"With each game that I have a chance to play in, and with each rep I get in practice, I'm growing in confidence and I think the offense is as well," Clemens said after completing 6-of-8 for 122 yards and an interception. "Any time you get some experience it is a good thing."
The Jets (2-1) scored twice in a little over four minutes to take command. Danny Ware had a go-ahead 16-yard touchdown run and Clemens completed consecutive passes of 45 and 34 yards before scoring on a 1-yard sneak.
Pennington combined with halfback Leon Washington on a 79-yard catch and run for a touchdown on a stunning first play from scrimmage, but he and the offense failed to record a first down the rest of the half.
"I feel good physically," said Pennington, who was 5-of-11 for 89 yards. "I feel good mentally. We're just inconsistent."
Take away the opening TD pass, and Pennington was 4-for-10 for 10 yards. He has one touchdown pass and two interceptions turned into opposition touchdowns in the preseason.
Manning and the Giants (1-2) dominated early, controlling the ball for more than 21 minutes in taking a 12-6 lead.
It was perfect timing for Manning, whose leadership was criticized by former teammate turned football analyst Tiki Barber on the Sunday Night Football halftime show this past week.
Manning responded with a ripping criticism of Barber on Tuesday, and he followed that up with another solid performance against the Jets.
When asked about the controversy with Barber, Manning feigned ignorance.
"I am just trying to go out there, play well and put our team in situations to win," Manning said. "We are doing a good job offensively. The mistakes we are making are correctable."
"I think you guys made more a big deal about that than we did," Giants guard Rich Seubert said of the Manning-Barber controversy. "Eli is a leader. Everybody leads differently. Everybody in this locker room has Eli's back. He's our quarterback."
The lead could have been bigger had veteran Lawrence Tynes not missed field goal attempts of 40 and 42 yards in the half. He converted on a 40-yard attempt.
Free agent Josh Huston, who is battling Tynes at kicker, also missed a 42-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.
The Giants' other two points came on a safety when the Rashad Washington was called for holding in the end zone when Ben Graham was punting.
Pennington's touchdown pass to Washington came on a play in which the halfback went in motion. Cornerback R.W. McQuarters bit on a pump fake and Pennington found Washington in stride. He scored after making safety James Butler miss a tackle near midfield.
"It was a good time to call it," Clemens said of the first long pass. "I'll tell you what, Justin hit fifth gear to go get that ball."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.