FAVRE'S ENTHUSIASM EASY FOR JETS TO CATCH
NASHVILLE - You can call it Favre Fever, and the New York Jets have caught it.
It is an infectious disease, and suddenly the rest of the NFL will be scrambling to find a cure.
It starts with the 39-year-old Hall of Fame quarterback chest-bumping teammates and jumping into the arms of a Damien Woody and high-fiving Jay Feely after a killer third-quarter touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles Laveranues Coles and generally acting like a high school senior.
Before you know it, they all feel it:
An offensive line that absolutely dismembers the Titans and unleashes the two-headed monster of Thomas Jones Thomas Jones (27-96) and Leon Washington (8-82, 2 TDs), 192 rushing yards in all, 4.9 yards per crack.
A defense anchored by Kris Jenkins that limits rookie gamebreaker Chris Johnson to 45 rushing yards.
A rookie tight end named Dustin Keller who catches six passes for 42 yards and draws three penalties against defenders that can't match up with his freakish skills.
A head coach who, with 10 days to prepare after beating the Patriots in Foxborough, is Mangenius again.
It didn't take a perfect game to end a perfect season, but this was damn close. The Jets dominated the trenches and kept the Titans on their heels all afternoon, thanks to a gameplan that Bill Parcells and the Super Bowl XXV Giants would have: a 40:30-19:30 time of possession advantage.
"I'm not gonna sit here and say that we've established ourselves as the best team in football," Brett Favre said after Jets 34, Titans 13. "All it says is that I think we beat the best team in football today - definitely if you go by record and the way that they've played, they had been the best team in football."
Had been. The Titans are 10-1 now. The Jets New York Jets are 8-3, and in the driver's seat for the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Favre (6-for-6) shredded the Titans and demoralized their pass rush with his deadly quick passing game on the opening drive, and it was 7-0.
"I tried to get it to our playmakers underneath, and let 'em make plays," Favre said. "That first drive was really a tone-setter, if you will. It sure sent a message that we were capable of scoring against this defense."
The Titans, meanwhile, played as if the prospect of a perfect season was an albatross. Kerry Collins wasn't about to beat the Jets without a running game and his receivers dropped five passes in the first half, anyway.
Favre (25-32, 224 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) recalled that the '96 Packers won a Super Bowl more by chemistry than talent alone.
"This team," Favre said, "I start sensing a belief: 'All right, we can get it done.' That's where it starts. When we stepped on the field, we were 14 points ahead before the ball was kicked off. I mean that from a mental standpoint. No one wanted to play us."
Favre's interception was his first in three games, an underthrow for Coles down the left sidelines. But his two-yard TD pass to Coles that made it 20-3 is why no one will want to play his Jets if he remains disciplined. Favre looked left for Keller first as he rolled right and wound up throwing across his body to Coles - vintage fearless Favre - in back of the end zone.
"When I threw it, I thought, 'This is gonna be tight,' " Favre said, "but I felt like it had a chance. I always called it the (ex-Packers coach) Mike Holmgren Syndrome: 'Oh, no, no, no, no, - GOOD!' "
Favre smiled now. "It was good today," he said.
Favre even got drilled early on by cornerback Cortland Finnegan when he lined up left in the Jets' version of the Wildcat. "It didn't hurt," Favre said. "I've been hit a lot harder, but no offense to him."
The first question for Favre in the interview room had been: "Where should the '72 Dolphins send the champagne?" now that their perfect season remains in the history books.
"I don't drink," Favre said with one those mischievous smiles. "Twelve years ago I . . ."
Favre and the Jets are driving the rest of the league to drink. Favre Fever is running rampant.
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