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Recap | Box Score | This Week's Scoreboard
New England 30, New York 28
Posted: Sunday September 12, 1999 06:26 PM
New England Patriots
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New York Jets
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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The New York Jets lost Pro Bowl quarterback Vinny Testaverde for the season, and their opener in dramatic fashion.

Adam Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal with three seconds left as the New England Patriots escaped with a 30-28 victory over the Jets.

New York harbored Super Bowl dreams this season after winning the AFC East last year, but those dreams may have come to a crashing halt when Testaverde ruptured his left Achilles tendon in the second quarter. He injured himself after lunging toward a fumble by New York's Curtis Martin fumble with 7:12 left in the second quarter. He was not hit on the play.

"He's irreplaceable," Jets Pro Bowl receiver Keyshawn Johnson said. "When you lose a guy like that on your team ... I don't know what the hell you're going to do. Everyone just needs to dig down."

"Vinny is an important part of what what we do, but I don't buy that step-up (crap)," New York linebacker Bryan Cox said. "I play hard every week. You want to get in a position to win at the end of the game and we did that today."

The Jets rallied from an 11-point deficit on a touchdown pass from punter Tom Tupa and an interception return for a score by Cox, but they missed the ensuing two-point conversion both times.

Drew Bledsoe completed 21-of-30 passes for 340 yards for the Patriots, who recovered a fumble in the end zone and got a TD run from Terry Allen in a two-minute span of the third quarter.

Cornerback Ty Law and linebacker Chris Slade combined to set up the game-winning field goal. Law deflected Rick Mirer's pass intended for Johnson and Slade intercepted it at the Jets 49-yard line.

"We were trying to use up the clock and move the ball," said Mirer, who relieved Tupa in the fourth quarter. "And the ball got knocked up in the air. Bad things happen when the ball gets tipped into the air."

Bledsoe, who had his first career 300-yard day against the Jets, then led a 10-play, 44-yard drive in 3 1/2 minutes capped by Vinatieri's third short field goal of the day.

"We tried to seize the game but they wouldn't go down," said Patriots coach Pete Carroll. "You have to give them a great deal of credit. It's too bad somebody had to lose a game like this.

"It was important for us to get off to a good start. I'm very pleased. I'm very happy to see us come together and finish off a game like this."

The Patriots improved to 2-3 against Bill Parcells, their former coach.

"They played very well today," Parcells said. "They took advantage of our mistakes. I pretty much anticipated it to be a tough game like this. I expect those to continue."

Bryan Cox had given New York a 28-27 lead on a 27-yard interception return for a score 5:26 into the fourth. It was his fourth career interception and first TD.

The Jets went for two points to go ahead by a field goal but Mirer's pass went through tight end Eric Green.

Tupa, who replaced Testaverde and played through the third quarter, threw a seven-yard strike to backup tight end Fred Baxter with 4:53 left to get the Jets within 27-22.

On the first possession of the fourth quarter, Parcells decided to fake a 31-yard field goal, but Tupa was stopped short at the Patriots' 14. Parcells challenged the instant replay, but the call was upheld.

After a wild second quarter, the Patriots scored 17 consecutive points for a 27-16 lead. Defensive end Willie McGinest recovered a fumble in the end zone, Terry Allen scored on a 22-yard run and Vinatieri kicked a 21-yard field goal.

Steve Israel set up McGinest's TD by blitzing from his corner position and forcing Tupa to fumble on the third play of the second half. Israel also intercepted a pass by Mirer at the Patriots' 2 with 11:26 to play.

"Our defense really stepped up and turned the ball over and gave us control in really good field position," Bledsoe said.

McGinest, who had offseason groin surgery after playing only nine games last year, also had six tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble.

Tupa went 6-of-10 for 165 yards and threw a pair of TDs for the first time in seven years. He had not had a completion since 1996.

"I thought, considering everything, he did a pretty good job," Parcells said. "He hadn't been in a game for a while."

Listed as New York's fourth-string quarterback on the depth chart but second on the field today, Tupa had to play through the third quarter in order to stay in the game as the punter.

"I think it's a fair rule," Parcells said. "I said all along I would dress all 53 (players). You've got them here, why not play them?" Mirer was just 4-of-11 for 28 yards with a pair of interceptions. Third-string quarterback Ray Lucas, also a special teams performer, was inactive for today's game.

Testaverde completed 10-of-15 passes for 96 yards with a TD and interception before collapsing with 7:12 left in the second quarter. On the next play, Tupa threw a 25-yard TD pass to Johnson for a 14-10 lead.

"Before the game, I mark down plays I feel comfortable with and plays I don't feel comfortable with," he said. "I was lucky I was in a position that guys made some big plays for me. The guys were helping me out there."

The Jets went into the locker room with a 16-10 advantage when New England's Mike Bartrum snapped the ball through the end zone on a punt.

Johnson had eight catches for a career-high 194 yards. Terry Glenn countered with seven receptions for 113 yards for the Patriots.

The Jets suffered two other key injuries. Returner Leon Johnson missed most of the second half due to season-ending tears to his left anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments and Green left the game in the fourth with a neck injury.

"The NFL, if they want their athletes to be around a great deal of time, they should do something about (the artificial turf)," Green said.

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