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Lopsided loss leaves Haslett 'humiliated'

Rams fall flat in every phase of the game

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J -- St. Louis Rams coach Jim Haslett said he was "humiliated" by his team's performance in a 47-3 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.

The 44-point margin of defeat made it the third worst loss in Rams history behind a 48-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 27. 1987, and a 47-0 to the Chicago Bears on Nov. 29, 1942.

"We turned the ball over too many times, and we didn't do a good job of any phase," Haslett said. "I can't even name a phase that we were very good in. We didn't stop their run. We were awful in that area. We had the opportunities to get the ball, and we didn't catch it.

"That was a disaster. I'm humiliated. That's bad football all the way around."

The Rams' offense committed five turnovers that led to 27 points for the Jets.

The Rams' defense failed to come up with a either a turnover or a sack. Cornerbacks Fakhir Brown and Jason Craft both dropped potential interceptions deep in Rams territory.

The Jets scored on their first seven offensive possession, plus a 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Calvin Pace in building up a whopping 40-0 lead in the first half.

"You get a bunch of turnovers and then they capitalize and score on them. It's tough,'" Rams left guard Jacob Bell said. "That's a first for all of us, I think, being down 40-0 at halftime."

The Rams went to backup quarterback Trent Green in the second half.

Green provided a brief spark as the Rams moved the ball into Jets' territory on the opening drive of the second half. Josh Brown kicked a 37-yard field goal for the Rams' lone score of the game.

Green engineered another drive that advanced all the way to the Jets' 1-yard line before he threw an interception that was returned 41 yards by Hank Poteat.

The Jets racked up 206 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in the game.

The Jets were able to hold the ball for 13 minutes, 27 seconds out of a possible 15 minutes in the fourth quarter with mostly their second-string offense in the game.

The Jets' last drive milked the final 11:09 off the clock.

No action from Jackson

As expected, running back Steven Jackson didn't play against the Jets because of a strained thigh muscle that kept him out of practice all week.

Antonio Pittman was a slight surprise as the starter at running back. Pittman, who was able to practice only one day (Friday) last week because of a hamstring injury, had 13 carries for 28 yards, an averaged 2.2 yards per carry.

Kenneth Darby had four carries for 32 yards, but he also fumbled twice. One of the fumbles was negated by a penalty.

Quick hits

The inactives for the Rams were Jackson, running back Travis Minor, linebacker Chris Draft, guard Roy Schuening, tackle John Greco, defensive end Eric Moore and third-string quarterback Brock Berlin.

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Favre from difficultBY ERIK BOLAND | erik.boland@newsday.com

November 10, 2008

Did Brett Favre have as easy a day as it appeared?

Pretty much.

"I felt worse before the game," said Favre, who was not sacked for a second straight week.

Not that he was hurt beforehand. "Just old joints aching a bit," the 39-year-old said.

Had Favre been careless with the ball, it probably wouldn't have mattered yesterday, but he was an efficient 14-for-19 for 167 yards and a TD. His arm looked strong on several throws, including a 54-yard pass down the seam to Dustin Keller. Just about everything, passing and running, worked yesterday. And, of course, there were the five Rams turnovers.

"There is nothing better than winning and being in a football game like that," Favre said.

Speaking of Keller, was this a breakout game for the rookie?

Sure looked like it. The tight end caught a game-best and season-high six passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. He got loose on the aforementioned 54-yard pass and made a nice catch of a Favre bullet on a 1-yard TD reception.

"That's what he's capable of doing," Favre said. "I told him I wish I had him when I was younger. He has no idea how good he can be."

"That means a lot," Keller said.

As for the mismatches he produced, Keller said, "I really don't think any linebacker can cover me. That's my mentality. I don't think any safety can cover me, either. It's just my mentality I go into every game with."

Does Jay Feely keep his job another week?

The answer would have to be a resounding yes after Feely, 12-for-16 in field goals coming in, connected on all four of his FG tries, including a franchise record-tying 55-yarder at the end of the first half and impressive kicks, in swirling winds, from 49 and 46 yards.

Mike Nugent, out since getting injured in the opener in Miami, practiced with the team last week for the first time since before the Miami game, and there was talk that Feely was one bad game from losing his job. He didn't lose it yesterday.

What did Rams interim coach Jim Haslett have to say afterward?

Lots of things.

"I don't want anyone on the field if they can't hold on to the football."

"It was over at halftime."

