Tired of allowing the NFL's weaklings to salvage their seasons, the New York Jets showed their power Sunday to the Carolina Panthers. And to the rest of the league.
In a superb display of dominating offense and defense, the Jets (8-4) beat the struggling Panthers, 48-21, to retain a share of first place with Miami in the AFC East. New York won its fifth consecutive home game by responding to the coaching staff's warnings not to overlook the opponent the way it did in losses to Baltimore, St. Louis and Indianapolis.
"It's something we had to do in our quest to be a good team," said Curtis Martin, who had touchdown runs of one and 60 yards. "The best way I can describe it is having killer instinct."
Martin gained 107 yards and went over 1,000 for the year--the fourth time in as many NFL seasons he has done that. The expensive free agent signed away from New England in the off-season has 1,039 yards rushing.
"We showed ourselves we can do it against these teams, too," said Wayne Chrebet, who had seven receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns. "We're coming down to the last quarter of the season and that's what you have to do. This is the first sign we're serious about what we have to do."
The Jet offense showed it meant business against the Panthers' 28th-ranked defense. The Jets had 456 total yards, Keyshawn Johnson scored a touchdown on an end-around and John Hall kicked four field goals.
"This is an explosive offense," Chrebet said. "When the line is blocking like that, we can do whatever we want."
The New York defense also dominated Carolina (2-10), allowing 216 yards--many with the game decided--and getting five sacks.