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WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: AL TOON-BY JIM BAUMBACH | jim.baumbach@newsday.com

November 16, 2008

Al Toon is far more active than your typical 45-year-old entrepreneur. The former Jets receiver has several real estate ventures, owns fast-food franchises, is involved in running a bank, serves on the boards of several companies and also stays busy watching his four children compete on various athletic stages.

But it wasn't that long ago that Toon essentially did nothing.

For years after Toon retired because of post-concussion syndrome, he still felt the scary effects: headaches, nausea, dizziness. For a while, he said, he couldn't even sit in an office conference room for a half-hour meeting. Focusing for too long hurt too much.

"For a couple of years it was pretty difficult, because there really wasn't very much I could do besides own a building and collect a check," Toon said in a telephone interview this past week. "To do anything that would require research and mental exercising proved to be very difficult."

But just as the doctors told him before Toon retired in 1992, the effects soon dissipated. Over time he was able to do more - to the point that he barely has free time to himself these days.

Yet for all the personal success he's experienced in the business world since his retirement from football, perhaps the breakthrough moment of his post-playing career came in the form of athletics.

Four years ago, Toon completed an Ironman competition, which is a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride followed by a 26.2-mile run.

The race came to his hometown of Madison, Wis., in 2002 and he volunteered. He began training for the race after that experience but felt he wasn't ready to compete in 2003. The next year, though, he met the challenge.

Toon said his goal was to finish in 14 hours, and his official time was 13 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds.

"It's a competition where you really have to focus," he said. "You can't think about how many hours are left. You have to think about that next step, or that next turn of the pedal, or that next stroke in the lake."

When he reached the 20-mile mark of the run, he realized he was going to finish and a rush of chills went through his body. Then came a burst of adrenaline that carried him to the finish.

Here is a three-time Pro Bowler, someone who once led the league in receptions, tallied 6,605 receiving yards and scored 31 touchdowns in his career. And this is what Toon had to say about completing an Ironman at the age of 41: "Athletically, I'd say it's one of my single greatest accomplishments."

What's most impressive, of course, is that he accomplished that feat - a competition based so much on focus - 12 years after head injuries forced him to leave the game he loved playing.

Now, whenever Toon hears of a player suffering a concussion, he thinks about the player's future health.

"My concern is always about the athlete and the long-term ramifications," he said. "I just hope that they and the team doctors and trainers do the right thing and wait the appropriate amount of time before they go back out and experiment with playing again."

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Cotchery's grab rivals Super reception by TyreeBY ERIK BOLAND | erik.boland@newsday.com

November 16, 2008

As the replay was shown over and over from various angles, the name made its way around the Gillette Stadium press box and likely to homes in the Boston and New York areas.

David Tyree.

While not lost in the Jets' 34-31 overtime victory over the Patriots Thursday night, Jerricho Cotchery's second-quarter reception was overshadowed a bit by the craziness of the second half.

With the Jets leading 17-6 and facing a second-and-3 from their 38-yard line, Brett Favre lofted a deep ball down the left sideline for Cotchery, covered tightly by cornerback Ellis Hobbs. Both players had to adjust to the slightly underthrown pass, and as they did, Hobbs interfered with Cotchery. With the players' bodies still pressed together, Cotchery, beginning to fall, slipped his left arm outward and grabbed the ball. Like Tyree, Cotchery pinned the ball to his helmet and maintained possession as he crashed to the ground, accompanied by the yellow flag thrown by the sideline official.

The one-handed 46-yard reception most certainly wasn't on par with Tyree's Super Bowl grab in terms of importance, but it was - easily - in degree of difficulty.

"Yeah, I started early in the week," Cotchery said with a laugh during a conference call Friday when he was asked if he had practiced catching the ball against his helmet. "No, it is something where you are given the opportunity to make a play, you want to do everything in your power to make that play at that time when you are given that opportunity. I am thankful that I was able to make that play at that time."

