O'Brien gives Miami vise another turn in Jets' surprising win over Dolphins

November 02, 1992|By New York Times News Service

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With the New York Jet quarterback of the future, Browning Nagle, cooling his heels on the sideline because of a sprained left foot, the quarterback of the past, Ken O'Brien, had to take the controls against the Miami Dolphins here yesterday afternoon at Giants Stadium.

So, what's this talk about a youth movement?

O'Brien worked his usual magic against the Dolphins, completing 21 of 29 passes (72.4 percent) for 240 yards and three touchdowns -- he also had an interception that shouldn't have been -- to help guide the Jets to a 26-14 victory.

L O'Brien is 3-0 against the Dolphins in the past two seasons.

Toss in a career day for fullback Brad Baxter, who had 20 carries for 103 yards, a safety on a sack of quarterback Dan Marino in the end zone by defensive end Marvin Washington and a defense that played shutout ball for the first half, and it was the Jets' best winning effort of the season.

But O'Brien, 31, was the central story. Boos cascaded from the stands here just six days ago during the Jets-Bills game when O'Brien came in to replace Nagle, who went out in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury. Yesterday, cheers rained down upon him from by most of the 69,313 fans after he threw his third touchdown pass of the afternoon, a 20-yarder to receiver Rob Moore late in the second quarter.

After the game, with his right thumb heavily bandaged, and still woozy from a slight concussion he suffered late in the second quarter, O'Brien, who came into the game having passed for 20 touchdowns against Miami in his 10 pro seasons, handled the victory like a wily veteran.

"I'm really satisfied," he said. "I'm not going to sit here or jump up and down and say, 'We won, we won.' That's what we're supposed to do."

Jets coach Bruce Coslet also was impressed with O'Brien's performance.

"Kenny made some outstanding reads," said Coslet. "He's a player. That's why he's in there. That's why we pay him all that money."

Coslet was asked if this was the best that he had seen O'Brien play since he had been coach of the Jets.

"No," Coslet said. "He's had some tremendous games here. It sounds like you're surprised Kenny played well. Don't you have any confidence in him?"

It was a veiled reference to reports earlier this week that Coslet didn't give O'Brien a ringing endorsement when he had to announce that O'Brien would be starting for Nagle against the Dolphins.

The Jets reveled in their first victory this season against a team with a winning record -- and not just any winning record, but 6-1 coming in. Their last victory against a winning team happened to come against the Dolphins in the last game of last season. And guess who was the New York quarterback in that game?

Coslet had said earlier in the week that a lot of O'Brien's success against the Dolphins in the past had come because of a subpar Miami defense. The Dolphins defense, which has generally been much stronger this season, didn't think too much of itself after yesterday's game.

"We played like a bunch of girls," said Miami linebacker Bryan Cox, who had two sacks and leads the team with 10 this season.

The Jets knew there were two things they needed to do against the Dolphins. They needed to pressure Marino, who completed of 26 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns and was sacked twice, once for the safety. And they needed to establish their rushing attack to keep Marino off the field. They Jets were excellent in both categories.

With Blair Thomas sitting out with a pulled groin muscle, veteran running back Freeman McNeil started. But it was Baxter who was called upon to carry the load. And he answered the call.

"Lord, I know I'm glad I wasn't on defense," said Jets tackle Irv Eatman. "You could feel the breeze when he ran past. They didn't want to tackle him. And they didn't. They just kind of tripped him."

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