December 27, 2005

Patriots ground Jets as Monday Night era comes to a close

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdowns
to Mike Vrabel and Corey Dillon rushed for two more as the New
England Patriots eased to a 31-21 win over the New York Jets on

The game marked the end of an era for Monday Night Football
(MNF), which after 35 years had blossomed into one of the most
successful broadcast franchises in North American sport.

Next season the programme will move from ABC to ESPN, who
paid $1.1 billion for the rights to the prime-time property for
the next eight years.

The Jets, who were part of the very first Monday night game
against the Cleveland Browns in September 1970 completed the
circle, playing in the sign off 554 games later.

"The game will continue," said ABC announcer Al Michaels,
among the latest group to man the Monday Night booth that has
provided the stage for several industry icons including Howard

"But the ABC era of Monday Night Football comes to an end

Monday night games have provided many NFL highlights and
memorable moments over the decades but the final game on ABC
held little significance, with the injury hit Jets (3-12)
having long ago faded from postseason contention and defending
Super Bowl champion Patriots having already secured their
playoff berth.

However, in the closing moments of the mostly meaningless
contest, Jets veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde came onto
the field and tossed the game's final touchdown, a 27-yard
strike to Laveranues Coles.

That pass made Testaverde the first player in NFL history
to throw at least one touchdown in 19 consecutive seasons.

On a cold, windswept night at Giants Stadium, the Patriots
opened the scoring with Brady hitting Vrabel for a one-yard
touchdown strike.

The Jets would answer back a minute later when Ty Law
intercepted Brady and ran the ball back 74 yards for a score to
tie the game at 7-7.

But that would be as close as the Jets would get, Brady
hitting Vrabel with a two-yard touchdown pass and Dillon
charging over from the one with seconds left in the opening
half to put the Patriots in control at 21-7.

Brady finished 18-of-29 for 185 yards before turning the
game over to 43-year-old veteran Doug Flutie.

With the postseason approaching the defending NFL champion
Patriots appear to be hitting top form right on schedule,
collecting their fourth straight win and sixth in seven games.