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Pennington Shows Fancy Footwork

November 25, 2002|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — They called him "Jelly Legs" and "Elvis."

No, not Curtis Martin -- Chad Pennington.

Pennington punctuated the New York Jets' fourth consecutive victory Sunday with moves worthy of a Broadway dancer. Or, as teammate Sam Garnes said after a 31-13 rout of Buffalo, "Watch out, Michael Vick."

Neat jukes that leave defenders sprawled helplessly on the ground are expected from Martin, who ran for 120 yards as the Jets (6-5) remained firmly in the AFC East race. No one looks for Pennington to make them.

But after watching Martin make the Bills miss left and right, Pennington borrowed some of those moves on a one-yard touchdown that clinched the win. He sent linebacker Eddie Robinson tumbling to the turf with an inside fake on a rollout, then trotted into the end zone.

On fourth down, no less.

"It wasn't pretty. I think the move was so bad, he'd never seen it before," Pennington said of Robinson. "It was a disgrace to the quarterback position that has Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick."

It wasn't that bad. And it certainly was effective, taking away the momentum the Bills had built. "I didn't know he had that many moves," Coach Herman Edwards said. "He looked like Elvis Presley."

Martin has those kind of moves. Finally healed from a sprained ankle that plagued him since the season-opening win at Buffalo, Martin put together his second consecutive 100-yard effort. He has rushed for more than 1,150 yards in each of his seven seasons, but has struggled for much of 2002.

"I know I'm getting better, slowly but surely," Martin said. "We [were] at the bottom of the totem pole and we have to continue to fight our way up and take nothing for granted."

Pennington also was 15-for-24 (62.5%) for 178 yards. He entered the game completing a league-best 71% of his passes.

Keyed by Martin, the Jets quickly moved to a 24-3 lead on the opening drive of the second half. Operating into a stiff wind, they moved 65 yards as Martin ran for 17 -- Robinson drew a 15-yard face mask penalty on the play -- and went 18 yards with a dump pass. Laveranues Coles was wide open on a play-action rollout pass and Pennington connected with him for an 11-yard touchdown.

But the Bills (5-6) drove 69 yards, including an 18-yard pass to Eric Moulds on fourth down, before Travis Henry ran in from the one-yard line.

When Buffalo moved within 11 points on Mike Hollis' 40-yard field goal late in the third quarter, the crowd got restless.

Not to worry. The Jets went 65 yards in 11 plays as Pennington, 5-2 as a starter, used his wideouts for big plays. Wayne Chrebet caught an 11-yard pass on third down, Santana Moss gained 22 with a spin move after the catch, and Coles hauled in a high throw for 15 yards.

On fourth down, Pennington did his dance step into the end zone.

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