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Pro Football Week 8 | NEW YORK JETS 28, ATLANTA 3

Free Agency Is Starting to Pay Off

October 26, 1998|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After going 9-7 and barely missing a 1997 wild-card playoff berth, the New York Jets decided they needed more talent. On Sunday, they reaped the benefits of free agency in a big way.

Curtis Martin rushed for more than 100 yards for his fourth consecutive game, Vinny Testaverde threw two touchdown passes and Anthony Pleasant led the defense in the Jets' 28-3 victory on Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons. All three joined the Jets as free agents this season.

Jerome Henderson, who signed with New York before last season, went 53 yards with a fumble return after a sack of 44-year-old Steve DeBerg by Victor Green, and Keith Byars, another free-agent addition this year, had a 22-yard touchdown reception for the Jets (4-3).

"We're starting to become like a little family now," said Martin, who had 101 yards in 25 carries and scored a touchdown. "One thing I'm glad we did as a team was refocus and people have even worked harder, and I believe it is beginning to show."

The Jets had to give up a first-round and third-round pick to New England to sign Martin. Testaverde, Pleasant, Henderson and Byars didn't require giving up draft choices.

The defense, which also got interceptions from Mo Lewis and Aaron Glenn, completely dominated DeBerg, who became the NFL's oldest starting quarterback on Sunday when he replaced injured Chris Chandler, and the NFC's leading rusher Jamal Anderson.

Pleasant had one of five Jet sacks of DeBerg, who was nine for 17 for 117 yards and an interception before being replaced by equally ineffective Tony Graziani. Anderson had only 46 yards rushing after getting more than 100 in each of his previous four games. The Falcons (5-2) had 207 total yards.

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