EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—Earlier this week, New York Jets coach Herman Edwards went around the locker room trying to give his players an index card with the following message:
“If you are scared to go 4-0, call the police.”
There were no takers. It was easy to see why Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
Down 14-13 with 5:58 to go, Chad Pennington calmly led his team 60 yards to set up the winning field goal. Doug Brien nailed the 38-yarder with 58 seconds remaining to lift the Jets to a 16-14 victory, moving them to 4-0 for the second time in franchise history.
The last time the Jets were 4-0 was 2000, when they failed to make the playoffs and finished 9-7. They have a chance to go 5-0 for the first time next weekend at home against San Francisco.
“I had a bunch of them made and said, ‘If you are scared now, you can take these cards and no one will know you called them,”’ Edwards said. “They all looked at me like I was crazy. That’s the kind of team we have become. We believe in each other, we believe we can get it done.”
Pennington went 31-of-42 for 304 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but his biggest plays came at the end, after Buffalo (0-4) scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to take the lead. He went 7-of-8 for 51 yards on the winning drive.
Brien got a little redemption, making up for a 29-yard miss earlier in the game.
“You have to go out there and kick it like you’re kicking a ball in your back yard,” Brien said. “I knew I hit it true. It just seemed like it hung up there for 5 seconds.”
The Bills have lost three times by three points or less. They were poised to win this one, and it all started after Jeff Posey intercepted Pennington early in the fourth.
The Bills took the lead when Bledsoe connected with Lee Evans on a 46-yard touchdown pass with 5:58 remaining. Coach Mike Mularkey had gathered his team around late in the third quarter and chewed them out for their inconsistency.
Travis Henry said it worked.
“He got everybody up,” Henry said. “He told us we were still in the game. It was effective. He got us together and guys stepped up and held their ground.”
It wasn’t enough. Bledsoe finished 16-of-29 for 197 yards. Henry, who usually gives the Jets fits, had 12 carries for 33 yards and was limited in the second half by an ankle injury. McGahee had eight carries for 42 yards.
Buffalo also had seven penalties for 83 yards and converted 5-of-13 third downs.
“We’ve been close,” Bledsoe said. “Whatever the answer is to executing with more precision and avoid the stupid little mistakes, we’ve got to do it. That’s why we’re not winning.”
Curtis Martin had his string of three straight 100-yard rushing games broken, gaining 77 yards on 22 carries. But he did pass Franco Harris into ninth place on the NFL career rushing list with a 9-yard run in the second quarter. Martin has 12,171 yards.
With the Bills defense shutting down Martin, Pennington found Wayne Chrebet plenty. Chrebet finished with eight catches for 90 yards—his highest yardage total since getting 118 against Indianapolis on Dec. 23, 2001.
“For me, it’s extra special to come back and do whatever I can to contribute,” said Chrebet, bothered by post-concussion syndrome for most of last season. “This is why I came back, to have that feeling out there.”
John Abraham had three sacks, a week after getting two against Miami. Last year, Abraham missed the first Buffalo game after he was arrested for drunken driving and suspended by Edwards.
The Jets had plenty of missed opportunities. Chris Baker fumbled at the Bills 12 to stall a drive in the second quarter. In the third quarter, the Jets started two drives in Buffalo territory, but settled for just a 36-yard field goal by Brien.
They took advantage when it counted most.
“We know we still have some work we can do,” Pennington said. “We left some points on the field—that’s what we have to focus on.”
Jets left guard Brandon Moore hurt his hamstring in the second quarter and missed the rest of the game. Moss also left the game with cramps. … Moulds extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 98. He had six receptions for 54 yards. … Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma had his first career sack.