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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Jets are dialed in against Patriots

New York keeps New England out of the end zone to end drought at home against Tom Brady and Co.

September 21, 2009|SAM FARMER

Rex Ryan's massive phone-a-friend campaign wound up a party line.

Days after the first-year New York Jets coach recorded a phone message urging fans to crank up the energy for the New England game, his team pulled off a huge upset Sunday.

Not only did the Jets win, 16-9, knocking off a franchise that had beaten them eight consecutive times at the Meadowlands, but New York also became the first team to keep the Patriots out of the end zone since Miami on Dec. 10, 2006.

Before the other 31 NFL coaches scramble to make recordings of their own, everyone should get this message: You can't phone in victories.

The Green Bay Packers were reminded of that, losing a 31-24 stunner at home to Cincinnati, a franchise that was 0-4 at Lambeau Field and won only three road games over the last two seasons.

The Tennessee Titans learned it too, in a 34-31 home loss to Houston, which was 1-6 in Nashville and had lost four in a row there.

And who could have dreamed the left-for-dead Oakland Raiders would come back? They did, though, mounting a nick-of-time touchdown drive for a 13-10 victory at Kansas City.

Don't get too excited, Raiders fans. The Chiefs have lost 25 of 27, and they outgained Oakland, 409 yards to 166. But what matters in the end is the scoreboard.

"It was probably one of the strangest wins," running back Darren McFadden conceded. "But a win is a win."

The Bengals will agree, even though they nearly blew a 10-point lead in the final minute, with the Packers scrambling to get off one final play from the Cincinnati 10 as the last seconds ticked away. The game ended in the most anticlimactic of ways, on a false start, with the Packers wandering around in disbelief.

A week earlier, Bengals players had that same thousand-mile stare after Denver's Brandon Stokley scored the winning touchdown after plucking a deflection out of the air.

"It wasn't a feeling of 'here we go again' at all," Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer said Sunday. "I know our defense is too good. They have too much pride and weren't going to let that happen again."

The defense deserving of the most praise in Week 2 belongs to the Jets. Any team that can keep the Patriots out of the end zone for four quarters is something special. Ryan, the former defensive coordinator in Baltimore, devised a scheme that even seemed to confuse Tom Brady, whose offense at one point was flagged for consecutive delay-of-game penalties.

That followed a week of gum-flapping, most of it coming from the New York side, during which Jets safety Kerry Rhodes said the plan was to "embarrass" the Patriots' offense. Turns out his team pretty much did.

"Kerry made a statement," defensive end Shaun Ellis said. "We stood behind him and had his back."

In the long run

The Jets might have been the only ones to call fans, but lots of teams were dialing long distance Sunday. There were nine plays longer than 70 yards, and one at 69.

The most astounding performance came from Tennessee running back Chris Johnson, who scored on runs of 57 and 91 yards, and a catch and carry of 69. He finished with 284 yards from scrimmage, and his long touchdown tied an Oilers/Titans franchise record set by Sid Blanks in 1964.

San Francisco's Frank Gore ran for 207 yards against a Seattle defense that shut out St. Louis a week earlier. He had a 79-yard touchdown run in the first half, and an 80-yarder on the opening handoff after intermission.

Gore became only the second NFL player to have two touchdown runs of 79 or more yards in the same game, joining Detroit's Barry Sanders, who had touchdowns of 80 and 82 against Tampa Bay in 1997.

"I told myself, 'I'm not looking back,' " Gore said. "I told myself: 'Hey, if they're going to catch me, they're going to catch me. I'm just going to look straight ahead.' "

Prepare the confetti

The best chance for the Lions to win in the next few weeks will be Sunday's home game against Washington, which had its hands full in Week 2 with the woeful St. Louis Rams.

After the Redskins, the Lions play at Chicago, at home against Pittsburgh, and at Green Bay. Then comes their week off before they play host to the Rams on Nov. 1.

The Lions, who had a 10-7 lead over the Vikings at halftime before taking their 19th consecutive loss, haven't won in nearly 21 months.

"We can't keep making mistakes, and we can't keep taking penalties," center Dominic Raiola said. "We were fine in the first half, and then we stunk in the second half. I'm not pointing fingers at any one guy. This is on all of us."

--

sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Long distance

There were 10 plays that covered at least 69 yards Sunday:

69: Chris Johnson (Tennessee) pass from Kerry Collins for a touchdown.

71: DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia) pass from Kevin Kolb for a touchdown.

72: Andre Johnson (Houston) pass from Matt Schaub for a touchdown.

76: Donte Whitner (Buffalo) interception return for a touchdown.

79: Frank Gore (San Francisco) run for a touchdown.

80: Frank Gore (San Francisco) run for a touchdown.

81: Darren Sproles (San Diego) pass from Philip Rivers for a touchdown.

83: Antrel Rolle (Arizona) blocked field-goal return for a touchdown.

91: Chris Johnson (Tennessee) run for a touchdown.

97: Darren Sharper (New Orleans) interception return for a touchdown.

-- Los Angeles Times

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