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Jets get back to elusive .500 mark

11/17/2002

DETROIT (AP) -- The New York Jets are beginning to emerge from
the huge hole they dug for themselves.

Question on the Jets: Other than Pennington's play, how have they turned their season around?
The defense has gotten better. The linebackers have improved, and CB Ray Mickens has made some big plays in recent weeks. Plus, the play-calling has utilized the Jets' receivers better. They're making more plays downfield. When you put it all together, the Jets are playing as forecast before the season began.

Question on the Lions: What are some of the major pieces they need to become a more consistent team?
The Lions need to build around their rookie quarterback, Joey Harrington. He has impressed with his poise and ability this season. It's tough to tell right now exactly what their needs will be come draft time, but the Lions need to evaluate their personnel as the season moves on. As they do that, they'll come up with a plan for the draft and potential free-agent acquisitions.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Chad Pennington threw a career-high four touchdowns -- two to
Wayne Chrebet -- as the Jets scored the last 18 points to beat the
Detroit Lions 31-14 Sunday.

The Jets (5-5) have won three straight and four of five to save
their season after a 1-4 start.

"The big thing about a month ago was to get back to .500 as
soon as possible, and hopefully we would have enough games left to
make a run for the playoffs,'' Chrebet said. "We did it pretty
quickly. This is a big win for us. Everybody thought this was a
trap game coming in here against a team with a losing record.''

The Lions (3-7) had won three in a row at Ford Field and four
straight against the Jets.

Since 1997, the Jets have won an NFL-best 27 games on the road
and are 9-3 as visitors under coach Herman Edwards, who does not
want his team to be content with its turnaround.

"We are really fortunate and we know that,'' Edwards said. "We
dug ourselves a deep, deep hole, and we can't make the mistake of
thinking we are out of it. We've given ourselves a chance, but it
doesn't matter unless we keep playing like this.''

New York led 13-0 after its first two possessions but fell
behind 14-13 midway through the third quarter after Joey Harrington
threw TD passes of 37 and 7 yards to Bill Schroeder.

The Jets went ahead for good late in the third quarter on
Pennington's second TD pass to Chrebet, on third down from the 4.
The play capped a 66-yard, 12-play drive after New York gained just
45 yards on its previous four possessions.

Laveranues Coles, completely uncovered, caught the 2-point
conversion to give New York a 21-14 lead.

"It was crucial for our offense to take control of the game and
to really put the stamp on it,'' Pennington said.

John Hall's 22-yard kick on the Jets' next possession made it
24-14, and a 1-yard TD pass to Anthony Becht made it a blowout.

"Defensively, we didn't play good,'' said Detroit's Todd Lyght,
who had an interception. "First down, third down, it didn't
matter. We were inconsistent, and we weren't able to get off the
field.''

The Lions lost seven yards -- including penalties -- on three
possessions after taking the lead.

The Jets have given up just 13.6 points a game over their last
five.

Pennington, a third-year pro, outshined rookie Harrington in a
duel of promising young quarterbacks.

Pennington was 21-of-26 for 229 yards with one interception.
Harrington was 15-of-30 for 171 yards with two TDs and one
interception.

"He struggled a little bit,'' Detroit coach Marty Mornhinweg
said.

Coles caught seven passes for 114 yards and Curtis Martin ran
for 112 yards on 22 carries.

James Stewart ran for 93 yards -- but just 8 in the second half --
against the Jets after they had limited running backs to 60 yards
or less in the previous four games. Schroeder caught three passes
for 57 yards and two TDs after being sharply criticized for his
play.

Detroit drove to the Jets 4 on the opening possession, but
linebacker Marvin Jones ended the drive with a diving interception
in the end zone.

Pennington then directed a 12-play, 80-yard drive over 6:16 that
ended with a 10-yard TD pass to Santana Moss in the back corner of
the end zone.

On the Jets' next possession, Pennington made a 15-yard TD pass
to Chrebet. James Hall blocked the extra point.

Detroit cut its deficit to 13-7 on the ensuing possession.

Harrington found Schroeder open on a crossing route and he used
his speed to run across the field untouched for a 37-yard TD early
in the second quarter.

The Lions took advantage of a big break to take a 14-13 lead in
the third quarter.

Linebacker James Darling was flagged for roughing the passer,
which negated an interception and gave the Lions a first down.
Harrington connected with Schroeder in the end zone on
third-and-goal from the 7.

Game notes
Detroit receiver Az-Zahir Hakim will miss the rest of the
season after dislocating and fracturing his left hip. Defensive end
Robert Porcher left the game with a hyperextended right knee, and
defensive tackle Luther Elliss sprained an ankle. ... Chrebet had
his first two-TD game since Oct. 23, 2000, against Miami and
Schroeder had his first two-TD game since Oct. 1, 2000, when he was
with Green Bay.