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Pennington, Jets get first road win over Bills in four years

Sep 24, 2006 - 8:18 PM ORCHARD PARK, New York (Ticker) -- Chad Pennington exorcised his demons at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Pennington threw for 183 yards and a touchdown to lead the surprising New York Jets to a 28-20 triumph over the Buffalo Bills.

The injury-plagued Pennington saw his career take a turn for the worse here in 2004, when he was hit in the right shoulder by linebacker London Fletcher after scrambling out of the pocket. Pennington missed the next three games due to a partially torn rotator cuff and after a loss to Pittsburgh in the divisional playoffs, he underwent surgery.

Pennington tore his rotator cuff again last September 25 in a loss to Jacksonville and again underwent surgery. Many questioned if Pennington could ever be effective again.

But Pennington has returned with a vengeance, throwing for 808 yards and five touchdowns in his first three games.

"After I decided to have (the second) surgery, I had a challenge, a goal," Pennington said. "I'm trying to continue to come back and be a better quarterback."

With his team trailing late in the first half Sunday, Pennington gave the Jets the lead for good with a one-yard TD pass to tight end Chris Baker, pushing the score to 14-10 with 19 seconds left in the second quarter.

Pennington completed 19-of-29 attempts, was sacked once and did not throw an interception. His favorite target was Laveranues Coles, who had a season-high 10 receptions for 78 yards.

Kevan Barlow ran for 31 yards and a TD while safety Kerry Rhodes recorded two sacks and forced two fumbles for the Jets (2-1), who won at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time since 2002.

"There's no doubt that this was a really big win for us," Pennington said. "When you get a division win on the road, I think it's very important. It builds your confidence."

Rhodes made a huge play early in the third quarter with New York holding a 14-10 advantage. Buffalo had a 1st-and-10 on its own 33 when quarterback J.P. Losman dropped back only to be sacked by Rhodes, who pried the ball loose. Linebacker Victor Hobson recovered the fumble at the 32 and raced into the end zone, giving the Jets a 21-10 lead.

"It felt really good," said Hobson, who atoned for an earlier personal foul against Losman. "I'm out there playing for my teammates and any time you're in a situation where you feel like you let them down, you want to do anything you can to come back and make up for it."

Losman went 22-for-38 for 328 yards and a touchdown with an interception. The second-year starter felt that Buffalo's three turnovers created an obstacle too difficult to overcome.

"It's tough for any team," he said. "I don't care who you are. I turned over the ball three times, so it's just not going to happen."

Buffalo star running back Willis McGahee ran for a career-high 150 yards on 26 carries. Lee Evans had 108 yards on eight receptions and fellow wide receiver Roscoe Parrish added four catches for 104 yards and a TD for the Bills (1-2), who committed their first three turnovers of the season.

"Statistics don't have a lot of meaning except takeaways and giveaways, and one of those takeaways they had ended up in our end zone," Bills coach Dick Jauron said. "It's an eight-point game at the end, so I believe that was pretty much the football game."

Despite trailing throughout the second half, Buffalo actually had a chance to tie the contest in the waning seconds. After Losman scampered for a 12-yard TD to draw Buffalo within 28-20 with 1:25 left, the Bills recovered the ensuing onside kick.

Buffalo did not get far, however, managing just seven yards on its first three plays before Losman's last-gasp pass to Josh Reed fell short.

"I'm really proud of the guys today," New York first-year coach Eric Mangini said of his team. "This is a tough place to play, and they got out early and they were aggressive and they fought back."

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