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Pennington becomes the latest to dissect the Texans

Nov 26, 2006 - 9:50 PM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Chad Pennington rediscovered the chemistry he had with his wide receivers. It helped that the Houston Texans were on the other side of the field.

Pennington completed 24-of-31 passes for 286 yards and a touchdown and bounced back from a hard third-quarter hit to lead the New York Jets to a 26-11 victory over the Houston Texans.

Receivers Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery accounted for 16 of the catches for 221 yards.

"As Chad goes, we go," Coles said. "He came out and did an excellent job of giving us opportunities to make plays."

Earlier this week, Pennington admitted he needed to play better if the Jets (6-5) were to make a playoff run. After beginning the season with back-to-back 300-yard games, Pennington managed to pass for more than 200 yards just once. Over the last six games, he had just four touchdown passes with nine interceptions.

Pennington rectified his problems on Sunday, although the Texans (3-8) entered the game ranked 25th in pass defense. They yielded 340 passing yards to J.P. Losman last week in a 24-21 loss to Buffalo.

"All week long, we learned that he (Pennington) could pick zones apart," Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "That's what he did today."

Coles and Cotchery got the best of Robinson and fellow cornerback Demarcus Faggins. Coles caught nine passes for 111 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and Cotchery had seven receptions for 110 yards.

Pennington gave his teammates and Jets fans a scare when he was knocked to the turf after a hit by Texans rookie defensive end Mario Williams in the third quarter. There was concern that the oft-injured quarterback had landed on his shoulder and was hurt again, but he merely had the wind knocked out of him.

"Thirty seconds felt like an hour. I was happy to be breathing again," said Pennington, who underwent two surgeries on his shoulder in the last two years.

Upon getting up, Pennington pumped his fists to the crowd, drawing a loud ovation. After sitting out one play, Pennington returned to the game and put any questions about his slump to rest.

"It's part of being a professional. That's what pro means," Pennington said. "You're going to have ups and downs, but can you persevere?"

Mike Nugent tied a career high with four field goals for the Jets, who play their remaining five games against teams that are currently below .500.

Nugent connected from 23, 34 and a career-best 54 yards in the first half to help the Jets take a 9-3 lead at intermission and added a 40-yarder in the fourth quarter, capping a drive that took almost eight minutes off the clock.

"I was confident in myself. If I can show the coaches I have confidence in myself, they will have confidence in me," Nugent said.

His 54-yarder was one yard shy of the club record held by Pat Leahy and John Hall.

Houston's David Carr, who leads the NFL in completion percentage, was 28-of-39 for 229 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Andre Johnson accounted for the lone touchdown on a three-yard throw from Carr with 3:54 remaining.

"It was too little, too late," Carr admitted. "We have to find a way to make plays before the games come to that."

The Jets pulled away with a dominating third quarter, which included a 91-yard drive. Pennington completed all five of his passes for 89 yards, including the score to Coles.

Safety Kerry Rhodes soon intercepted a pass by Carr and returned it nine yards to the Houston 26. Pennington found Cotchery for an 18-yard gain and Cedric Houston ran in from one yard out to increase the lead to 23-3 with 3:33 left in the period.

"We had a horrible third quarter," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We made some mistakes that were inexcusable."

The Texans managed just 25 rushing yards on 14 carries. That made it easy for the Jets to take aim at Carr, who was sacked four times.

The Jets did not turn the ball over and were flagged for just one penalty, which came in the fourth quarter when the outcome was already decided.

"No turnovers and one penalty," Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "Week in and week out, that will go a long way toward us being successful."

The lone Texans score in the first half was a 47-yard field goal by Kris Brown.

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