"It was bad football all around. I can't even describe it. It was bad."

And in evaluating quarterback Marc Bulger, whom Haslett replaced to start the third quarter, the coach said this:

"There were a couple of things I didn't like but, obviously, there were a couple of things I didn't like about everybody on that field today."

SECOND GUESS

Tough to find something in a 47-3 blowout victory, but with rookie Vernon Gholston struggling to make the transition to outside linebacker, yesterday's second half would have been a good time to get him a good number of snaps.

UNSUNG HEROES

The Jets' offensive line of D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore and Damien Woody. Brett Favre was barely touched and the Jets rushed for 206 yards and a 4.8 average. Favre said the RBs and linemen deserved "several game balls."

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Related topic galleries: Marc Bulger, Brett Favre, Alan Faneca, Injuries, New York Jets, Vernon Gholston, Football

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Jets' secondary roughs up Rams all day longBY KATIE STRANG | caitlin.strang@newsday.com

November 10, 2008

In an inspired ensemble effort, the Jets' secondary terrorized an atrocious Rams offense yesterday, causing four of five turnovers that led to 27 points in the Jets' 47-3 rout of St. Louis.

The damage began when safety Abram Elam, starting for the second consecutive game for the injured Eric Smith, blindsided Marc Bulger on a blitz, knocking the ball up in the air and allowing Calvin Pace to scoop it up for a 50-yard touchdown return, the first TD of Pace's six-year NFL career.

Yesterday was the second week in a row that Elam caused a defensive turnover for a touchdown. Elam returned an interception 92 yards for a TD against the Bills last week. "That's something we try to emphasize in practice: Go out and attack the balls, make plays and try to help our team," he said.

But Elam made only the first dent. The Jets' secondary continued to batter Bulger and the St. Louis offense, forcing two of the Rams' three second-quarter turnovers. Bulger was pulled at halftime in favor of Trent Green.

Elam's partner at safety, Kerry Rhodes, also had a standout day. On play-action on first down near midfield, Bulger threw across the field intended for Donnie Avery, but Rhodes jumped the route and returned his first interception of the season 50 yards to the Rams' 18. Rhodes' play set up Brett Favre's 1-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Keller in the back of the end zone for a 37-0 lead.

"It felt like I had a fat gorilla on my back," he said of that elusive first pick. "Everybody kept making it a bigger deal each and every week, and it was a good thing for us. It helped us win today, so that's the main point."

Even before the interception, Rhodes recovered a second-quarter fumble and returned it 18 yards to set up a 46-yard field goal by Jay Feely. He also dived to deflect a third-quarter pass that ended up in the hands of Hank Poteat, who returned his first interception of the season 41 yards to set up Thomas Jones' third touchdown of the game.

Just before halftime, linebacker Bryan Thomas forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Eric Barton, setting up a 55-yard field goal by Feely as time ran out.

"We've just been putting pressure on the ball trying to get it out, and the last couple weeks we've been getting it out, so it's been good," Rhodes said.

Before getting three turnovers in last week's game against the Bills, the Jets' defense had forced only one turnover in three games. Rhodes said the unit is starting to hit its stride.

"It's kind of like a hitter that's in a slump," he said. "If he keeps concentrating on getting a hit, he doesn't get it, but when he just goes back and [starts] swinging the bat like he's been taught, he gets the hit."

Rhodes said if the secondary continues to complement a front seven that has been stout against the run, the Jets' defense could become one of the best in the league.

"If we play this way," Rhodes said, "it's gonna be tough."

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Tight end Keller arrives

BY RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Sunday, November 9th 2008, 8:20 PM

Sipkin/News

Brett Favre says Dustin Keller has a bright future in the NFL.

It took nine games, but rookie TE Dustin Keller finally displayed his big-play potential, recording his first 100-yard game in the Jets' 47-3 rout of the Rams yesterday at the Meadowlands.

"I told him I wish I had him when I was younger," QB Brett Favre said of the first-round pick, who set career highs with catches (six) and yards (107) and scored his third TD. "He's going to have a lot of 100-yard days, a lot of big plays. He has no idea how good he can be."

Keller's biggest play was a 54-yard reception on a terrific play-action fake by Favre.

GET BRETT: Eric Mangini waited until the 11:09 mark in the fourth quarter, ahead 47-3, before pulling Favre. Why so late?

"I had that experience against Arizona not too long ago," he said. "That's what we were going off of."

