Jets Find Themselves In Desperation Win Mode On Sunday
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.- Kerry Rhodes swooped in and laid a jarring hit on Brandon Jacobs. The ball fell to the Giants Stadium turf, giving the safety the chance to pick it up and saunter into the end zone for the opening touchdown.
It was the type of momentumchanging defensive play that's been lacking too often for the Jets this sea-son. But the Giants eventually coun-tered when rookie defensive back Aaron Ross generated two big plays himself in the fourth quarter, hand-ing the Jets a potential season-crushing 35-24 loss at the Meadow-lands, in the 11th regular season meeting between the two teams last Sunday.
Rhodes' play served as a defensive highlight for a unit struggling to strike fear in opposing offensives. Coach Eric Mangini's background as an assistant was on the defensive side, yet his 3-4 base defense has produced just three sacks in the first five games, contributing to a 1-4 start that could prevent a return trip to the postseason.
"Some of the pressure is going to create sacks, some is going to create throw?aways and some of the pres-sure is going to create intentional grounding," said Mangini about a de-fense that actually held Eli Manning to just 22 yards in the first half. "Sometimes it's not just about the sack - it's about the throw?away and their inability to convert."
Manning did convert in the fourth quarter, hitting Plaxico Burress on a short screen pass along the Giants sideline. Andre Dyson was in position to tackle the wideout or push him out of bounds, yet a ferocious stiff-arm pushed away Dyson and led to a 53-yard touchdown. It was just a series of breakdowns in the second half, as the Giants scored 28 points.
Chad Pennington's three intercep tions, including two picks by the rookie Ross, led to that point total. Mangini immediately brushed off questions about inserting backup Kellen Clemens for this week's home game against 1-3 Philadelphia. "Chad's our quarterback," Mangini said.
While Pennington will try to revive both his own season and the fortunes of his team, the defense will try to contain a mediocre Eagles' attack. Philadelphia, ranked 14th out of 32 teams in total offense, is coming off a bye week, one week after the Giants sacked Donovan McNabb 12 times.
That sack total quadrupled the Jets' entire season output, while the sec-ondary has only recorded three interceptions. Both Mangini and the play-ers stressed consistency as the team's biggest problem, citing the need to compile a solid 60-minute effort with-out surrendering a big play or a long drive."In the first half, we showed what kind of team we can be," Rhodes said. "We played good defense and made some plays on offense. We came back in the second half and things didn't work out the way that we wanted them to.
"It is kind of disheartening because we know the kind of team that we can be. We can play good for one quarter or a half, but we have to try to string it all together. I know you are tired of hearing it, but we are tired of hearing the same thing."
The Jets could also catch a break if RB Brian Westbrook misses a second straight contest, rehabbing from an abdominal injury. Westbrook, the main offensive weapon for the Eagles, is averaging 5.7 rushing yards-per-game, adding 19 receptions and a touchdown catch.