Pat Leahy kicked a 26-yard field goal with 6:38 left in overtime to lead the New York Jets to a 27-24 victory over the Los Angeles Rams today.
Cornerback Jerry Holmes, who earlier scored on a 57-yard run after a blocked field goal, set up the winning drive. He intercepted Vince Ferragamo's pass at his 20 and returned it to midfield.
Quarterback Richard Todd, who completed 37 of 50 passes for 446 yards and two touchdowns, completed two key passes during the drive. He threw 10 yards to Derrick Gaffney, then completed a 19-yarder to Scott Dierking on third and three from the Rams' 43.
After running backs Dierking and Dwayne Crutchfield helped move the ball inside the Rams' 10, New York Coach Joe Walton sent in Leahy. Both teams are 2-2.
"We've been struggling the last couple of weeks and maybe this is what we need to get us going," said Holmes, who signed with the USFL's expansion franchise in Pittsburgh for the 1984 season. "This is the type of game we needed to win--a tough game against a tough team.
"I was hoping they'd throw it my way. Our coaches teach us to look for the big play and I was hoping I could make it."
The four-hour game at Shea Stadium included a near free-for-all in the third quarter and an injury to New York's Freeman McNeil, the league's leading rusher last year. He incurred a separated shoulder in the first half and will be lost for six to eight weeks.
The Rams had taken a 17-14 lead on a field goal by Chuck Nelson that followed a fight on the field by several players. The melee started when defensive end Mark Gastineau sacked Ferragamo and went into his customary celebratory dance. Gastineau was shoved from behind by Rams tackle Jackie Slater, beginning a bench-clearing brawl that held up the game for nearly five minutes.
The Rams tied the score, 24-24, with 32 seconds left in regulation on Ferragamo's two-yard pass to Mike Guman. The play completed a 69-yard, 11-play drive that Ferragamo kept going with passes of 19 and 21 yards to George Farmer.
New York had taken a 21-17 lead on Todd's second touchdown pass of the game to Wesley Walker, a 42-yarder with 1:10 left in the third period.
Leahy's field goal with 4:41 to go in regulation gave New York a 24-17 lead.
Kirk Collins had two interceptions in the first half and the Rams scored after both. Collins intercepted a pass at the Rams' 13 on New York's opening drive, and two plays later rookie Eric Dickerson went around the left side 85 yards for the score.
The Jets tied later in the period on Todd's 15-yard pass to Walker that completed an 80-yard drive in four plays. But Collins intercepted a sideline pass late in the quarter and returned it 58 yards to the 12. Dickerson, who finished with 192 yards on 28 carries, scored from the five.
Midway through the second period, Kenny Neil blocked a field-goal attempt by Nelson. The ball fell into Holmes' hands behind the kicker, and Holmes went 57 yards to tie the score at 14-14.