In Week 4, the Jets led at halftime, 35-0, only to see the Cards close to within 13.

FEELY GOOD: With injured PK Mike Nugent almost ready to return, Jay Feely responded with his best game of the season. Coincidence? He was 4-for-4, including a 55-yarder. That tied a team record, shared by Pat Leahy (1985) and John Hall (1997).

"I'm not really worried about (the competition)," Feely said.

SAFETY FIRST: S Kerry Rhodes recorded his first interception of the season, ending an 11-game drought.

"Oh, man, it felt like I had a fat ape or gorilla on my back," he said.

Rhodes set up Hank Poteat's interception, deflecting a pass in the end zone.

NOT HALF BAD: The Jets led at the half 40-0, tied for the second-largest halftime lead in NFL history. The largest is 42, the Packers over the Bucs in 1983.

STRIP SEARCH: For the second straight game, S Abram Elam, starting for the injured Eric Smith (multiple concussions), made one of the key plays. His strip sack on Marc Bulger resulted in Calvin Pace's 50-yard fumble return for a TD. Last week, Elam scored on a 92-yard interception return.

"He generates points," Mangini said of Elam.

It was the first sack of Elam's career, and Pace's first TD since high school.

HANDYMAN: Second-year G Rob Turner wears many hats. For the third straight week, he played tight end. He also did mop-up duty at guard and played center for two plays when Nick Mangold sat out with a lower-back injury.

Some teammates, in a joking fashion, were reluctant to talk about Turner, lest he get a big ego.

"Next thing you know, he'll come in here wearing a Speedo," FB Tony Richardson said.

OUCH: ILB David Bowens started for David Harris (groin surgery) for the second straight week. Cody Spencer started the second half. ... Rookie CB Dwight Lowery continued to struggle, with two penalties. ... TE Bubba Franks (hip), CB Justin Miller and WR David Clowney were among the inactives.

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Jets' confidence main Ram-ification of St. Louis blowout

It is a gaudy score - 47-3. When it scrolls across the bottom of your TV screen or flashes on a stadium scoreboard you sit up and take notice. It is a "Wow!" score, suggesting complete domination.

That was the score that the Jets (yes, those Jets) hung on St. Louis at the Meadowlands Sunday. The Rams were out of the game early in the second quarter when the Jets went up 24-0 on running back Thomas Jones' second of three touchdowns on the day.

RELATED: NO DOUBTING THOMAS IS IN HIGH GEAR

At that point, the Rams became an afterthought. It wasn't a matter of whether the Rams would lose, but the final margin. For the Jets, the rest of the day was all about the Patriots, whether New York wants to admit it or not.

Hey, New England! Are you watching? The Jets are coming to get you. That is what this Rams beating - the largest margin of victory in team history - was all about.

PHOTO GALLERY: JETS BATTER RAMS, 47-3

The Jets (6-3) are tied with New England for first place in the AFC East. They play the Patriots in a big tilt in Foxborough in a nationally televised game on Thursday night. This is the most important regular-season game between the two teams since the Jets went up to Foxborough with a playoff spot on the line on Dec. 22, 2002. The Jets won that game, 30-17, then won the AFC East the next week.

The Jets haven't been in first place this late in the season since 2004, when they won their first five games. Guess who knocked them off in Game 6? New England, 13-7, at Foxborough.

You see how this thing shapes up. The Patriots are a hated rival. You remember all that SpyGate stuff? The Jets have an opportunity to gain sole possession in the AFC East, put together a four-game win streak, but more importantly make a statement about superiority in the division and playoff positioning.

The Patriots have already thumbed their noses at the Jets. When all the chatter was about how the division was up for grabs because Tom Brady got hurt in the Patriots' season opener, New England beat the Jets with quarterback Matt Cassel making his first start.

The way the defense is playing now, the Jets wish they had a crack at the Week 2 Matt Cassel. But the way the 'D' played against the Rams Sunday, it might not matter.

As the Jets were smashing the Rams into rubble, tackle Damien Woody told Brett Favre that this is how good the Jets can be.

"We just need to get that swagger where we can play this kind of football every week. I'm not talking about being ****y or overconfident," Woody said. "The swagger comes when you go out week in and week out and you practice and everything you do in practice you're able to do on the field."

There was something special about what the Jets did yesterday - not that they didn't get help from the Rams (five turnovers - one returned 50 yards by linebacker Calvin Pace for a TD). It seemed every run or pass they attempted worked. Every blitz clicked.

