EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Sept. 18, 2005) -- Early in the fourth quarter Sunday, with the game on the line, Jets coach Herman Edwards walked up to his franchise quarterback on the sideline.
Edwards told Chad Pennington, "We have to score."
The Miami Dolphins had just closed the gap to 10-7 and the defense needed a breather. Pennington promptly went out and led a beautiful drive, making up for his struggles early on, and helped seal a 17-7 victory over the Dolphins with a 1-yard score to Jerald Sowell.
On the drive, Pennington went 7 of 7 for 74 yards. He finished 19 of 30 for 190 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
"We talk about our football team complementing each other," Pennington said. "The Dolphins put a good drive together, and on offense we needed to step up and put some points on the board. That's what we did."
It was far from pretty, but the Jets (1-1) will take any victory after an embarrassing loss in Kansas City last week. Following the defeat, in which the Jets had three turnovers and Pennington fumbled six times, Edwards preached to his team all week about getting back to a blue-collar mentality.
He gave them their keys to victory: protecting the football, establishing the run, stopping the run, and limiting penalties. The Jets did all of those with success against Miami (1-1), which returned to form following a surprising win over Denver last week.
New York had no turnovers, ran for 98 yards, held Miami to 66 on the ground, and committed five penalties for 40 yards.
"I didn't think blue collar necessarily meant ugly," Jets guard Pete Kendall said.
Edwards hardly cared.
"They realized what type of football team we are," Edwards said. "We have to do the little things well. It doesn't look pretty all the time -- pretty doesn't win."
Pennington struggled for most of the day. After losing two of his fumbles last week, Pennington vowed not to drop another one. It didn't take him long to break that promise: On the first play of the game, he bobbled the exchange from Kevin Mawae.
Ah, but Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor was offside, so instead of a disastrous start, Pennington had gotten the one little gaffe out of his system.
His passes were another matter. Many wobbled in the air; some were too short, others too long. But he connected on just enough, and was at his best after Gus Frerotte threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Randy McMichael to close the gap.
"He got hot and he made some good throws," Dolphins safety Lance Schulters said of Pennington. "He looked fine to me."
Curtis Martin, who won the NFL rushing title last season, was held to 72 yards on 31 carries as the Dolphins defense kept them in the game.
But Frerotte was off, finishing 20 of 43 for 177 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Dolphins also failed to muster much of a running attack. Rookie Ronnie Brown, who came into the game with a slight shoulder injury, had 35 yards on 12 carries.
Another reason for its inability to get much going: Miami had 10 penalties for 88 yards. The Dolphins also converted 4 of 14 third-down opportunities.
"There were too many penalties in the game," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. "We talk about playing hard and competing, but you also have to play smart. That's something we need to do a better job of. We did a lot of good things out there, but they were negated by our errors."
Things even went wrong with normally terrific Olindo Mare, who missed a 21-yard field goal in the first quarter wide left after a high snap caused him to stutter-step before planting to make his kick.
The Jets led 10-0 at halftime but it could have been more following a bizarre sequence late in the second quarter.
On third-and-goal from the 8, Pennington threw complete down the middle to Wayne Chrebet, who appeared to stretch the ball over the plane of the goal line.
Officials ruled Chrebet down, but the Jets challenged the call. After the review, the call was upheld because the referee ruled Chrebet's knee was down, and he was touched down, before getting the ball into the end zone. Then on fourth down from the goal line, Martin tried to get himself in but fumbled and the Dolphins got the ball on downs.
NOTES: The Jets honored former linebackers Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis at a halftime ceremony. Both stopped playing after the 2003 season, and signed with the Jets this past offseason to officially retire as Jets. ... Neither team had injuries to report, though Jets safety Erik Coleman had his right thumb wrapped.