS

Jets Ten

FIRST DOWNS 14 17

Rushing 5 7

Passing 8 10

Penalty 1 0

THIRD DOWN EFF 6-16 7-14

FOURTH DOWN EFF 1-2 0-0

TOTAL NET YARDS 296 273

Total Plays 62 62

Avg Gain 4.8 4.4

NET YARDS RUSHING 68 127

Rushes 24 36

Avg per rush 2.8 3.5

NET YARDS PASSING 228 '

Sacked-Yds lost 6-36 3-20

Gross-Yds passing 264 166

Completed-Att. 26-32 12-23

Had Intercepted 2 1

Yards-Pass Play 6.0 5.6

KICKOFFS-EndZone-TB 2-1-1 3-0-0

PUNTS-Avg. 5-41.6 5-44.2

Punts blocked 0 0

FGs-PATs blocked 0-1 0-0

TOTAL RETURN YARDAGE81 29

Punt Returns 1-15 1-6

Kickoff Returns 3-66 1-23

Interceptions 1-0 2-0

PENALTIES-Yds 4-35 5-39

FUMBLES-Lost 3-0 3-1

TIME OF POSSESSION 30:11 29:49

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING

Rushes-Yards-Long-Touchdowns

Jets: Jones 21-58-10-0, Pennington 2-5-3-0, Washington 1-5-5-0.

Tenn: White 23-103-14-0, C.Brown 5-15-4-1, Hall 1-8-8-0, Young 7-1-2-0.

PASSING

Completions-Attempts-Interceptions-Yards-Touchdowns

Jets: Pennington 26-32-2-264-1.

Tenn: Young 12-22-1-166-0.

RECEIVING

Receptions-Yards-Long-Touchdowns

Jets: Cotchery 8-152-48-1, B.Smith 5-45-29-0, Baker 4-40-18-0, Jones 3-5-4-0, Kowalewski 2-11-6-0, McCareins 2-9-6-0, Washington 2-2-5-0.

Tenn: R.Williams 4-54-19-0, Gage 3-48-29-0, Hall 2-13-11-0, Hartsock 1-27-27-0, Moulds 1-12-12-0, Scaife 1-12-12-0.

PUNTING

Punts-Average-Net Average-Touchbacks-Inside 20-Long

Jets: Kapinos 5-41.6-36.4-1-2-48.

Tenn: Hentrich 5-44.2-37.2-1-3-53.

DEFENSE

Tackles-Assists-Sacks

Jets: Pouha 8-0-0, Elam 5-2-0, Harris 4-4-1, Poteat 4-1-0, K.Coleman 3-6-0, Kassell 3-2-0, Barton 3-1-0, Thomas 3-0-0, Robertson 2-2-0, Rhodes 2-1-0, Hobson 2-0-1, Revis 2-0-0, E.Smith 2-0-0, Barrett 1-1-0, Mosley 1-1-0, Bowens 1-0-1, E.Coleman 1-0-0, Cotchery 1-0-0, Trusnik 1-0-0, DeVito 0-1-0.

Tenn: Vanden Bosch 8-3-3, Tulloch 7-3-0, Finnegan 7-0-0, Thornton 6-3-0, Griffin 6-1-0, King 5-0-0, Hill 4-0-0, T.Brown 3-2-1, Bulluck 3-2-0, Odom 2-1-1, Herndon 2-0-0, Haynesworth 1-3-0, Lowry 1-2-0, LaBoy 1-1-1, Cordova 1-0-0, Ealy 1-0-0, Hall 1-0-0, Scanlon 1-0-0, Troupe 1-0-0. Interceptions - Jets: Barrett 1-0. Tenn: Bulluck 1-0, Hill 1-0. Opponents Fumbles Recovered - Jets: Robertson. Tenn: None.

MISSED FIELD GOALS

Jets: Nugent 51 (WL).

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Herndon, Hill support re-shuffled secondary

By PAUL KUHARSKY and JIM WYATT

Staff Writers

The Titans secondary depth passed a tough test against the Jets.

Starting right cornerback Nick Harper suffered a groin injury in warm-ups, forcing a last-second decision to deactivate him.

That was just the start of the injuries. Every dressed defensive back played at least a little.

The most significant contributions were from Reynaldo Hill, who started for Harper and had one of Tennessee's two interceptions, and Kelly Herndon, who stepped in when Hill suffered a concussion.