"I was blocking my butt off," said Rams guard Richie Incognito. "I couldn't really tell where the free guys were coming from."

The Jets underwent a major renovation during the offseason, adding some high-priced veterans in free agency to revamp the offensive line and the defensive front and picking up Favre.

"You really don't know how the chemistry is going to work or if it's going to work," said fullback Tony Richardson, a free agent pickup from Minnesota. "When I was with Kansas City we brought in a lot of guys the year we brought in Willie Roaf. It took a couple of years. I think for us as far as that is concerned we are where we need to be right now."

Nose tackle Kris Jenkins has been a beast against the run. Woody and Alan Faneca seem to have found their niche because Jones looked like Walter Payton going around the end Sunday.

The Jets have won three in a row (and we're not even going to talk about the Oakland debacle). Each week they have gotten better. You have to love a defense that has returned a turnover for a TD in each of the last two games. Favre, who wasn't even touched by the Rams Sunday, seems to have corraled himself and made peace with the short game.

Even if the Patriots still feel superior to the Jets, at least Eric Mangini's guys have given Bill Belichick and his coaching staff something to ponder when they put together their game plan in a short week.

"I know what Bill and the Patriots are saying, 'Hey, they have to beat us. We own the division,'" Favre said. "If we're playing games like we played today we'll be hard to beat. Very hard to beat."

tsmith@nydailynews.com

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ROOKIE KELLER ENJOYS BREAKOUT GAME

By MARK CANNIZZARO

Posted: 3:31 am

November 10, 2008

Brett Favre approached rookie tight end Dustin Keller on the sideline yesterday and said, "Man, I wish I had you when I was younger."

Keller was Favre's go-to man yesterday, catching six passes for a career-high 107 yards and a touchdown in the Jets' 47-3 rout over the Rams yesterday at Giants Stadium.

"I'm very proud of Dustin," Favre said. "That's what he's capable of doing. He'll have a lot of 100-yard games. He has no idea how good he can be. He probably thinks he does, but the guy has tremendous potential. He has great character."

Keller said it meant a lot hearing those words from Favre. "I'm pretty confident in my ability, [but] coming from him that's pretty big," he said. "I wasn't expecting this type of game. Brett gave me some looks and hopefully his confidence in me went up a little bit."

*

LB Calvin Pace, who scored on a 50-yard fumble return for his first NFL TD, said the last time he scored a TD was in high school.

"It was a great feeling," he said. "I heard the crowd roar and I was thinking to myself, 'Man is this real?' It was the biggest moment in my career."

*

With Mike Nugent seemingly almost ready to return from his thigh injury, it's possible yesterday could have been Jay Feely's last game as a Jet.

If it was, Feely had a heck of a day, kicking field goals of 22, 49, 46 and 55 yards.

Feely's 55-yarder tied a franchise record for longest in team history with Pat Leahy and John Hall. Since taking over for Nugent, Feely is 16-for-20 on field goals.

*

CB Dwight Lowery, who started, continued to struggle with his consistency and was pulled from the game for a while after a couple penalties. Lowery did, however, force a fumble. . . . CB Hank Poteat picked off Trent Green near the Jets' goal line to prevent the Rams from scoring a TD. . . . Safety Kerry Rhodes had an interception. . . . LB Bryan Thomas had a great hustle forced fumble late in the first half.

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JONES RUNS OVER ST. LOUIS

By BRIAN LEWIS

Posted: 3:31 am

November 10, 2008

Thomas Jones' 20-yard burst on the game's first play from scrimmage was the tone-setter for the Jets' 47-3 rout of St. Louis. But it was his career-high third touchdown run - a churning, pounding carry that dragged Rams lineman Adam Carriker into the end zone with him - that was the seminal moment.

"Any time you impose your will on the other guy and push it in the end zone like that, it's demoralizing to the other team," said Jones, who gashed woebegone St. Louis for 149 yards.

The Jets scored the first seven times they had the ball, ramming it right down the Rams' throats.

"Any time you move the ball on the first drive and get points, it sets the tempo," Jones said. "You impose your will on the other team, especially running the ball. You physically have to dominate the other team."

Dominate would be the operative word. With the Rams linebackers in the wrong gaps on the first drive, Jones had five carries for 53 yards: on the last, he started left but cut back right, juked linebacker Oshiomogho Atogwe and got a seal block downfield by wide receiver Laveranues Coles for a 13-yard TD.

