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NY Jets 20, Minnesota 7

Oct. 20, 2002 at 6:09 PM   |   Comments

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Chad Pennington produced a breakout effort Sunday and the New York Jets took advantage of four turnovers to defeat the Minnesota Vikings, 20-7.

Making just his second NFL start, Pennington overshadowed college teammate Randy Moss by completing 24 of 29 passes for 324 yards and a touchdown. The Jets (2-4) won for the first time since their season-opening victory in Buffalo.

"Our backs were against the wall and they're still against the wall," Pennington said. "We have to build on this. I'm focused on one thing, winning the Super Bowl."

Minnesota (1-5) lost its first five games before defeating the struggling Detroit Lions last week.

"They're a little frustrated," said Jets cornerback Donnie Abraham, who had one of the team's three interceptions. "Like we were, they were 1-4."

The Vikings helped the Jets whenever they could, committing all four of their turnovers in the red zone. Three of them came within two yards of the goal line. Daunte Culpepper threw three interceptions and Michael Bennett had a fumble.

Two of the interceptions were intended for Moss, Minnesota's star receiver. He did not have a catch until the third quarter.

"We have to eliminate turnovers as a whole to be successful," Culpepper said.

With the St. Louis Rams having won Sunday, the Vikings are tied with the Seattle Seahawks for the worst record in the NFC. They host the Chicago Bears next week.

"I'm used to winning my whole life. It tears my soul up," Culpepper said. "We've got a ways to go. It's a long season. I still believe this team can win football games."

Pennington's favorite target at Marshall University was Moss, who caught 24 of the quarterback's 42 touchdown passes in 1997. On Sunday, Pennington was in all green again, like he wore with the Thundering Herd.

"That's what we wore at Marshall," he said. "But I'm a Jet now."

On Sunday, Pennington relied on Laveranues Coles and Santana Moss -- who combined on 11 catches for 197 yards -- and Minnesota's inability to hold onto the ball.

After the Jets opened the scoring with a first-quarter field goal, the Vikings set the tone on their first play from scrimmage as Abraham stepped in front of a pass intended for Randy Moss.

"I think the one early set the tone," Abraham said. "It gave us confidence."

New York had a field goal blocked on the ensuing drive, but it did not take long for Minnesota to turn the Giants Stadium boos into cheers.

On third and four from the New York seven, the 18th play of the drive, Culpepper threw a pass that linebacker Mo Lewis picked off at the two.

"It looked like he came out of nowhere," Robinson said. "I don't know where he came from. It gave us a big spark."

The Jets then went 84 yards on six plays, taking a 10-0 lead on Pennington's seven-yard strike to Coles. Pennington found Coles three times for 30 yards on a drive that included three third-down conversions and a 15-yard penalty.

New York enjoyed its longest drive of the season in the third quarter, marching 90 yards on six plays. The lead grew to 17-0 when Curtis Martin found the end zone from five yards.

Martin carried the ball 21 times for 70 yards and added three catches for 32 yards before getting kicked in the head late in the game. He surpassed 12,000 career yards from scrimmage with his touchdown run.

"There's no doubt about it, the key to our offense is No. 28," Pennington said. "He's similar to playing with Randy, you have to get him the ball."

Martin's touchdown was the Jets' only score of the third quarter, when Pennington went seven of seven for 126 yards. The scoring drive included a 34-yard pass to Santana Moss on third and three and a 28-yarder to Coles.

"I don't like just talking about one receiver, I love all my guys," Pennington said. "Today, Santana was really involved in the offense. You saw Wayne (Chrebet) make some great catches and you saw Laveranues make some great plays."

The Jets built a 20-0 lead on Hall's 37-yard field goal with 9:15 to play. They got possession when Robinson picked off Culpepper's long pass for Randy Moss in the end zone.

Minnesota also fumbled deep in Jets territory midway through the third quarter as Lewis popped Bennett and linebacker Marvin Jones recovered.

Culpepper finished 26 of 39 for 288 yards, but he had no touchdowns passes to go along with three interceptions. Randy Moss was held to four catches for 86 yards.

"We just couldn't find it," Culpepper said. "We just couldn't make plays."

Minnesota got on the scoreboard with 3:06 left when Moe Williams plunged into the end zone from a yard out.

The Vikings had 389 yards of total offense but gave up 407, committed the game's only four turnovers and had two 15-yard penalties that extended a pair of Jets scoring drives. Coach Mike Tice blamed a lack of confidence.

"We probably have about 80 percent of the guys that play with confidence," he said. "We have about 20 percent or maybe less than that that are nervous or worried about failure."

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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