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Edwards insists fake field goal was a routine call

FOXBOROUGH -- Had Dan Stryzinski's pass been more accurate, had Kevin Mawae's reach equaled his grasp -- or had Lady Luck come to Gillette Stadium wearing New York Jets apparel -- the topic might not have surfaced yesterday.

Surely if New York had overcome a gritty but subpar performance and a double-digit deficit to beat the Patriots, Jets coach Herman Edwards would not have had to insist that a botched pass on a fake field goal at the Patriots 16 with 10 minutes 18 seconds left in the second quarter was not the game's most poignant play because New York trailed, 6-3, at the time and subsequently tied the score twice.

Instead, the play was the hot topic following New York's 23-16 defeat. A short pass from Jets' holder Stryzinski grazed the fingertips of center Mawae. A team whose offense has been maligned for being too bland was questioned for opting against an odds-friendly 34-yard field goal. For the coach, that was a bit much.

Edwards not only defended the play, but his lengthy response -- and subsequent revisiting of the topic without being asked -- gave the impression that as he spoke, he was replaying the questioning of his decision in his head. It appeared each replay made the coach more agitated.

"Kevin catches the ball every time we throw it to him in practice. He has good hands, he can catch the football," said Edwards. "If he catches it, there is nothing said. It was a little out of reach for him, but I don't think that had anything to do with the game. Early in the game like that, you're on the road, you want to get something going, and if you hit it, you hit it; if you don't, you don't.

"We got the ball back," Edwards added. "We stopped them, they punted, and we ended up kicking another field goal, and we tied the game. It's not a big deal to me. We'll make a big deal out of it, but that's not why we lost the game. If it is, then put it on me, I lost the game because I faked a field goal in the second quarter."

Edwards was more bothered by the team's inability to capitalize on opportunities. Wide receiver Curtis Conway dropped a pass coming across the middle. Wayne Chrebet had a 32-yard reception negated when he was flagged for stepping out of bounds before returning to the field to make the catch. Linebacker Sam Cowart dropped a would-be interception.

The inability to make big plays made the Jets' margin for error slim. A fourth-quarter interception by the Patriots' Asante Samuel, who returned it for a touchdown, proved the team could not stay within the margin.

Asked what cost his team the game, Edwards said, "Our inability to convert on third down, our inability to catch some balls when we had a chance, and our inability to catch interceptions. Still, it was a tight game."

Edwards revisited the fake field goal topic. "If I had to do it all over again, would I have faked the field goal? Absolutely," he said.

When a reporter attempted to ask another question, Edwards continued, his voice raised: "That's, that's . . . I'm trying to get something going. I know how this team feels right now, and I'm trying to get some energy in the football team.

"So I'm going to take some chances. I'm trying to score touchdowns, because that's how you get momentum in your football team, not kicking field goals. And I'm the head coach, and if I wanted to go for it, it's my judgment and I'll do it, and if that lost us the game, then put it on me. Say, `The head coach lost the game because he went for a fake field goal in the second quarter of a game when the game is 6-3.' Are you kidding me? That's a joke."

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