By SCOTT PURKS
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 25, 2000
TAMPA -- True story: New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet gets utterly disrespected all week in the newspapers and ends up making the winning catch with a minute remaining.
Even Chrebet could barely believe it.
"I don't know how I did it and I'm not going to question it," he said. "I was lying on the ground thinking there's no way we got the ball back and there's no way I'm lying here holding the winning touchdown. It was disbelief. It was surreal."
It was a comeback victory, 21-17 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The unlikely turn of events started with the Jets on their 36, trailing 17-6 and with five minutes left.
From there, former Buc Vinny Testaverde, benched on the Jets' previous series, completed 8 of 9 passes, the last one a 6-yard touchdown to Curtis Martin.
On the ensuing Tampa Bay possession, Mike Alstott fumbled on the second handoff. The Jets recovered on Tampa Bay's 24, setting up "The Play."
The play was a halfback pass from Martin that sailed into Chrebet's outstretched arms in the end zone corner.
Chrebet couldn't have written a better script.
Last week, Chrebet's former teammate, Tampa Bay wideout Keyshawn Johnson, was widely quoted on what he thought of the comparison between himself and Chrebet:
"To me, it's like comparing Allen Iverson to Michael Jordan. I'm really good friends with Allen Iverson, but I just don't think you can or should do that (make that comparison). When people try doing that with us, I just look at (Chrebet) as the Rudy guy from that Notre Dame movie, and it's no comparison."
For the record, Johnson had one catch for 1 yard on Sunday, but afterward Chrebet kept it close to the vest.
"I believe in being seen and not heard," he said. "I'm just going to stick to that. ... (People) are losing sight of what's important here. The New York Jets are 4-0. We haven't been in this situation, I don't know if ever. This is a big 180; we used to lose games like this. I think that's so important.
"I can stand up here and say things and point fingers, but I'm bigger than that."
In the end, the only funny thing about the Jets' winning play was that Martin hadn't executed it well in practice.
"Let's just say that Curtis isn't the best passer in the world," Chrebet said. "He was throwing lame ducks out there. But today he put it there. He did it when he had to do it, and that's all that counts."
Before the big catch, Chrebet had one reception for 16 yards, but Jets such as strong safety Chris Hayes said they never doubted.
"Wayne is a great player," Hayes said. "I know a lot of guys don't give him the respect he deserves, but I'm a Wayne Chrebet believer. He gets it done; I don't care what anybody says."