HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - While the New York masses panic over a season-opening loss that easily could have been a victory, Jets coaches and players searched for positive signs.
Coach Herman Edwards found a few Friday, though he wasn't dismissing the mistakes that handed the Redskins a last-minute 16-13 win.
Edwards emphasized how the Jets seized momentum in the second half and had the ball in a tie in the fourth with an opportunity to go ahead. Instead, they self-destructed on a pair of short-yardage runs, then the defense let the Redskins drive for the winning field goal.
"We wanted to keep the emotion out of it," Edwards said. "We withstood the onslaught: opening day and balloons and fireworks and the crowd. In the fourth quarter, it's 13-13 and it's really quiet and the momentum has swung.
"We've got to convert on third down."
Among the most worrisome elements of the loss was the Jets running only 47 plays to 61 for Washington. When New York got off to a 1-4 start in 2002, the team not only couldn't sustain drives by converting third downs, but it couldn't stop the opposition.
While Washington wasn't potent on offense, it put together 12- and 14-play drives for scores in the first half. And the Redskins came up with a six-play, 47-yard march to John Hall's 33-yard kick that won it with five seconds left.
Edwards hasn't forgotten how inept the Jets were early last season in the areas that hurt them at times in Washington.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" Edwards said. "Last year, we had 47, but Buffalo had 75. At least we kept it down to 61. They had the time of possession (34:46-25:14).
"It shows you turnovers are such a critical factor."
The Jets had an interception and fumble recovery, though they managed only two field goals from the takeaways.
RATINGS: Thursday night's game drew better ratings for ABC than last season's Monday night games. The game drew a 12.9 rating and a 22 share, and was seen in 19.2-million homes. ABC's Monday night games averaged 17.1-million homes for an 11.4 rating last season. The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, and the share is the percentage of televisions in use tuned to a program.
Blackwell released again
The Jets waived former South Florida quarterback Marquel Blackwell.
Blackwell was with the Jets in training camp and played well in the final preseason game. But he was cut Aug. 30, then re-signed on Wednesday to be third QB
Edwards said the team plans to re-sign veteran Jamie Martin. BENGALS: A judge threw out a lawsuit against the team and the league that accused it of violating the team's lease for the taxpayer-financed stadium with their poor play. Judge Charles J. Kubicki Jr. of Hamilton County Common Pleas Court granted the request that the Bengals and the league argued three months ago to dismiss the lawsuit by county commissioner Todd Portune.
COLTS: Linebacker Rob Morris, who had minor knee surgery nearly a month ago, is expected to start Sunday against Cleveland. Receiver Brandon Stokley will miss the game with a pulled hamstring.
DOLPHINS: Receiver Oronde Gadsden accepted an injury settlement, a move that may allow him to rejoin the team later this season. Gadsden, who suffered an ankle injury July 31, becomes a free agent and can re-sign with Miami after the ninth game of the season. ... Former Florida linebacker Bam Hardmon, who suffered a left knee injury, also accepted an injury settlement.
LIONS: Running back Avon Cobourne was held out of practice and is questionable for Sunday's opener against Arizona. Cobourne has nursed hamstring and shoulder injuries during training camp.
ROSE BOWL STUDY: The league agreed to pay about $500,000 to study the environmental impact of refurbishing the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. to host an NFL team. The Pasadena City Council decides Monday whether to accept.
ARENA FOOTBALL: The Storm will hold cheerleader auditions Oct. 11 for the 2004 season at the Sun Dome in Tampa. Registration will be at 9 a.m., with auditions at 10. Applicants must pay $20 and be 18 or older. Identification and a recent photograph are required. Applicants should wear a two-piece dance outfit and rubber-soled shoes. Applicants should use Entrance 2.
- Times staff writer Frank Pastor contributed to this report.