Running back Freeman McNeil rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries and scored twice, including the deciding touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Richard Todd with 6:43 left, to lead the New York Jets to a 41-29 victory over the San Diego Chargers today.
A 64-yard kickoff return by New York's Kirk Springs set up the deciding touchdown after the first kickoff was nullified by a TV timeout.
An interception by cornerback Johnny Lynn at the New York 23-yard line with two minutes remaining preserved the victory for the Jets and Coach Joe Walton, making his NFL coaching debut. New York's Mike Augustyniak then scored an insurance touchdown from the one.
On the controversial timeout, NBC producer Larry Cirillo said the play was started over because the referee allowed the kickoff before the network gave approval. The ball was whistled dead while still in the air and it was ruled no play. Then Springs broke to the San Diego 30 with the second chance.
The Chargers amassed 488 total yards of offense to the Jets' 371. Dan Fouts of San Diego passed for 354.
The Jets, after trailing, 7-0, scored 13 points in the second quarter for 13-7 halftime lead on a 26-yard scoring pass from Todd to wide receiver Wesley Walker and field goals of 32 and 27 yards by Pat Leahy. They never again trailed.
After trailing, 27-16, early in the fourth quarter, San Diego got a 29-yard touchdown pass from Dan Fouts to wide receiver Bobby Duckworth with 8:32 left and Rolf Benirschke missed the point after. McNeil's touchdown on the 18-yard pass play made it 34-22.
One minute later, Fouts hit Charlie Joiner on a 33-yard scoring pass play to narrow it to 34-29 with 5:45 left.
A 23-yard field goal by Benirschke gave him 501 career points, eclipsing the Chargers' club record of 500 set by Lance Alworth between 1962 and 1970.