The Chiefs were the first team that Chad Pennington started against for the New York Jets. Despite losing, a solid starter was found.
This is the 39th all-time meeting between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets, postseason included. The Chiefs lead the series 19-18-1 and have won the last two meetings, both at Kansas City. The Jets have played well recently against the Chiefs at home, winning four straight and five of their last six meetings going back to 2001.
Entering this season, the New York Jets were hoping one of their young quarterbacks, Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg, would step up and show the team they can be developed to lead the team for future seasons. However, Josh McCown has done well in his time behind center, providing little chance for either quarterback to get the opportunity to play.
Seeing the Chiefs enter MetLife Stadium on Sunday reminds me of another time in New York Jets history where they were hoping their young quarterback would show he could lead the franchise.
On October 6, 2002, Kansas City entered the Meadowlands to take on the New York Jets.
The New York Jets entered the game on a three-game losing streak, having been outscored 102-13 in losses to the Patriots and at Miami and Jacksonville.
Head coach Herm Edwards had decided to make a change at quarterback. During the New York Jets’ loss to the Jaguars the week before, Edwards replaced Vinny Testaverde with Chad Pennington after Testaverde injured his shoulder on a hit by Marcus Stroud early in the first quarter. Pennington finished the game 21-for-34 for 281 yards, but was unable to get the Jets in the end zone for the second straight game.
Against the Chiefs, Pennington made his first NFL start. Taken by the New York Jets with the 18th overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft, Pennington had played in just six NFL games, all in a relief role of Testaverde.
The Chiefs entered with a record of 2-2 but had one of the best offenses in the NFL, averaging 35.5 PPG. Combine the Chiefs’ explosive offense with the Jets’ inability to score and not many gave the Jets much of a chance to win.
Right off the bat, Pennington served notice that the New York Jets offense was back on track. Pennington led the Jets on two first-half TD drives including a 2-yard TD pass to Anthony Becht with seven seconds left in the first half. Pennington’s TD pass gave the Jets a 15-12 lead.
The two teams exchanged punches in the second half with the New York Jets taking leads only to have the Chiefs tie the game. Pennington continued to inspire the Jets offense, leading them into Chiefs territory on all three of his second-half drives.
After John Hall missed a 51-yard field goal on the Jets first drive of the second half, Pennington led the Jets on a pair of long scoring drives. He connected with Santana Moss on a brilliant 27-yard TD pass to cap a 12-play drive and give the New York Jets a 22-15 lead.
After the Chiefs tied the game, Pennington led them on another long drive, this one taking 14 plays and covering 61 yards. John Hall’s 25-yard field goal capped the drive and gave the New York Jets a 25-22 lead with just 2:54 left.
It was now up to the New York Jets defense to step up and clinch the win. However, facing a dominant Chiefs offense wasn’t all the Jets had to overcome. Entering the game, the New York Jets defense was awful so far in the 2002 season, having allowed an average of 398 yards per game. Not much had changed against the Chiefs, as they had allowed 425 yards so far.
Trent Green led the Chiefs down the field, converting two third downs to move Kansas City to the New York Jets 30-yard line with 52 remaining. Two plays later, Green connected with Priest Holmes for a 19-yard TD with just 34 seconds left to give the lead back to Kansas City.
The New York Jets and Pennington had just 17 seconds with two timeouts to move the ball down the field for a TD, but were unable to do so. When the clock expired, the Jets had lost their fourth straight game.
Despite the loss, the New York Jets had discovered a new young quarterback to give them hope for the rest of the season. Pennington finished 22-for-29 on the day for 237 yards and two touchdowns. The offense looked alive and Pennington looked like he had chemistry with his wide receivers.
Although the New York Jets did not win against the Chiefs, this game turned their season around. After losing to Kansas City, the Jets won eight of their final 11 games to finish the season 9-7.
In the final week of the season, the Patriots’ victory over the Miami Dolphins helped provide a way for the New York Jets to win just their second division title in franchise history. Pennington threw for four touchdowns in a 42-17 romp of the Green Bay Packers to send New York Jets fans home happy.
The next week, the New York Jets defeated Peyton Manning and the Colts 41-0 in the last home playoff game in team history. Their season ended the next week against the eventual AFC Champion Raiders with a 30-10 loss.
Despite losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in his first start, Chad Pennington helped turn the New York Jets season around. Perhaps another young Jets QB can be born this Sunday against the Chiefs.