EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Vinny Testaverde looked as comfortable in the pocket for the New York Jets on Sunday as he was watching them from his couch two weeks ago.

And the New York Jets are one win the better for it.

The Meadowlands crowd welcomed Testaverde back with rousing cheers and a standing ovation, and in the end, he deserved it: The 41-year-old quarterback led the Jets to a 14-12 win Sunday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Of course, he needed a little help from his friends. Curtis Martin ran for two touchdowns and Testaverde looked sharp despite a nine-month layoff.

Matt Bryant kicked four field goals for the Bucs (4-1), who played without injured running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams because of foot and hamstring injuries.

Tampa Bay dominated the first half in total plays and time of possession but led 9-7 at halftime because its offense never got close to the end zone. Michael Pittman, who filled in for Williams, could not get much started and finished with 13 carries for 46 yards while Brian Griese came back down to earth after a good start to the season and was 27-of-42 for 226 yards with an interception.

Still, the Bucs had a chance in the end. They forced the Jets to punt with 1 minute remaining but ran out of time trying to get into field goal range.

The day might have been meant for Testaverde, in his second stint with the Jets after Chad Pennington went out for the season with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Two weeks ago, Testaverde was sitting on his couch in Long Island when he saw Pennington and backup Jay Fielder get hurt.

Testaverde phoned coach Herman Edwards and offered his services. Edwards took him up on it, and Testaverde back in the familiar green and white.

It took a little while for the Jets (2-3) to take their first lead of the game, following their first possession of the second half. Justin Miller had a nice 32-yard return on the kickoff, and Testaverde expertly led the Jets down the field, going 3-for-3 for 32 yards on the series.

But it wasn’t easy. After three straight runs, the Jets went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Martin plunged in for his second touchdown of the game and the season to put the Jets up 14-9. Martin finished with 59 yards on 23 carries.

The lone miscue of the day for Testaverde nearly cost the Jets. Ronde Barber intercepted a hurried Testaverde in the fourth quarter, and Tampa Bay converted the turnover into points when Bryant kicked a 30-yard field goal with 4 minutes remaining.

But that was as close as it would get.

Early on, the Jets failed to give Testaverde much help. Two interceptions were called back because of penalties, including one late in the second quarter.

New York capitalized on its lone takeaway in the first half, but there were some fireworks. After Ty Law returned an interception 43 yards to the Bucs’ 8, Martin carried for 3 yards. That’s when Kevin Mawae and Ronde Barber got into a heated exchange; Barber swung at Mawae but inadvertently hit umpire Butch Hannah in the eye.

Rather than getting ejected, Barber was given a 15-yard personal foul penalty. The Jets scored one play later, when Martin ran from 2 yards, putting them up 7-6.

AP-ES-10-09-05 1624EDT


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