American Football: Pennington upstages McNair to inspire Jets

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The Independent Online

All the pre-match attention was focused on the injured Tennessee quarterback, Steve McNair, but it was Chad Pennington who stole the show on Monday night, leading the New York Jets to a 24-17 win over the Titans.

The loss, Tennessee's first in two months, left the Titans at won nine, lost three, tied with Indianapolis in the AFC South Division. The Jets improved their record to five and seven.

Pennington threw for 231 yards and two second-half touchdowns. He was intercepted twice in the first half but to no cost. After the break, the Jets quarterback made eight out of eight passes for 134 yards. "I just tried to get it to my guys, let them make plays," said Pennington, who sat out the first two months of the season with a broken left wrist. "There's no quit in this team. We have great character."

McNair, who was struggling with a calf strain, was unusually erratic, being picked off twice for the first time this season. He did, however, still make 21 completed passes out of 35 for 272 yards and two touchdowns. In the first quarter he found Justin McCareins for a 59-yard score but the lead was short-lived, the Jets scoring on their next possession when Curtis Martin ran six yards to make it 7-7.

Late in the first half, New York drove deep into Titans territory to allow their kicker, Doug Brien, to put his team 10-7 up but Gary Anderson brought Tennessee level with a 35-yard field goal in the third period.

Pennington then found Kevin Swayne with a 27-yard pass to make it 17-10. Two plays later, Pennington threw to Curtis Conway to give New York a 24-10 lead. McNair then drove the Titans 73 yards to New York's three-yard line but Tennessee failed to score. On their next possession, McNair found Derrick Mason from eight yards but it was too little, too late.