Saturday, August 14, 2004

Saints 23, Jets 13

By Mary Foster
The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS - J.T. O'Sullivan got what he wanted - game time.

The New Orleans Saints' third-string quarterback completed 10 of 13 passes for 141 yards as the New Orleans Saints' reserves beat the New York Jets' backups 23-13 Friday night.

O'Sullivan, who played for Division I-AA California-Davis and was the second-highest ranked quarterback in NFL Europe this spring, made his only other NFL appearance in a 2002 preseason game.

"Anybody has a chance around here," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "J.T.'s a gamer. When he gets in a game he plays pretty well."

Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks was in street clothes on the sideline. He returned to practice this week, but his strained quadriceps was still tender, and team officials did not want to risk further damage. Backup Todd Bouman, who was hobbled by a pulled stomach muscle this week, started.

Bouman struggled, but put the Saints up 7-3 late in the first-quarter with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Pathon. John Carney stretched New Orleans' lead to 10-6 at halftime with a 36-yard field goal.

Bouman completed 9 of 16 passes for 59 yards, one touchdown, one interception and was sacked once.

The Jets used regular QB Chad Pennington for one series. He ran 10 plays, went 3-for-5 for 20 yards, and got the Jets close enough for a 22-yard field goal by Doug Brien and a 3-0 lead.

"We did some good things," Pennington said. "We ran the ball effectively and made some big plays in the passing game, but we didn't finish it off in the red zone. But that will come."

Coach Herman Edwards didn't want to risk his starting quarterback more than that. A year ago, he lost Pennington in the third preseason game with a broken left wrist. Pennington returned midway in the season, but the Jets missed the playoffs for the first time in three years.

Backup QB Brooks Bollinger had his share of problems. A 29-yard completion to Matt Domininguez that would have set up the Jets at the New Orleans 5 was nullified by a penalty. New York was in an illegal formation - a call made against both teams twice.

"You can't have those mistakes early and I think those cost us the game," Bollinger said. "Those hurt us pretty bad and New Orleans was able to convert on them."

Bollinger, who was 6-of-11 for 85 yards and was sacked three times, got the Jets in field goal range with a minute left in the first half. Brien hit a 27-yarder.

In the third quarter, working against the Saints' second defense, Bollinger led New York on a 58-yard drive fueled by 38-yard and 14-yard receptions by rookie Jerricho Cotchery. LaMont Jordan ran it the final 3 yards for a 13-10 lead.

Saints running back Deuce McAllister made a cameo appearance in the first two series, carrying the ball twice. Aaron Stecker, who is in a three-way battle with Ki-Jana Carter and Lamar Smith for the backup running back spot, had 11 carries for 42 yards.

"From the first day I came in here, they told me they were going to use me to complement Deuce," Stecker said. "So I'm just going to go out there and show what I can do."

In the third quarter, it looked like Jason Glenn picked off O'Sullivan's pass at the goal line, but a pass interference call gave the Saints the ball on the 1. Two plays later, Smith ran it in, putting New Orleans up 17-13.

Rob Hart put the Saints up 20-13 with a 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. His 26-yarder closed out the scoring.

Jets first-round pick Jon Vilma played well, if briefly. In about one quarter, the linebacker had four tackles and two assists, including a tackle of McAllister for a 2-yard loss.

"I had a pretty good evening," Vilma said. "I wish I could have gone a little longer. I was just excited to be out there."

Fred Booker, a free agent who signed with the Saints on Wednesday, returned an interception 57 yards to set up the Saints' final field goal.

Notes: The Saints beat the Jets 22-17 in a preseason game a year ago at the Meadowlands. ... New York is 4-4 in exhibitions against New Orleans, but has won five of nine games during the regular season. ... New Orleans coach Jim Haslett played for the Jets as a linebacker in 1987, his last year as an NFL player.

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