His second score was a 2-yard plunge behind Alan Fanaca that pushed the lead to 24-0. Then came the coup de grace, when his entire line helped him drag 6-6, 308-pound Carriker into the end zone. He roared and chest-bumped fullback Tony Richardson after a poster-style run that encapsulated this rout.

"Our offensive linemen were dominant today and TJ ran like a warrior," Richardson said. "It's fun. When you can run it into the end zone, that can kill a team's will."

Jones' 26 carries matched his total combined for the last two games.

brian.lewis@nypost.com

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AFTER BEATING PATSIES, EYES TURN TO PATS- Mike Vaccaro

November 10, 2008

THIS was everything the Jets could have asked for, and now they have before them everything they possibly could have hoped for. The Rams were the perfect patsies yesterday, a fiasco of a football team that played down to every expectation.

There will be no patsies awaiting the Jets in three days, just Pats. At which point we will know for certain, and forever, if the 2008 Jets are just another brick in the NFL's wall of parity, or if they are truly as good as they've hinted at being the past two weeks.

"We won this game rather convincingly," Brett Favre understated, a few minutes after the final bit of Rams residue was peeled off the Meadowlands carpet following this hard-to-believe and harder-to-watch 47-3 burial. "But it really doesn't matter. What matters is what we do from this point forward."

And this point forward is an easy-to-define swatch of time, the 70 or so hours connecting this morning and Thursday night, when the Jets will travel to Foxborough and have an old-fashioned stare-down with the Patriots, both teams sitting in first place with identical 6-3 records, both teams harboring the same wish.

"If we want to win the AFC East," Kris Jenkins, the Jets' powerful tackle, said, "then we're going to have to knock off New England sooner or later."

A few weeks ago, that would have seemed the most preposterous of all postgame proposals, because a few weeks ago the Jets were staggering off the field after barely surviving the woebegone Chiefs, a week after actually losing to the woeful Raiders. This was a team careening toward a meltdown, not a showdown.

Only the Jets have managed to remind you that it isn't just a baseball season that can feel like a lifetime. The football season is a 17-week marathon, too, filled with enough space to allow reinvention and rejuvenation, and enough time to let even a flawed team like the Jets find their sea legs and tear up their one-way tickets toward Palookaville.

Now the Jets are 6-3, and they get the Patriots in three days and the Titans 11 days after that. They are in position to do something awfully special with their season in the next two weeks, and in some ways it was an excruciating climb just to get that far.

And now comes the hard part.

"The key for us is consistency," head coach Eric Mangini said. "It can't be a one-game thing, or a two-game thing. It has to be an every-game thing."

Every game won't be like this game was, of course, a rare 60-minute joy ride in which the Jets played as well as they've played against a team that looked only occasionally professional. Not that it comes with an asterisk, of course; there have been too many times across the years when too many trap games kneecapped too many Jets seasons.

Thomas Jones and his 149 rushing yards blew up the trap, and so did Favre and his precise passing (167 yards, one TD, no picks) and so did the Jets defense, which forced five interceptions, and so did Jay Feely, who was suddenly booming kicks from the 973 area code in addition to 201, including a 55-yarder that closed out the half that tied a team record.

Nice work if you can get it.

There have been past collections of Jets that would have been awfully proud of themselves for this, which would all but ensure a brutal beating at Gillette Stadium Thursday. But this team doesn't seem to smack of self-satisfaction. At halftime, up 40-0, tackle Damien Woody loudly implored his teammates not to forget how close they'd come to squandering a huge lead against the Cardinals in late September.

"We've proved we're a pretty good football team," Favre said. "We have to keep proving that, though."

And there's no better time than Thursday, if they're going to prove it at all.

"I think they're kind of hitting their stride," Favre said of the Patriots. "And I think they kind of think that way about us."

Which ought to make for an interesting collision in Foxborough.

michael.vaccaro@nypost.com

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Jellin' Jets crush Rams Monday, November 10, 2008

BY J.P. PELZMAN

EAST RUTHERFORD — Before the Jets played St. Louis on Sunday, coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had a simple message for the offensive unit.

"It's not about St. Louis," Leon Washington recalled Schottenheimer saying. "It's not about the game plan. It's about the guys in this room and what we can do as a team."

