EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Jets must be getting used to sweating out victories.

Leon Washington rushed for 129 yards on 20 carries and scored the first two touchdowns of his career, and the Jets held on to beat the Detroit Lions 31-24 on Sunday.

The Lions put a scare into the Jets, who led the entire game, by getting within a touchdown with 2:22 left when an outstretched Mike Furrey caught the ball in the back right-corner of the end zone. Jets coach Eric Mangini challenged the play, but it was upheld with officials saying Furrey got both feet in bounds and had control of the ball.

New York (4-3) got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff and ran out the clock to escape with a victory. The Jets, whose previous three wins were all decided on the opponents’ last possession, won consecutive home games for the first time since 2004.

After the Lions (1-6) closed within a touchdown with just over nine minutes remaining, Chad Pennington completed a 16-yard pass to Chris Baker, and Brad Smith followed with a 2-yard run. Tyoka Jackson was called for defensive holding on the play, moving the Jets further into Detroit territory. Washington then took the ball, ran to the left and scooted 16 yards down the sideline with 4:51 left.

New York took advantage of Detroit being without their two starting defensive tackles. Shaun Rogers is serving a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s rule on banned substances, and Shaun Cody is out with a dislocated toe. The Jets, who have struggled all season with their running game, finished with 221 yards against the Lions.

Washington had his second 100-yard rushing game, and Kevan Barlow added 49 yards and a TD on 12 carries.

Kevin Jones took a shovel pass from Jon Kitna 9 yards for a touchdown to cut Detroit’s deficit to 24-17 with 9:09 left. Kitna, 7-of-10 for 75 yards on the 12-play drive, converted two third-down passes for first downs and a 17-yard pass to Furrey on fourth-and-11 to set up Jones’ score. Furrey, who had four catches for 57 yards on the drive, finished with nine catches for 109 yards.

Kitna was 22-of-36 for 269 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Jets scored their first first-quarter offensive touchdown in 20 games on Washington’s first career TD 2:45 into the game.

Justin McCareins’ 44-yard touchdown catch made it 14-0 with 4:02 left in the opening quarter.

On third-and-1 from the Lions 44 following an offsides penalty on Kalimba Edwards, Pennington ran the play-action to perfection, freezing the linebackers and freeing up McCareins down the right sideline. Pennington lofted a pass that McCareins caught over his shoulder for his first reception since Week 2 before beating Dre’ Bly and Terrence Holt into the end zone.

Pennington finished 16-of-22 for 189 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Roy Williams, who came in leading the NFL in yards receiving, caught a 22-yard pass from Kitna to make it 14-7 with 7:54 left in the half. Kitna took a few steps back and fired to Williams, who caught the ball on the run between Andre Dyson and Erik Coleman for his first catch of the game.

Justin Miller put the Jets in great position on the ensuing kickoff, returning the ball 56 yards before being pushed out of bounds by kicker Jason Hanson. Six plays later, Barlow plowed up the middle for his fifth touchdown of the season, giving the Jets a 21-7 lead with 5:28 left in the half.

Hanson kicked a 25-yard field goal to cap a 12-play, 83-yard drive by the Lions to make it 21-10 with 4:57 left in the third quarter.

Nugent’s 33-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give the Jets a 24-10 lead.

AP-ES-10-22-06 1626EDT


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