The catch came during a five-play, 87-yard drive that Cotchery capped with a 15-yard TD reception that gave the Jets a 24-6 lead. Cotchery, who has been battling a sore shoulder for weeks, caught three passes for 79 yards on the drive.

The fifth-year receiver was relatively nonchalant about the catch less than 24 hours after making it, but he was the only one taking that approach.

"It was pretty amazing," coach Eric Mangini said. "Jerricho has unbelievable hands, and some of the things that he comes down with are amazing. He's such an understated guy that you lose track of how gifted he is as a receiver."

Leon Washington, who contributed his own electrifying play earlier in the quarter by returning a kickoff 92 yards for a TD, called Cotchery's receptions, "one of the best catches I've seen in my young career."

Cotchery has taken the plaudits in stride. He's more interested in discussing what his teammates accomplished Thursday night in Foxborough, not the least of which was beating a team that had won 13 of the previous 15 meetings between the franchises. And, most important, taking over first place in the AFC East.

"We understood before the game the magnitude of the game," Cotchery said. "[Thursday] night we understood what it meant, period. We wanted to be ready for everything [so we could] come out with a victory, to make that next step."

Which Cotchery helped make possible with his hands.

Make that "hand."

Next Sunday

Jets at Tennessee

1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Radio: WEPN (1050)

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It's been 40 years since NBC called audible: HeidiBY NEIL BEST | neil.best@newsday.com

November 16, 2008

Of course Rose Szolnoki watched the TV movie "Heidi." Why wouldn't she have?

As a Jets fan, she had been enjoying her team's game against the Raiders, which the Jets led 32-29 with about a minute left when NBC left Oakland for the Alps. There seemed little reason for concern.

"I thought the game was in the bag," she told a Newsday reporter from her home in Beaver Falls, Pa., hours after learning the bag had sprung a historic leak.

The Raiders scored two late touchdowns to win, 43-32. "Oh, man, was I sick," she said. "Maybe it's a good thing for me they cut it off. I don't know if I could have taken it."

John Van Doorn, the Newsday story's writer, recalled Friday that Szolnoki was a "colorful person" who expressed herself colorfully that night, 40 years ago tomorrow.

After all, it was personal for her. Her son, Joe Namath, was the Jets' quarterback.

But her sick feeling was shared by millions of fans, and especially by dozens of people at NBC, who for the ensuing four decades have lived with the infamy of the "Heidi Game."

Once the details emerged, it turned out NBC was more careless than stupid, its president realizing before the game was cut off that that would be a very bad idea and trying, too late, to reverse course.

So the real legacy of the game was another milestone in pro football's evolution as the nation's favored TV sport. Two AFL powers were going toe-to-toe, and Americans would not stand for a young Swiss girl getting between them.

To make a very long story short:

Faced with a contractual obligation to sponsor Timex to run "Heidi" at 7 p.m., NBC initially instructed Dick Cline, its broadcast operations supervisor, to switch from the game regardless. When it became evident it would run long - 19 penalties didn't help - executives reconsidered.

But the network's switchboard was clogged with callers concerned that NBC would leave the game for the movie - and others worried that it would not - making communications difficult. By the time Cline heard directly from network president Julian Goodman, it was too late to get back to the action.

Viewers in the Eastern and Central Times Zones saw Oakland return a kickoff, then a commercial break, then "Heidi."

The Raiders made it 36-32 on a 43-yard pass from Daryle Lamonica to Charlie Smith with 42 seconds left. Nine seconds later, Preston Ridlehuber recovered Earl Christy's fumbled kickoff return and ran it in for another score.

(In 2003, Christy told the Tampa Tribune it took him 20 years to be able to talk about the fumble.)

Much confusion ensued, from Szolnoki's home to Lucy Ewbank's. The wife of Jets coach Weeb Ewbank called Oakland to congratulate him, only to hear grumbling on the other end of the phone.