That was a powerful statement, and Schottenheimer's charges responded with one of their own. They drove 80 yards in eight plays after the opening kickoff, and Thomas Jones' twisting 13-yard touchdown run was only the first salvo in the Jets' 47-3 demolition of the Rams at Giants Stadium. The Jets have won three straight games.

The 44-point win marked the largest margin of victory in team history, and the Jets' 40-0 halftime advantage tied for the third-highest advantage at intermission in NFL annals. There couldn't have been a much better way to head into the AFC East showdown for first place at New England on Thursday night. The Jets and Patriots are 6-3, with Buffalo and Miami one game behind at 5-4.

"I'm not going to say anything to put [the Patriots] on a pedestal," nose tackle Kris Jenkins said, "but at the same time I'm not going to say anything to put them off that pedestal."

That's OK, because the Patriots have been looking down at the Jets for quite some time, both in the standings and on the field. Counting a New England win over the Jets in the 2006 AFC playoffs, the Patriots have won 13 of the past 15 meetings. That includes Matt Cassel's first NFL start in Week 2, a 19-10 New England victory at the Meadowlands.

"It's going to be a challenge," Jenkins said.

This will be Brett Favre's second game in this one-sided rivalry, but he already knows the score.

"I know Bill [belichick] and the Patriots are saying, 'Hey, they have to beat us; we own this division.' And they're right," said Favre, who threw for 167 yards and one touchdown in his first turnover-free game of 2008 before being relieved in the fourth quarter. "What we've done up until this point matters, but it doesn't matter."

Not when the Jets go up against their perennial nemesis. So perhaps Schottenheimer's advice is best. The Jets need to focus on themselves, as they did against the Rams (2-7).

"It really gave the offense a lot of energy to go out and execute in the first half," Washington said of Schottenheimer's words, "and then on the first and second drives we got points. The defense played well, the offense played well and the special teams [played well]. That's two weeks in a row where you got a really good effort collectively as a unit."

The defense had five takeaways leading to 27 points. Jones had 149 yards on 26 carries and a career-high three touchdowns. The final one was a pile-driving 6-yarder for the game's final score, symbolizing the Jets' domination.

"Someone from the back side hit me," Jones said, "but I just kept my feet and my legs going. I know [fullback] Tony Richardson and a couple of other guys came from behind to help me out. I guess any time you can get in a situation like that — impose your will on the other team and push into the end zone like that — it's kind of demoralizing to the other team."

As was the whole day for the Rams.

"The Rams got taken behind the woodshed," St. Louis right guard Richie Incognito said. "We got our butts beat. That's what happened."

Actually, it seemed all the Rams were incognito as they didn't much resemble an NFL team. Now it's up to the Jets to carry their new identity up to Foxboro, Mass., later this week.

"We're looking forward to it," said tight end Dustin Keller, who had six receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown. "It's going to be a huge game for us. The talent is there. We are really good players. We can do anything. We're going to go out and give it everything we've got. ... Hopefully we can carry the momentum into the next game."

E-mail: pelzman@northjersey.com

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Four downs: A look back at Jets-Rams

by M.A. Mehta/The Star-Ledger

Monday November 10, 2008, 12:54 AM

Staff writer M.A. Mehta dives a little deeper into some of the questions after the Jets' 47-3 victory against the Rams:

Q: Heading to New England, are the Jets the best team in the AFC East?

A: I'm not drinking the Gang Green Kool-Aid just yet. The Patriots are better until the Jets prover they can beat them. Eric Mangini's club couldn't beat the Pats in Matt Cassel's first career start in Week 2. Why should we believe they can go on the road and win now that the Pats appear to be gelling with their new QB. After getting sacked 28 times in the first seven games, Cassel has been dumped just twice in the past two games. Plus, nobody coaches 'em up better than Bill Belichick. Do you see the Pats' 19-PLAY drive in the fourth quarter that helped them beat the Bills Sunday? 19 PLAYS?!

Q: Has Abram Elam earned a starting spot with his performances the past two weeks?

A: Absolutely. Two words: Wally Pipp. Six more: Eric Smith wasn't very good anyway. Elam's made a big play in each of the past two weeks. It'd be hard to justify sitting him down even if Smith has recovered with his multiple concussions.

