INDIANAPOLIS -- Rules are made to be broken, and Mark Gastineau managed to break the rule which was created because of him.
The NFL has instituted the so-called 'Gastineau rule' prohibiting excessive player celebration on the field. Gastineau, the New York Jets defensive end known for dancing around after sacking quarterbacks, was the best-known on-the-field party guy.
Rules are rules, but Gastineau got in a celebratory thrusted fist following one of his four QB sacks Sunday in the Jets' 23-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
'That's all I wanted to risk,' said Gastineau, who put his fist down before the line judge turned around to see why the crowd was yelling. He said he knows the referees are watching him 'because I'm basically one of the ones they put in the rule for.'
From a 7-7 halftime score, the Jets charged off to a 16-7 lead in the third quarter behind the running of Freeman McNeil and the leadership of quarterback Pat Ryan. McNeil rushed for 112 yards in 29 carries and Ryan, making his first start in a seven-year NFL career, threw two touchdown passes to Mickey Shuler, including the game-winner from 8 yards out with 1:51 left in the quarter.
'Pat Ryan was doing a good job out there tonight and his passing game looked very good,' said Coach Joe Walton. 'Pat was just a hair off from having a super, super game.'
Ryan's stats weren't great, with only 14 completions in 29 attempts and two interceptions, both by rookie Eugene Daniels. But he threw eight passes for first downs and led a two-minute offense to the Jets' first touchdown in the first half, coming on a 13-yard pass to Shuler.
'Once you get in a game, there is no difference when you start or come in off the bench,' said Ryan, who threw only 86 career passes before Sunday. 'I was kind of inconsistent at times, but I didn't expect it to be easy the first time out.'
The Colts, making their firstregular-season appearance in Indianapolis, played a respectable first half, taking a 7-0 lead on a 13-play, 84-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard run by Curtis Dickey with 10:49 left in the half. Dickey ended up with only 40 yards before a shoulder injury took him out of the game just after the half.
The Colts' first big mistake was the first of four fumbles they lost. Dickey dropped the ball and Ken Schroy recovered the first of two fumbles at the New York 21-yard line late in the first half.
With less than two minutes left, Ryan directed a 79-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard TD pass to Shuler with only seven seconds left. The Colts helped that drive out with a roughing the passer penalty on an incomplete fourth-down pass.
'The team played well the first 25 minutes of the game, then gave the Jets a touchdown,' said Colts coach Frank Kush. 'The fumbles were the critical turnovers with the Jets capatilizing on three occasions.'
Kush also complained about several dropped passes which kept the Colts from staging a late comeback.
After taking a 16-7 lead, the Jets were kind enough to let the Colts back into the game. Kirk Springs fumbled a punt and Indianapolis linebacker Mike Humiston recovered at the New York 5. Three plays later, running back Frank Middleton produced a tough second-effort to get the ball into the end zone to cut the difference to 16-14 with 10:06 left.
The Colts could get nothing going in two following possessions, and Gastineau's final sack of Mike Pagel forced the Colt QB to fumble, allowing linebacker Greg Buttle to get an insurance touchdown for the Jets.
The Jets also got a 29-yard field goal from Pat Leahy at the start of the second half following a fumble by Alvin Moore of Indianapolis.
There were positives for both teams Sunday. The Jets won and got a decent performance from Ryan. The Colts were losers, but quarterback Mike Pagel completed 6-of-10 first-half passes and finished 17-of-26 for 199 yards and one interception.
'I thought Pagel played well but the receivers have to catch the ball,' said Kush. 'There is no way we can play in this league dropping passes as we did.'