John Madden was a Raiders assistant coach in 1968 and will be the analyst in the NBC booth tonight as the "Heidi" network televises a Cowboys-Redskins game, presumably in its entirety.

"None of the people involved or in attendance had any idea what was going on," he said before leaving for Washington.

"We didn't have things like SportsCenter. There were no highlights shows. We usually wouldn't find out until we read the papers the next day what went on in the entire NFL."

Madden's fellow coaches and players mostly were amused. "When you win, everything is funny," he said.

NBC was bombarded with angry calls, as were its affiliates, radio stations and the NYPD. At about 8:20, the network ran a crawl alerting viewers to the score - during a scene in which Heidi's cousin Klara is seen struggling to try to walk after falling out of her wheelchair.

Wrote The New York Times, "When it comes to doing the wrong things at the wrong moment, NBC should receive a headless Emmy for last night's fiasco."

Goodman apologized that night, and by the next morning the game was the talk of the nation.

Four decades later, Heidi's name still is invoked every time a TV misadventure is caused by the vagaries of sports scheduling.

In 2007, NBC exiled Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals to Versus so it could get to Preakness coverage. Last Sunday, ABC sent NASCAR to ESPN2 to show "America's Funniest Home Videos."

Two weeks ago, Fox dumped a Packers-Titans game as Tennessee lined up for the winning field goal in overtime because it had to show Cowboys-Giants in its entirety in Dallas and New York.

Even on Heidi day itself, NBC blew off the end of the earlier Chargers-Bills game to show the start of Raiders-Jets.

Jennifer Edwards, the star of "Heidi" (and a daughter of director Blake Edwards) told the Los Angeles Times in 1998 that producers of the old "Love Boat" series once discussed having her on an episode with Namath spoofing the "Heidi Game."

That never came off, but other tributes have. On the 35th anniversary, the NFL itself displayed a sense of humor by showing "Heidi" on the NFL Network.

Even within a few days of the incident, NBC was poking fun at itself, taking out a newspaper ad touting the positive reviews for "Heidi," including this, attributed to Namath:

"I didn't get a chance to see it, but I heard it was great."

What the N.Y. audience missed

With 1:05 to play in the game, Jim Turner kicked a 26-yard field goal that gave the Jets their 32-29 lead. After the ensuing kickoff, NBC switched to "Heidi." The plays that turned a Jets victory into defeat:

Turner kicks to Charlie Smith, 5 yards into end zone. Smith returns to OAK 22.

1-10-OAK 22: (:50) Daryle Lamonica pass to Smith for 20 yards. PENALTY on Jets' Paul Crane, personal foul, facemask, 15 yards, enforced at OAK 42.

1-10-NYJ 43: (:42) Lamonica pass right side to Smith for 43 yards, TOUCHDOWN. (George Blanda extra point good.) Score: OAK 36, NYJ 32

(:33) Mike Eischeid kicks off to Earl Christy at NYJ 12. Hit by Bill Budness, fumbles. Recovered by Preston Ridlehuber at NYJ 2, returned 2 yards for TOUCHDOWN. (Blanda extra point good.)

SCORE: OAK 43, NYJ 32

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Leon Washington is Jets' little big man in 2008

Saturday, November 15th 2008, 8:44 PM

Rogash/Getty

Leon Washington has been a spark plug for the Jets this season.

This is a quarterback year for the Giants and the Jets, a star-power quarterback year the likes of which the two teams have never had at the same time, on either side of the Hudson River. Since the NFL-AFL merger, the Jets had Joe Willie Namath. The Giants had Phil Simms. One's in the Hall of Fame, one should be. The rest of the time, it's not as if New York or Jersey has ever been the quarterback capital of the world.

