Two weeks after Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler went down with shoulder injuries, and a week after third-stringer Brooks Bollinger was unimpressive in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Testaverde has given the Jets a much-needed boost.
The 41-year-old Testaverde led the Jets to an inspiring 14-12 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday.
“Vinny’s a stallion,” running back Curtis Martin said. “At his age, I can’t even imagine playing football, but he’s still out there and he’s still getting the job done.”
Testaverde played for the Jets from 1998-03 and started 15 games last year for the Dallas Cowboys, but was out of football until New York turned to him in desperation.
He returned to the team he guided to the AFC championship game in 1998 and looked as if he had been leading the offense all season. Testaverde finished 13-of-19 for 163 yards with an interception, and moved the offense efficiently — something the Jets hadn’t done much of this season.
“This would be icing on the cake for him to come back and lead our team to a championship,” Pennington said. “You can’t write a better book than that. It’s a great story. I’m rooting for him.”
Teams can’t crowd receivers and the line of scrimmage because of Testaverde’s arm strength. Martin, who led the league in rushing last season, was able to run for his first two touchdowns of the season Sunday.
New York’s defense continued its strong play, holding the Buccaneers to four field goals.
Holcomb, though, said he hadn’t been informed of the team’s plans and knows better than to get his hopes up after 10 NFL seasons as a journeyman backup quarterback.
Making his first start for Buffalo and the 14th of his career, Holcomb went 20-of-26 for 169 yards and a touchdown, efficiently engineering scoring drives on each of Buffalo’s first three possessions. That’s a big turnaround for an offense that had managed 29 points in its previous 14 quarters.
Bills players were pleased with Holcomb’s performance. While the numbers were modest, they were enough for several veterans to voice their support for Holcomb and the presence he provided.
“When you have a young guy, you don’t run a lot of plays that we ran today because he’s not used to seeing those types of defenses,” Buffalo receiver Eric Moulds said. “When you have a veteran guy that has played a long time, you can put more on display because he’s seen every kind of coverage.”
Coach Mike Mularkey also was happy with Holcomb’s performance but insisted it won’t be the determining factor in who will start against the Jets.
The Bills began this season with high hopes for Losman, the second of Buffalo’s two 2004 first-round picks who was awarded the No. 1 job in February. He replaced Drew Bledsoe, who’s now the starter in Dallas.
Despite the win, not all is well for Buffalo.
The Bills offense has not scored a second-half touchdown, getting limited to three field goals in five games. They’ve yet to produce 200 yards passing in a game this season and have gone 35 straight without a 300-yard game.
The defense bounced back against Miami to register five turnovers, including a forced fumble on special teams, but it’s still having difficulty stopping the run.