Soaring Jets zoom past Colts 41-0

Sunday, January 5, 2003

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After what they went through to make the playoffs, what a waste it would have been to exit early.

That was the message Herman Edwards gave his New York Jets. They heeded it superbly, routing the befuddled Indianapolis Colts 41-0 Saturday.

After barely getting into the postseason, the Jets emphatically showed they belong with their biggest playoff victory and their first postseason shutout. Chad Pennington, the sparkplug of their turnaround, threw for three touchdowns, LaMont Jordan ran for two and the defense had Peyton Manning and the Colts off-stride from the outset.

"I am so proud of my teammates to see in every one of them that they are not complacent," Pennington said. "To me, it's special when you're able to step in the huddle and see the intensity and focus in the eyes of your teammates."

New York (10-7) began the season 1-4, but won seven of its last nine to storm to the AFC East title on the final day of the season. The surge continued against the wild-card Colts (10-7).

"This is a breath of fresh air, but it is only the first win on a long road," Wayne Chrebet said.

The Jets will be at either Oakland or Tennessee next weekend. It was their first postseason victory since 1998, when they made it to the AFC championship game, and the score matched the last playoff game at the Meadowlands, when the Giants beat Minnesota for the 2000 NFC title.

The only more lopsided shutout win in NFL postseason history was Chicago's 73-0 victory over Washington for the 1940 title.

This was the first NFL playoff game featuring two black head coaches. The Colts' Tony Dungy and the Jets' Edwards, longtime friends, are the only black head coaches in the league. Edwards spent five seasons as Dungy's top assistant in Tampa before becoming the Jets' coach in 2001.

The student came out on top of the mentor because his offense was unstoppable, his defense stingy and his special teams dominant.

"They played awfully well and made us look awfully bad," said Dungy, who took Indianapolis from 6-10 to 10-6 in his first season after being fired by the Bucs.

On the Jets' fifth offensive play, Pennington's screen pass floated into Richie Anderson's hands and he rambled down the left side for a 56-yard score. The touchdown was the longest of his 10-year career, the longest this season for the Jets and the longest scoring play from scrimmage in their playoff history.

John Hall made one from the same spot early in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.

Troy Walters then fumbled the kickoff and Ray Mickens pounced on it at the Indianapolis 39. Jordan eventually swept left from the 1 for a 17-point lead.

It became 24-0 with 37 seconds remaining in the first half when Pennington rolled out and found Santana Moss alone in the right corner of the end zone. Moss grabbed the high throw and barely got both feet in-bounds.

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