But this is a quarterback year and a great year, because the Giants are the best team in the NFC and maybe all of football and the Jets are a first-place team in the AFC, where the bottom has fallen out just about everywhere except Nashville, Tenn. Eli Manning hasn't had the gaudiest stats lately, but here is the deal on Eli: His team has lost one out of the last 13 games it has played, and that is the only stat that ever matters for a quarterback, same as for a point guard in basketball.

And Brett the Jet?

Brett Favre came back to pro football this season and ended up coming to the Jets to play games exactly like the one he played Thursday night, to take the Jets down the field against the Patriots' defense the way he did on that long drive in the fourth quarter and then the way he did again in overtime. This was the night when Favre wasn't reckless and didn't throw it to the wrong team and, when it was all on the line for his team, when taking first place from the Patriots was right there in the kind of game the Jets always seem to lose to Belichick, he was all the quarterback he has ever been.

But in a quarterback year at Giants Stadium, the most exciting player at Giants Stadium, the most exciting moment, is a 5-8 Florida State guy for the Jets named Leon Washington. Think about that.

More than Eli or Favre or Plaxico Burress, the best football season around here, at least so far, is the ball in Leon Washington's hands. Returning it for another kickoff touchdown, the way he did the other night in Foxboro, or ripping off another long run, or catching one from Favre and making you wonder again just how far he can run.

Maybe there are other players in the NFL faster than this kid. Just not Thursday night, when Washington looked like the streak of light for the whole sport.

You know how many times either the Jets or the Giants have had somebody like this? Hardly ever. In another time, David Meggett was this kind of fun on a football field, coming at you from all angles, but Meggett wasn't as fast as Washington is. He changes a game against the Patriots the other night the way he did against the Chiefs a few weeks before that.

More people saw Washington against the Patriots, even if not enough around the country saw him because of this insane and ongoing turf war built around the NFL Network. But what Washington did against the Chiefs, at a time when the Jets could have gone completely sideways, might have saved his team's season.

"Having heart can overcome a lot of things," Washington said at the time.

He had 274 all-purpose yards that day, a day when he had the ball in his hands 13 times. He turned a short pass from Favre into an 18-yard score, he ran 60 yards for a touchdown, he set up the winning touchdown, in a game the Jets absolutely had to have, with a 37-yard punt return. He has been as much an MVP as anybody the Jets have had so far. At 5-8 and 200 pounds. They always talk on television about the football player in the Knicks' Nate Robinson. That football player is Leon Washington.

Despite his amazing skills and all that heart, he was overlooked even at Florida State, where he didn't even have the job of starting halfback to himself. And there were more than 100 players taken ahead of him in the NFL draft before he was finally selected. But Leon Washington could always play and play in big games, Washington once rushing for 195 yards in a Gator Bowl.

The short guy has now returned five kickoffs for touchdowns in his short Jets career. He has five touchdowns in all across the Jets' first 10 games and nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards and there is no way to look at the way the season has played out and say that the Jets would be 7-3 without him. He is not just the most fun of the season being played at Giants Stadium, he is as much fun to watch as anybody in the sport this season.

"An unbelievable player," is what Brett Favre said of Washington not long ago, before saying he's never played with anybody as versatile.

Washington isn't the one who saved the Jets in the second half Thursday night, the Jets' new Hall of Fame quarterback did that with those two long drives when it seemed he couldn't miss. But the Jets have no chance to win the game if Washington doesn't run away from everybody the way he did in the first half. We have heard for years about Devin Hester in Chicago. Now the Jets have a guy like that. Just better.

***

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Jets' Bryan Thomas gets wakeup call, then turns career around

By RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Saturday, November 15th 2008, 8:50 PM

Dill for News

Bryan Thomas (below) can pinpoint Feb. 28, 2008 at 12:42 p.m. as exact moment he turned around his career with Jets. The linebacker draws inspiration from his parents, Corine (l.) and Stanley.