3. Is Brett Favre's favorite target this week, Dustin Keller, clearly the No. 1 tight end?

A: Is that a trick question? Hmmm... Clearly? No. Keller is the best pass-catching tight end (sorry, Chris Baker). But he's far from being a complete tight end due to his blocking deficiencies. But he's obviously got the best upside in that group. As the season goes on, perhaps we'll see that transition, but Baker and Franks are still valuable pieces to the puzzle.

Q: How hard will it be to bounce back in time for Thursday's game?

A: I'm going to steal a favorite cliche: "It's the same for both sides." Last I checked, the Patriots aren't coming off a bye, so they'll have to deal with the same bumps and bruises as the Jets. Take some Advil and get back to work tomorrow.

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Notes: New York Jets' linebacker Pace gets first career touchdown

by Dave Hutchinson/The Star-Ledger

Sunday November 09, 2008, 8:57 PM

Joe Epstein/The Star-Ledger

Linebacker Calvin Pace, right, picked up this fumble and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown, the first of his career.Jets linebacker Calvin Pace joked that when it came to style points, he beat teammate Abram Elam by a mile Sunday during his 50-yard return of a forced fumble on a strip/sack by Elam for a first-quarter touchdown.

Last week, Elam labored the final 15 yards of his 92-yard interception return against the Bills. Sunday, Pace wasn't running as fast as Elam, but he got there without the need of an oxygen tank.

"I had better form," a smiling Pace said. "I thought it wasn't going to happen, or that it was a dream. I heard the crowd roaring. I saw the end zone. I was slow getting there, but I finally made it. It was the biggest moment in my career."

Pace's first career touchdown -- and the Jets' franchise-record tying fourth defensive score this season -- was the first of five turnovers the Jets created in their 47-3 victory Sunday against the Rams.

The unit has eight turnovers in the past two games after having just one in the previous three games.

The Jets also notched two more sacks, giving them 31 for the season. They had 29 sacks all last season. They also held the Rams to 80 yards rushing.

SS Kerry Rhodes had a fumble recovery and 50-yard return of his first interception of the season that led to 10 first-quarter points. Linebacker Eric Barton had a fumble recovery that led to a field goal. All of that came in the first half when the Jets raced to a 40-0 lead.

In the second half, CB Hank Poteat had an interception and 41-yard return that led to a touchdown.

"Everyone is coming together and making plays," Poteat said. "That's why you see it's not just the secondary, it's not just the linebackers, it's not just the D-line, everybody is playing their part.

"You have the D-line getting to the quarterback and helping us out on the back end. I played on some good team in Pittsburgh and New England and one of the key things was that guys were willing to do whatever it took to help their brothers out and it's starting to show on the field."

Rookie TE Dustin Keller had six catches for 107 yards and a TD, his career-best in receptions and yards. He has 19 catches for 254 yards and three TDs this season.

"Dustin, I'm proud of him," QB Brett Favre said. "I told him I wish I had him when I was younger. He has no idea how good he can be."

Said Keller: "That means a lot. Hopefully, that's the case because I'm pretty confident."

K Jay Feely tied a franchise-record with his 55-yard field goal just before the half, joining Pat Leahy and John Hall. Feely also hit from 22, 46 and 49 yards and has connected on 16 of 20 this season.

The Jets are 8-for-9 on fourth-down conversions this season.... CB Dwight Lowery started despite being benched last week. He had one pass defensed, one end zone pass interference on a questionable call and four tackles (one for a loss) while playing the entire game.... QB Kellen Clemens entered the game with 11:09 left in the fourth quarter but didn't throw a pass.... WRs Laveranues Coles (one catch, 14 yards) and Jerricho Cotchery (1-18) were quiet.... C Nick Mangold (back) left the game briefly in the second half but appeared fine after the game.

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Thursday Night Special: The Battle For the AFC East

Sunday, November 09th 2008, 9:59 pm by Pietro DiSante

Thursday night is going to be a huge game for the New York Jets and New England Patriots. Both teams lead the AFC East at (6-3) and are playing on a national spotlight Thursday night. This game cannot come soon enough for me and many Jets fans. The Patriots are without Tom Brady and are due to see 2nd Place. The Jets have all the key pieces to win in New England, now they just have to execute. The only way the Patriots can win is by out-coaching the Jets coaching staff. After the Week 2 loss for the Jets, I do not think Mangini and company will let that happen again.

I will talk about this game much more during the week. It is an exciting time for Jets fans though. This is the first time the Jets have looked like a team that could actually do something special since 2002. Seven big games to go though, none bigger than this Thursday.

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