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Martin Shows Patriots What They're Missing

October 16, 2000|From Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. — Vinny Testaverde's neck felt better Sunday. Curtis Martin's legs weren't bad, either.

Testaverde, recovering from a pinched nerve in his neck, took every snap at quarterback for the New York Jets, and Martin showed the New England Patriots what he once gave them--a running game--as the Jets dominated the Patriots, 34-17.

Martin, in his third season with the Jets since leaving New England as a free agent, rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns.

"Right now, they're the enemy," Martin said. "I don't wish them bad. I wish them all the success, except when they play us."

The Jets (5-1) tied idle Miami for the AFC East lead after losing to Pittsburgh, 20-3, a week earlier. Testaverde left that game after his first offensive play because of a pinched nerve in his neck. Jet Coach Al Groh did not reveal whether Testaverde or Ray Lucas would start against the Patriots.

Testaverde said he felt an occasional tingling in his left arm, but not as much pain as he did last Sunday. As long as he could hand off to Martin, the Jets should be OK.

"Curtis is our workhorse," Testaverde said. "We go as he goes."

The Jets sacked Drew Bledsoe seven times and forced six turnovers from a team that had only five in its other six games.

The Patriots (2-5)were coming off consecutive victories against Denver and Indianapolis.

"Right now, time is of the essence," Patriot linebacker Ted Johnson said, "and we've got no time."

The Jets wasted little time capitalizing on New England mistakes to take a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. A fumble led to Martin's two-yard touchdown run, and Victor Green followed with 21-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Martin, who had 34 carries, put together his second 100-yard rushing game this season and his ninth biggest output of his six NFL seasons. He also rushed for three touchdowns for the second time in his career.

"We all know the type of running back that Curtis is," Patriot cornerback Ty Law said. "A team that runs the ball is hard to beat."

Since Martin left after rushing for more than 1,100 yards in each of his three seasons, the Patriots have had a different starting running back every year--Robert Edwards in 1998, Terry Allen in 1999 and Kevin Faulk this year. Faulk ran for a nine-yard touchdown that made the score 14-10 Sunday, but it was only New England's second rushing touchdown of the season.

Bledsoe, in his ninth season, scored his first career touchdown on a 13-yard run with 9:38 left.

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