Herndon signed in the offseason and brought 73 games and 49 starts of experience, including a Super Bowl, but he hadn't played on defense until Sunday.

"It's nice to just hit somebody," Herndon said. "It was a wonderful feeling, I missed it a lot. It was good to get out there."

Buoyed by a pass rush that sacked Chad Pennington six times, the secondary limited big plays with one notable exception.

Pennington hit Jerricho Cotchery for 48 yards in the second quarter as Cortland Finnegan, who's been Tennessee's best and most consistent cornerback this season, was beaten.

With 152 yards on eight catches, Cotchery had the best individual receiving day against the Titans this season.

Eric King, who played nickel back ahead of Vincent Fuller (shoulder), suffered an arm injury and Coach Jeff Fisher seemed concerned it may be serious.

The Titans want their frontline secondary on the field at Indianapolis next Sunday, but at least they can feel more confident about the reserves.

"It was a great feeling to see all those guys playing as one," Finnegan said.

Said Herndon: "Playoff teams have a lot of depth and we have a lot of depth on our team."

Points off board: Titans defensive tackle Tony Brown was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as Jets kicker Mike Nugent was connecting on a 36-yard field goal late in the first half.

The flag was thrown for leveraging. After leaping in an attempt to block the kick, Brown came down on the back of a teammate.

"They called leveraging, and I take full responsibility for that," Brown said. "It's something you're not allowed to do."

Jets Coach Eric Mangini chose to accept the penalty, which gave his team a first down on the Tennessee 9. Three plays later, Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck intercepted a Pennington pass in the end zone, leaving the Jets with no points on the possession.

Bulluck said it was a matter of making the best of a bad situation.

"After the fact, it was a great lift, but before the penalty we were happy to get off the field," he said. "We had to go back out there and play another set of downs. It was big for our defense."

Roughed up: Pennington has been fighting to keep his job with the Jets ever since coming out of Marshall in 2000 as a first-round pick.

The Knoxville native has battled injuries, multiple surgeries and quarterbacks eager to unseat him. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has started 61 of the 70 games he's played in, however.

The Titans did their best to knock him out of Sunday's game, sacking him six times and intercepting him twice.

"We knew that the strength of their defense was their pass rush and their defensive line,'' Pennington said. "We knew that. That is why we felt that the no-huddle would be effective for us. We could try to slow them down, get their big guys tired and make them do a lot of substituting.''

The Titans just kept coming.

"They are going to win some one-on-one blocks, and they did,'' Pennington said. "They did just enough to put us in some long yardage situations.''

Block party: Titans defensive end Antwan Odom blocked the extra point after New York's only touchdown, keeping the Titans ahead 7-6 with 10:59 remaining in the first half.

Odom knifed between D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold.

"I just lined up and shot the gap," Odom said. "It surprised me. I just put my hands up and it was right there and I blocked it."

It is the first block of any kind by the Titans this season

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Jets can't stop Vanden Bosch

Pro Bowler gets three sacks in win

By PAUL KUHARSKY

Staff Writer

Lindsey Vanden Bosch didn't mistake Albert Haynesworth for Santa Claus, but at a recent Christmas party she did confide in him a holiday wish.

She wanted her husband, Titans Pro Bowl defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, to move ahead of Kansas City's Jared Allen on the NFL sack leader board.

Vanden Bosch did his part with a monstrous three-sack game in a 10-6 win over the Jets at LP Field and lifted his season total to 12.

"She said anything I could do," Haynesworth said. "I don't know if I did anything, but at least he might be ahead of Jared Allen. We've got to tell Lindsey that's her Christmas present, those three sacks."

Alas, if Vanden Bosch is going to pass Allen, he'll need another big game in the regular season finale. Allen boosted his total to 13.5 with two sacks in a loss at Detroit.

Collective effort

Jets Coach Eric Mangini said his team's inability to stop

Vanden Bosch was a collective effort. Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and tight end Joe Kowalewski struggled in particular.

"There were times when he was able to rush over, whether we just had a tackle there, whether we had a tackle and a tight end, tackle and a running back," Mangini said. "He's a very, very good player that has an intense motor

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Coles wants to remain with team after this season

Monday, December 24, 2007

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles, who is on the injured reserve list with a high ankle sprain, said he wants to return to the club if both sides can reach an agreement on renegotiating his contract. He said there have already been preliminary discussions.