Trott/Getty

The turning point in Bryan Thomas' career occurred last Feb. 28 at 12:42 p.m. The moment was so profound that he decided to make it indelible. He typed up the exact time and date, made a printout and taped it inside his locker at the Jets' facility. He also made a smaller, laminated version, which he keeps inside his wallet.

At home or work, that moment always is with him. Time waits for no man, but that particular time carries significant weight for this man.

OUR EXPERTS CALL THE SHOTS

"It inspires me," the veteran linebacker says.

It's so deeply personal that Thomas won't reveal too many of the particulars, except to say he was in his living room, watching football highlights on ESPN. Suddenly, he was overcome with shame, which turned to anger, which turned to determination.

Sitting in front of the TV in late February, Thomas relived that taboo moment and started thinking about how he had disappointed his hard-working father, who went into the Alabama coal mines 33 years ago and came out with a metal rod in his back and a new titanium knee. Stanley Thomas worked 14-hour days to support his family, always flirting with potential tragedy in the infamous Jim Walter No. 7 mine in Tuscaloosa City.

So it all hit Bryan at once - the guilt, the embarrassment, everything. It hit him so hard that he got emotional. At that moment, he decided enough was enough.

"I thought about how last season went and how I couldn't let something like that happen again," he says, reflecting on 2/28/08. "I decided at that moment that it had to be different, that it would be different."

It is.

Thomas has emerged as one of the most improved players on one of the most improved defenses in the NFL. Statistically, he already has exceeded last season's sack total, with 4

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The handshake re-visited

By Craig Thomas

Posted Nov 15, 2008

While the focus on the Mangini-Belichick handshake has faded a little, the Jets coach was asked about how the latest one went on Friday.

"I thought we had moved past all that stuff," said Mangini. "It was your typical Jets-Patriots post-game handshake. There was nothing unique about it."

But one Jet fan wrote into us about the latest handshake and noticed another problem.

"Bill tried pulling away and EM held on to say something extra," according to Jet fan William Belmont. "Would love to know what he said."

Perhaps he was asking him what he thought of the new shopping center connected to Gillette Stadium.

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Hutch's top 5 Jets victories since 1996

by Dave Hutchinson/The Star-Ledger

Saturday November 15, 2008, 7:08 PM

John Munson/The Star-Ledger

Remember these two guys? Wayne Chrebet and Chad Pennington were thrilled after the Jets knocked off the Packers to win the AFC East in 2002.Star-Ledger Jets beat writer Dave Hutchinson is in his 13th season covering the team, and gives us his take on the great performances he's witnessed in that time:

Wow, what a win on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, and what a clutch performance by quarterback Brett Favre in the Jets' 34-31 overtime victory. One win doesn't make a season, but it can surely break a season and that's what the Jets were facing.

Favre was brought here to save the day and he certainly did in that game. Kudos to GM Mike Tannenbaum for making the deal to bring Favre here. And the price, a conditional fourth-round pick, is a win-win for both the Jets and Packers. The better Favre plays, the higher the draft pick the Packers receive.

I tell you, I can't remember seeing some of the veteran Jets players so happy following a victory and I was happy for them. Guys like Shaun Ellis, Chris Baker and Brandon Moore were absolutely giddy.

And how about veteran kicker Jay Feely? Where would the Jets be without him this season?

With the Jets coming off one of their biggest victories in years, I've decided to make a list of my top-five victories since I started covering the team full-time in 1996.

Here goes:

1. Dec. 19, 1998 -- Jets 17, Bills 10 at Buffalo

Bill Parcells delivers the Jets their first ever AFC East title since the merger just two seasons removed from a disastrous and embarrassing 1-15 finish. What a ride. QB Vinny Testaverde throws 29 touchdowns and just seven interceptions that season as the Jets roll to a 12-4 finish.

