Jets 44, Chargers 13
-- Maybe the New York Jets aren't that bad, after all. And maybe the San Diego Chargers aren't quite that good.
At any rate, the reeling Jets got better in a hurry with a 44-13 rout today of the AFC-leading Chargers, who came dressed in their powder-blue throwback jerseys and left looking like powder puffs after getting worked over all afternoon.
The stunning victory came a week after the Jets (3-5) blew an 18-point lead in a 24-21 loss to Cleveland, prompting defensive end John Abraham to harshly criticize the conservative play-calling.
"Just getting a win was good for us, just to put a lot of negatives behind us," Abraham said. "We're trying to build a season now. A lot of people put us in the dirt right now. We know we're a better team than we've shown."
Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin and Santana Moss provided the big scoring plays early. With former Maryland star LaMont Jordan's 61-yard touchdown run with 1 minute 49 seconds left, the Jets scored their most points since a 48-21 win over Carolina on Nov. 29, 1998.
The Chargers (6-2), who came in tied with Green Bay for the NFL's best record, never were in this game, despite coming off a bye week that allowed players such as Junior Seau and Marcellus Wiley to get healthy.
"We didn't come out here ready to play," said LaDainian Tomlinson, the NFL's third-leading running back who was held to just 60 yards on 12 carries. "We took these guys for granted."
That didn't sit well with Coach Marty Schottenheimer, who admitted neither he nor the players did a good job of preparing.
"The performance we put on today was unacceptable," Schottenheimer said. "I didn't get the message across, but I made it very clear throughout the week that this was a very formidable football team."
Pennington threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and Moss had a 52-yard punt return for a touchdown, his second in as many weeks as the Jets built a 21-0 lead. Martin scored once.