Coles, an eighth-year pro, is scheduled to earn a $5 million base salary in 2008 and $6 million in 2009. But neither year is guaranteed and the Jets could cut Coles at any time.

"They have their opinion and I have mine," said Coles, who caught 55 passes for 646 yards and six TDs this season. "I'm sure both sides will have their arguments. I don't want to ever have a situation like Pete Kendall (a nasty and public contract dispute) did with the organization. That's not me. I feel something will get done. I've expressed this is where I want to be."

Coles, who turns 30 this month, said he spoke recently with coach Eric Mangini and Mangini told him that he wants him back.

"That meant a lot to me because coach (doesn't) really step out of his circle too much," said Coles. "I'm sure he'll do whatever he can to have me stay here."

Kendall, of course, said he had a similar conversation with Mangini.

Coles said he couldn't get into detail on his feelings about being placed on injured reserve.

"It's basically a doctor's decision," he said. "I can't get into specifically what is wrong. It was something I didn't think could get worse and it did."

RG Brandon Moore

was yanked from the game after an unnecessary roughness penalty following a 41-yard catch by WR Jerricho Cotchery cost them 15 yards and critical field position. Moore hit Titans DE Kyle Vander Bosch out of bounds after he felt Vander Bosch had hit Cotchery late.

"I didn't try to push him," said Moore, who sat out the remainder of the series. "He flopped on the ground and acted a little bit. I wanted to let him know I was there and I didn't like it. ... I was really upset (to be pulled). We were on a nice drive. I was feeling good. I was trying to be out there for my teammates. I didn't like it."

Vander Bosch,

the Titans Pro Bowl DE, finished with three sacks, a forced fumble and 11 tackles as he took turns beating several Jets blockers, including LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson on one play. Five different Jets players allowed sacks.

"He (Vander Bosch) is a guy who we targeted and he still got three sacks and a forced fumble," said Mangini. "We tried the tackle, the tackle and the tight end, the tackle and the running back. He's a very good player who has an intense motor."

WR Jerricho Cotchery,

who had eight catches for 152 yards and a touchdown, notched the first 1,000-yard receiving season of his career and his fourth 100-yard game of the season. He has 74 catches for 1,054 yards and two touchdowns this season.

"I didn't set any statistical goals," said Cotchery. "I wanted to do better than last year and take it to another level. I think I did that."

Jets NT Sione Pouha had an outstanding game, finishing with eight tackles, all solo, and a batted pass. The third-year pro looks like a keeper. ... TE Chris Baker (four catches, 40 yards) made yet another one-handed grab.

Mike Nugent

had his first extra point of the season blocked as Titans DE Antwan Odom burst between C Nick Mangold and Ferguson right up the middle. Last season, Nugent had a PAT blocked and missed two FGs (30 and 33 yards) here in the opener.

LB Adrien Clarke,

whose missed block last week resulted in QB Kellen Clemens getting injured, was inactive for the first time this season. Will Montgomery replaced him in the starting lineup. Rookie G Robert Turner, who was just signed off the practice squad, alternated with Montgomery.

Veteran P Ben Graham, who had a punt blocked last week vs. the Patriots and has struggled at times this season, was inactive yesterday for the first time in his three-year career with the Jets. Rookie free-agent P Jeremy Kapinos, who was signed to the active roster on Saturday, was active. ... Titans C Kevin Mawae, an ex-Jet, was inactive with a calf injury.

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Jets still win in loss

Monday, December 24, 2007

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It has come down to this for the Jets in a season that went south long ago: They can win by losing and they may have won twice yesterday at LP Field against the Titans.

The Jets, who continue to play hard for coach Eric Mangini, lost to the Titans, 10-6, as their makeshift offensive line imploded against a pair of Pro Bowlers in defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth, yielding six sacks and almost getting quarterback Chad Pennington decapitated.

But the Jets (3-12) were big winners in that they kept pace with the Rams (3-12) and Falcons (3-12) for the second pick overall in the NFL draft behind the Dolphins (1-14) and they got a solid performance from Pennington that could push his value to a second-round pick.

Furthermore, the Jets may also be able to get a second- or third-round pick for linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who also isn't expected to return, as they attempt to retool their offensive and defensive lines and perhaps add a playmaker on offense, either at running back or wide receiver.

