The flashlight was brighter than the star.
Wayne Chrebet upstaged former teammate Keyshawn Johnson on Sunday, catching an 18-yard touchdown pass from running back Curtis Martin with 52 seconds remaining to give the New York Jets a 21-17 victory over Tampa Bay.
Johnson was a frequent critic of Chrebet when both were with the Jets and even wrote about it in the book Just Give Me the Damn Ball. Johnson disrespected Chrebet again in the week leading to the game matching 3-0 teams.
The Buccaneers receiver also likened his former teammate to a flashlight and himself to a star. Chrebet didn’t respond before the game, and he said the winning catch wasn’t a message for Johnson, either.
“It’s not about that, guys. You’re losing sight of what’s important here,” Chrebet said.
“The New York Jets are 4-0. We haven’t been in this situation in, I don’t know — 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.”
Digging Deep to Win
Johnson, traded to the Bucs for a pair of first-round draft picks in April, caught only one pass for 1 yard. And for the third time in their four games, the Jets came back to win after trailing in the fourth quarter.
“They dug deep. They have the heart to continue to fight back,” Johnson said of his old team. “They did the job. What more are you going to say?”
Vinny Testaverde, playing for the first time in eight years in the city where he spent the first six seasons of his NFL career, bounced back from throwing three interceptions to get the Jets in the end zone twice in the final two minutes.
Victor Green recovered Mike Alstott’s fumble at the Tampa Bay 24 to set up the winning score, two plays after Testaverde’s 6-yard TD pass to Martin and a 2-point conversion pass made it 17-14.
Martin took a handoff from Testaverde and looked like he was going to sweep right end before pulling up and throwing to a wide-open Chrebet in the back of the end zone.
“Curtis isn’t the best passer in the world,” Chrebet said. “The first time we ran it [in practice] was pretty ugly. I was standing there waiting for it. It was like a duck … I said: ‘Please, just give him enough time to get the ball off, and he hit me.’”
Testaverde Bounces Back
It looked like the Bucs would be able to win without a big offensive day from Johnson as Jacquez Green set up a field goal with a 75-yard reception and Alstott and Warrick Dunn keyed a running game that produced 118 yards.
Ronde Barber scored on a 37-yard interception return and Shaun King threw a 3-yard TD pass to Dave Moore for Tampa Bay, which had a five-game regular-season winning streak stopped one shy of the franchise record.
The Jets, unbeaten after four games for the first time since 1966, extended the NFL’s longest regular-season winning streak to eight games. They were held to a pair of first-half field goals by John Hall until Testaverde returned from being benched for one series.
Testaverde, 16-2 as a Jets starter, spent six losing seasons in Tampa Bay, compiling a 24-48 record and throwing 102 interceptions as a starter before signing with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent after the 1992 season.
“Coming back here really had no bearing on how I felt about the game,” Testaverde said. “The important thing is that I was coming here to win a ballgame.”
On Sunday, he completed 22 of 42 passes for 181 yards, and the Bucs didn’t add to their NFL-leading sack total until Ray Lucas replaced Testaverde for one series in the fourth quarter.
Martin had 90 yards rushing on 18 carries and caught seven passes for 27 yards. Chrebet, with whom Johnson has had a running feud since 1996, finished with two receptions for 32 yards.
Shovel Pass to Keyshawn
Johnson’s only catch came on a shovel pass the Bucs ran late in the second quarter. He said heavy rain, which began about an hour before kickoff and ended during the first half, affected Tampa Bay’s offensive plan.
“I can’t explain it,” he said of having just one reception. “How can I explain it. That was the plays we called. We ran the ball. We didn’t throw the ball all that well. I think the rain took us out of our passig game a little bit.”
The late collapse was uncharacteristic of the Tampa Bay defense, which was dominant in helping the Bucs win their first three games. The Jets defense, meanwhile, proved itself by intercepting two passes and forcing two fumbles, the last on Mo Lewis’ sack on the Bucs’ last possession.