The Game -- Testaverde hits WR Dedric Ward for a 71-yard TD late in the third quarter to give the Jets a 17-10 lead. S Victor Green intercepts Bills QB Doug Flutie with 3:52 left to secure the victory. I vividly remember the jubilation in the Jets' cramped dressing room, with long-suffering Jets like Mo Lewis and Green on the verge of tears.

2. Jan. 6, 2002 -- Jets 24, Raiders 22 at Oakland

The model citizens who reside in the "Black Hole'' were ready to bury the Jets and with good reason. Entering the game, the Jets hadn't won in Oakland since 1962. It was a do-or-die moment for the Jets -- win and they're in, lose and they go home.

The Game -- With 59 seconds left to play, K John Hall launched a 53-yard field goal to give the Jets an improbable victory. The win was even more noteworthy because the Jets were coming off a crushing loss to Buffalo the previous week in a game that could've secured a playoff berth.

3. Jan. 8, 2005 -- Jets 20, Chargers 17 in OT at San Diego

The Jets weren't even given a puncher's chance in this one, especially with the already weak-armed Chad Pennington battling through a strained rotator cuff injury. The Chargers (12-4) were thinking Super Bowl and the loss ultimately cost coach Marty Schottenheimer his job.

The Game -- Doug Brien kicked a 28-yard field goal with five seconds left in the extra session for the win. Pennington (23 of 33 for 279 yards, two TDs and no INTs) was brilliant. The Jets had the game won in regulation but a personal foul on LB Eric Barton against Chargers QB Drew Brees gave the Chargers new life and Brees hit TE Antonio Gates for a game-tying TD with 11 seconds left.

4. Dec. 29, 2002 -- Jets 42, Packers 17 at Giants Stadium

The Jets go against the Brett Favre-led Packers in a must-win game in the season finale after the Patriots keep them alive with a victory over the Dolphins in overtime. The Jets win only their second AFC East title.

The Game -- In stunning fashion, the Jets rout the Packers as Chad Pennington throws three TD passes to cap his coming-out season. Pennington took over for an ineffective Vinny Testaverde and went 8-4 as the starter as the Pennington era began.

5. Nov. 14, 2008 -- Jets 34, Patriots 31 in OT at New England

Everything is on the line here. The Jets have undergone a $140 million makeover -- and added QB Brett Favre for good measure -- and owner Woody Johnson wants results. There's the collective psyche of the team, first place in the AFC East, and perhaps coach Eric Mangini's job. It's hard to imagine Mangini surviving two losses to a Tom Brady-less Patriots team.

The Game -- The Jets jump to an early 24-6 second-quarter lead but need a 34-yard field goal by Jay Feely in overtime for the game-winner. Favre is masterful, completing 26 of 33 passes for 258 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.

Honorable mentions:

Oct. 23, 2000 -- Jets 40, Dolphins 37 in OT at Giants Stadium

I know. I know. This one just misses the cut. There was more at stake on Thursday night. I'm sorry. It was the seventh game of the season ... Jets rally from a 30-7 fourth-quarter deficit in the biggest comeback in club history.

Nov. 12, 2006 -- Jets 17, Patriots 14 at New England

Eric Mangini defeats his estranged mentor, Bill Belichick, in the mud and rain at Gillette Stadium. Jets prepared for the game by practicing in the rain that week and it pays off.

Jan. 4, 2003 -- Jets 41, Colts 0 at Giants Stadium

In an absolute stunner, Herm Edwards humiliates his good friend Tony Dungy and further extends QB Peyton Manning's postseason failures -- for the moment, that is.

Oct. 27, 1996 -- Jets 31, Cardinals 21 at Arizona

This one makes the list for all the wrong reasons as it's the Jets' only victory in an embarrassing 1-15 season under Rich Kotite. RB Adrian Murrell runs for a then club-record 199 yards and a touchdown.