They're not expected to draft a quarterback early because Kellen Clemens remains the heir apparent and is expected to start next week against the Chiefs ... if fully recovered from a left shoulder/rib injury.

Pennington, making his first start since being benched in Week 8, was exactly the quarterback he has always been. He can move the chains and will throw the occasional interception. But if you put him on the right team, he can win a lot of games.

The eighth-year pro completed 26 of 32 passes for 264 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, one in the end zone. He showed remarkable courage standing in the pocket despite facing a fierce pass rush. He completed a 48-yard post pattern to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (eight catches, 152 yards, one TD) that set up the Jets' lone touchdown.

"I had a lot of fun," said Pennington, who is 1-7 as a starter this season. "I enjoyed it. I felt like I was seeing things."

This off-season should be interesting for Pennington. The Dolphins, Vikings and Falcons are among the teams expected to be interested. The Chiefs aren't, according to a person familiar with the team's plans at quarterback. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to speak publicly. The Chiefs think rookie Brodie Croyle is their future.

While Pennington, 31, may dance around questions about his future, his father Elwood Pennington didn't in a recent interview. He said his son wants out.

"With the new coaching staff and organization, they're going in a different direction," Elwood Pennington told the Knoxville News Sentinel over the weekend. "Chad doesn't fit into either's plans as far as the future is concerned. He's at the end of his career and he wants to be somewhere he can compete for the starting job, win games and maybe get to a Super Bowl."

When asked about the comments, Pennington was diplomatic.

"I haven't read the article," he said. "I imagine it was a dad being a dad, talking up for his son."

Asked if he needed a good performance against the Titans to show other teams he could still play because the perception is he was benched because of his poor play, Pennington said, "Whatever the perception is, the (game) film will reveal the reality."

Inexplicably, the Jets had rookie free-agent left guard Robert Turner and right tackle Clint Oldenburg, recently signed off their practice squad, make their NFL debuts against a Titans defense that entered the game ranked fifth in the NFL. The pair alternated with Will Montgomery and Anthony Clement, respectively. Starting left guard Adrien Clarke was inactive for the first time this season.

On one play, Titans defensive end Travis LaBoy blew by Oldenburg and blasted Pennington from the blind side. Fortunately, Pennington was okay.

The Jets, who received a solid effort from their own defense, rushed for just 68 yards on 24 carries (2.8-yard average). Running back Thomas Jones had 58 yards on 21 carries. He did, however, surpass the 1,000-yard mark (1,021).

Veteran right guard Brandon Moore seemed none too pleased with the experimentation along the line against a stout defense like the Titans.

"You have to ask Eric (Mangini)," he said.

Said Mangini: "It's not just a function of which game it was," he said. "I felt good about the plan. You've got to play when you're on the active roster. There are always going to be some good pass rushers."

The Titans (9-6) converted Pennington's first interception into a four-yard touchdown run by Chris Brown, but the Jets answered immediately with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Pennington to Cotchery. Mike Nugent's extra point was blocked and the Jets trailed, 7-6, early in the second quarter.

The Jets had a chance to go ahead with 2 minutes left in the first half after a penalty on a 36-yard field goal by Nugent gave them a first down at the nine-yard line. But on third down from the eight, Pennington was intercepted by linebacker Keith Bulluck on a pass to Brad Smith over the middle.

"I didn't see Bulluck at all until I threw it," said Pennington.

After the interception, the Jets never got closer than the Titans' 27-yard line, and Tennessee added a 46-yard field goal by Rob Bironas to go ahead, 10-6, with 6:36 left to play.

Dave Hutchinson may be reached at

dhutchinson@starledger.com

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RG Brandon Moore was yanked from the game after an unnecessary roughness penalty following a 41-yard catch by WR Jerricho Cotchery cost them 15 yards and critical field position. Moore hit Titans DE Kyle Vander Bosch out of bounds after he felt Vander Bosch had hit Cotchery late.

"I didn't try to push him," said Moore, who sat out the remainder of the series. "He flopped on the ground and acted a little bit. I wanted to let him know I was there and I didn't like it. ... I was really upset (to be pulled). We were on a nice drive. I was feeling good. I was trying to be out there for my teammates. I didn't like it."

The Mangina doghouse opens its doors to yet another player.

I agree with moore's version of the push that led to the penalty. It wasnt blatant, and he did it to cover his teammates's back, who he thought got hit late. yet, he goes into the doghouse. It's a B.S. way of doing things.

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