January 6, 2012

2002: Jets Beat Raiders with Late FG to Secure Playoff Spot

Both teams meeting at Oakland’s Network Associates Coliseum on January 6, 2002 had something on the line in what was the final game of the 2001 NFL season. For the Oakland Raiders, under Head Coach Jon Gruden, it was to stop the slide after two tough losses and gain a first round bye in the playoffs. As for the visiting New York Jets, also coming off of a difficult loss to the Bills the week before, it meant making the playoffs altogether.

Under first-year Head Coach Herman Edwards, the Jets were 9-6 and had problems on offense. 38-year-old veteran QB Vinny Testaverde was talented if erratic and clashed with offensive coordinator Paul Hackett, in whose version of the West Coast offense he was not the best fit. The line protected him well, however, and RB Curtis Martin was one of the league’s best rushers. The defense was poor against the run but had a breakout season from second-year DE John Abraham, who accumulated 13 sacks and earned consensus first-team All-Pro honors. New York was behind the Dolphins and Patriots in the AFC East.

Oakland had gotten off to a 6-1 start but was now 10-5, assured of a division title but dropping on the postseason seeding chart. Gruden’s West Coast offense was well operated by QB Rich Gannon, a journeyman before coming to the Raiders. Tough but small (5’10”, 190) RB Charlie Garner was outstanding as both a runner from scrimmage and receiver, especially valuable with the power-running Tyrone Wheatley battling injuries. The wide receiving corps of 39-year-old Jerry Rice and 35-year-old Tim Brown was long on both experience and talent. The defense was tough against the pass but had difficulty defending the run. A further wrinkle coming into the contest against the Jets was that PK Sebastian Janikowski was out with a foot injury and the club had just picked up veteran Brad Daluiso, who had spent eight seasons with the Giants before being cut, to take his place.

The Jets scored in the opening minute of the game as Testaverde connected with WR Laveranues Coles on a screen pass that went for a 40-yard touchdown – New York’s longest pass play of the year. Oakland responded with a Daluiso field goal from 23 yards and it was 7-3 following one quarter of play.

Wheatley put the Raiders in front with a three-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but Daluiso’s extra point attempt hit the upright and the score stayed at 9-7. Late in the first half, safety Chris Hayes blocked Shane Lechler’s punt at the goal line that was picked up by LB Jason Glenn for a touchdown.

The first half scoring wasn’t over yet. With 57 seconds to go in the second quarter, Gannon passed to TE Roland Williams for an 18-yard touchdown. The conversion was successful this time and Oakland led the back-and-forth contest by a score of 16-14 at the half.

It was 19-14 in the third quarter when Daluiso booted a 44-yard field goal, but the Jets retook the lead at 21-19 thanks to a 46-yard touchdown run by RB LaMont Jordan. Daluiso, who missed a field goal attempt during the game as well as the one extra point, kicked a 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. With 3:12 left to play, the Raiders had the ball and a one-point lead, but the offense couldn’t sustain a drive.

Getting one last chance, the Jets drove to the Oakland 35 thanks to four passes, including a 15-yard completion on a third down play to WR Kevin Swayne. From there, John Hall (pictured at top) kicked a season-high 53-yard field goal with just under a minute to play. The Raiders had one last opportunity but turned the ball over on downs and New York came away with a 24-22 win and a spot in the playoffs.

The Raiders outgained the Jets (337 yards to 302) and had more first downs (17 to 14). New York turned the ball over three times while Oakland suffered no turnovers. In virtually every statistical category, the Raiders had the advantage, but their inconsistency on offense and the ability of the Jets to make big plays (most notably on special teams) gave New York the win.

The game-winning field goal was particularly satisfying for John Hall as it made up for two misses in a contest against Detroit in 2000 that contributed to a loss and cost the Jets a playoff spot.

Vinny Testaverde completed 18 of 29 passes for 230 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Laveranues Coles (pictured below) had a big day with 5 catches for 111 yards and a TD. WR Wayne Chrebet also had 5 receptions that totaled 83 yards. Curtis Martin was held to 50 yards on 16 carries while LaMont Jordan carried the ball just once for the 46-yard score.

For the Raiders, Rich Gannon was successful on 23 of 38 throws for 224 yards and a TD without any intercepted. Charlie Garner ran the ball 19 times for 84 yards and caught 5 passes for 31 more. Tyrone Wheatley contributed 28 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries. Tim Brown had 6 pass receptions for 57 yards and Jerry Rice gained a team-high 58 yards on his three catches.

As it worked out, the two teams met again at the same venue in the Wild Card round of the playoffs the following week. The Raiders got their revenge with a 38-24 win, but lost to the upstart New England Patriots in a snowy overtime game the next week. The two clubs were in the postseason again following the 2002 season, both as division champs (although New York’s 9-7 record was actually less than their 10-6 wild card tally of ’01). Oakland once again defeated the Jets by a convincing score of 30-10 in the Divisional playoff on the way this time to an AFC title and loss in the Super Bowl.

The season-ending game against the Jets marked the end of the road for Brad Daluiso’s NFL career. Sebastian Janikowski was active for the playoffs and kicked three field goals – two from over forty yards – in the postseason rematch of the teams. John Hall played one more year with the Jets, putting together an identical 24-of-31 field goal tally as he had in ’01, before moving on to the Washington Redskins.