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November 15, 2008

Emptying the notebook

Here are some leftover, but interesting notes from the Jets' win over New England, including more of Eric Mangini's defense of his decision to not put more pressure on Matt Cassel on New England's final drive [as I've written before, the word 'wrong' apparently is not in Mangini's vocabulary]:

"In that situation with 1:09 left and no timeouts they're fighting against two different things," the coach explained. "They're fighting against yardage and they're fighting against time and what you don't want to do is give up yardage and let them get out of bounds. When you play the type of defense that we were playing we were going to be able to protect the sidelines, jam the receivers and really the only open area is short and in the middle of the field where you want them to catch all the balls because that keeps the clock going. It's about 16 seconds per play is what it typically takes.

"If you can make them go the long hard way and eat up that time on the clock," Mangini added, "you put pressure on them two different ways and that is something that we played back when I was with the Jets the first time, in New England, here. It's not something new that was just developed."

Jay Feely hasn't been 100 percent sure he would be active for each of the last two games. Regular kicker Mike Nugent, out since opening day with a thigh injury, has returned to practice, and the two kickers have had a kicking contest the last two weeks.

Feely won it both times, and then won the New England game with a 34-yard overtime field goal.

"Mike and I get along great," Feely said afterward, "and you've just got to do your job. You can't worry about what the coaches are going to do [and] if they're going to play you or not. I want to see [Nugent] get healthy. He's a great kicker. ... Yeah, it's been kind of crazy this year and a roller-coaster ride for me, from getting cut by Miami [in preseason] all the way to this point. But I think that builds character in your life when you go through those times and you see how you respond."

FS Kerry Rhodes made a decisive move for the Jets that was vital to their victory, and it wasn't even during a play.

Rhodes, one of the team captains, called tails for the overtime coin flip. He was correct, and the Jets scored before the Patriots even had a possession.

"Kerry's been doing a tremendous job" on coin tosses, Leon Washington said. "I don't want to jinx him. We've been getting the ball first a lot."

CB Ty Law had three tackles in his return to the NFL, and had tight coverage for the most part when matched up with Randy Moss. However, he wasn

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Jets look for answers on 'D'

BY RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Overshadowed by the magnitude of Thursday night's 34-31 overtime win over the Patriots was an awful performance by the Jets' defense, which surrendered a season-high 511 total yards.

"Obviously, there are some things we need to clean up, and it wasn't all coverage," Eric Mangini said Friday.

Mangini and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton had no answer in the second half when Bill Belichick decided to put young QB Matt Cassel in shotgun formation on every play. Running the offense almost exclusively out of no-huddle sets, Cassel passed for 226 of his 400 yards after halftime.

Why didn't the Jets adjust?

"Short week," LB David Bowens said. "It's hard to prepare for everything that goes into a game. That's something we'll take a look at."

It marked the second time in the last four games the Jets had struggled against a shotgun/spread offense. The Chiefs' Tyler Thigpen torched them for 280 yards.

Curiously, the Jets blitzed Cassel only five times on 32 pass plays in the second half - all five-man rushes. Mangini said they preferred coverage over pressure because the Patriots are known as blitz-beaters.

"They can really make you pay," he said.

STILL SUPER: The team still was buzzing about Jerricho Cotchery's one-handed, ball-against-the-helmet catch, a la David Tyree.

"Pretty amazing," Mangini said of the 46-yard reception.

Cotchery said he received congratulatory calls and texts throughout the day.

WHAT A FEELY: With PK Jay Feely riding an 8-for-8 tear on field goals, including the 34-yard game-winner in OT, Mangini said he's in no rush to bring back Mike Nugent and is willing to keep two kickers on the roster....Leon Washington said one of the biggest plays of the game was Kerry Rhodes winning the OT coin toss. Rhodes is on a roll. Prior to that, he had won the opening toss in the previous four road games.... Mangini on whether the win could catapult the team to a special team: "It's special in the context of how we're starting to play."...The Jets scored 24 points in the first half, tied for the most ever against a Belichick-coached team in New England.

Email Print Buzz up!

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