EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Plaxico Burress had the big breakout game the New York Jets have been waiting for.
The veteran wide receiver caught three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score that was set up by another interception by Darrelle Revis, and the Jets stormed back in the second half to defeat the San Diego Chargers 27-21 on Sunday.
Leading 21-17, the Chargers appeared to be driving for a possible game-sealing score when Philip Rivers threw to Vincent Jackson and the ball tipped off the receiver’s hands and right to Revis, who returned the interception 64 yards to the Chargers 19.
Revis had two interceptions on Monday night, including a 100-yard touchdown return, in the Jets’ 24-6 win against the Miami Dolphins.
After a few runs by Shonn Greene and a defensive holding penalty — the Chargers’ 11th penalty in the game — Mark Sanchez found Burress on a slant for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Jets (4-3) the lead for the first time with 8:41 remaining. It was Burress’ second three-TD catch game of his career, and first since 2007 while with the Giants.
San Diego turned it over again on its next possession when the Chargers (4-2) faced a third-and-6 from their 41 and Kyle Wilson picked off Rivers for the first interception of his career.
Nick Folk’s 30-yard field goal with 1:36 left made it 27-21. San Diego had one last shot for a winning drive, but couldn’t really threaten against New York’s defense.
With the victory, the Jets headed into their bye-week break with two straight wins — both at home — after a three-game road losing streak. They also are off to their first 4-0 start at home since 2004.
Sanchez finished 18 of 33 for 173 yards and three touchdowns, all to Burress, and an interception. Burress had just four catches for 25 yards, but he provided the red-zone presence the Jets hoped he’d be when they signed him as a free agent after he served 20 months in prison on a gun charge.
Greene had a season-high 112 yards on 20 carries. LaDainian Tomlinson, facing his former team for the first time since signing with the Jets last offseason, became the fourth running back in NFL history with 600 catches before leaving in the fourth quarter with what the team called an illness.
The game had some added spice when Jets coach Rex Ryan created a coast-to-coast stir when he said he would’ve won a few Super Bowl rings if he had been hired as the Chargers’ coach in 2007. That job went to Norv Turner, who shot back at Ryan asking if Ryan had those rings stored with the ones he has guaranteed with the Jets.
But it was the Chargers who jumped out to an early lead and would have been up by a bunch if not for their mistakes. San Diego, coming off its bye, was sloppy as it was called for a whopping 13 penalties that kept the Jets in it early.
Mike Tolbert gave San Diego a 21-10 lead with 1:16 remaining in the first half on a 1-yard touchdown run.
The drive went 87 yards on 11 plays, helped by a 29-yard run by Tolbert that drew an angry first pump on the sideline from Ryan. Three plays later, Malcom Floyd made an acrobatic one-handed catch on which many of the fans at MetLife Stadium wanted Ryan to challenge, thinking the ball might have hit the ground on Floyd’s way down.
On second-and-goal from the 8, Jim Leonhard was called for pass interference while defending Antonio Gates. After two runs for no gain, Tolbert bulldozed his way into the end zone from a yard out.
New York had an impressive drive on its second possession of the second half, capping a 10-play drive on Burress’ 4-yard touchdown catch that made it 21-17 with 2:57 left in the third quarter.
The Chargers took a 7-0 lead just 1:49 into the game when they took advantage of a turnover by the Jets.
After three straight runs — and a rare first-quarter first down by the Jets — Sanchez was hit and threw a wobbly pass to Dustin Keller, who caught the ball but had it ripped out of his hands by Donald Butler. The Chargers’ linebacker ran down the sideline and clear into the end zone, and capped his touchdown with a mock tribute to Tomlinson by sticking out his arm and flipping the ball off his fingertips as the Jets running back does when he scores.
Tomlinson, sixth on the NFL’s career rushing list, reached his milestone midway through the first quarter when he joined Larry Centers (827), Marshall Faulk (767) and Keith Byars (610) as running backs with 600 or more receptions. He got No. 600 on a 6-yard shovel pass from Sanchez on third-and-7 from the Chargers 22. The Jets kicked a field goal on the next play to cut the deficit to 7-3.
New York appeared to take a 10-7 lead on its next possession on a 23-yard touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes, but the score was negated by a holding penalty on center Nick Mangold. Two plays later, Sanchez went for the end zone again, tossing a pass to Burress that was easily picked off by Eric Weddle and returned 25 yards to the Chargers 24.
San Diego took advantage of the turnover, going on a 14-play scoring drive that was capped by Gates’ 2-yard touchdown catch with 12:11 left in the first half, putting the Chargers up 14-3.
Gates had missed three straight games with a flare-up of plantar fasciitis in his right foot after tearing scar tissue near the injury Sept. 18 against New England. He finished with five catches for 54 yards.
The Jets came right back as Burress caught a 3-yard touchdown pass with 7:18 left in the opening half to make it 14-10. The Jets were helped by four Chargers penalties — two pass interference calls and two offsides — on the drive.
Rivers was 16 of 32 for 179 yards and a touchdown, but also had the two costly interceptions.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)