Following the Jets bye week, the Jets went on a tear, winning 8 out of 11 games, led by Pennington, who threw for 20 TDs and only 3 INTs over that stretch. Chad finished the season with an NFL leading 104.2 passer rating, and the Jets finished with a 9-7 record that was good enough to win the AFC East.
The following week, the Jets hosted the Colts in a wild card game in which they punished the Colts 41-0. In that game, Pennington went 19-25 for 222 yards and 3 TDs, vs 0 INTs, a whopping 142.0 passer rating. The season ended with a loss in Oakland against the Raiders.
2003 marked Pennington’s first of many career harming injuries, when he injured his wrist in the preseason on a hit by Brandon Short. (I was on my honeymoon and inadvertently woke my wife up I was so upset) He ended up missing the first 6 games, and by the time Chad came back, the season was not to be saved and the Jets went 6-10.
2004 is where Chad Pennington’s heart and toughness begin to come full circle. The Jets were 6-1 when they went to Buffalo, and Chad suffered his first arm injury. We later learned it was his first torn rotator cuff, but at the time, Pennington missed 3 games. He came back, and with what we learned was a torn rotator cuff, led the Jets to a 10-6 record and a wild card playoff berth.
Then, in the wild card game against the Chargers, Chad went 23-33 for 279 yards and 2 TDs in the Jets wild card win. All with a torn rotator cuff. Keep that in mind. He was 21-33 in the following week’s game against the Steelers, and the Jets would have gone to the AFC championship game, if Doug Brien could make one of two field goals that would have won the game.