Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NOTEBOOK; Mathis Sets Tone on Jets' First Play

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NOTEBOOK; Mathis Sets Tone on Jets' First Play

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The New York Jets went into Sunday's game against the Jaguars with a rookie quarterback and the league's top-ranked rushing offense.

"They knew we knew they were going to run the ball,'' cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "Everybody in the stadium knew they were going to try to pound the ball on us.''

Mathis, though, had a feeling the Jets might try to fool them on the first play from scrimmage. The Jets were thinking the same way.

"They quick-snapped and we weren't ready for it,'' Mathis said.

Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez threw a long pass to Jerricho Cotchery on the first play from scrimmage, but it was a bit underthrown and Mathis jumped up to intercept it. He returned it 29 yards to the Jaguars 45.

"We made them pay,'' Mathis said.

"J-Co [Cotchery] runs an awesome route, and it's just a physical mistake and an underthrown ball,'' Sanchez said.

Five Maurice Jones-Drew runs later, the Jaguars had a 7-0 lead.

Mathis, who also forced a fumble and gave up a touchdown catch later in the game, suffered a groin injury in the fourth quarter and will be evaluated today.

BIG PLAY FOR GROVES ...

Quentin Groves didn't get down when he lost his starting defensive end job to Bryan Smith last week.

"I've got a beautiful wife and a great son on the way and I love playing football,'' he said.

Groves made the most of his opportunity as a backup with an interception of a Sanchez screen pass in the third quarter. He ran 37 yards and was on his way to a touchdown but stumbled and fell on the Jets 4-yard line.

"I saw Mark Sanchez raise up to throw the screen and I told myself, 'Just catch the ball.' When I caught it, I said, 'get to the end zone.' As I got closer to the end zone, it felt like it got further and further away. So I said, 'I'll be unselfish and let Maurice punch it in. …

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