Chrebet: Shows Wattage in Win

Tuesday, September 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — By day, Wayne Chrebet is a mild-mannered wide receiver for the New York Jets. By night, he's a comic-book super hero.

After catching a game-winning pass with 52 seconds left at Tampa Bay on Sunday, Chrebet returned home to find nearly 100 congratulatory messages on his Web site.

The one he liked best called Chrebet the Green Lantern, a reference to last week when Keyshawn Johnson compared himself to a shining star and Chrebet to a flashlight.

``Considering our team colors, I think it's perfect,'' Chrebet said Monday. ``I like it.''

Chrebet made a leaping catch of running back Curtis Martin's wobbly pass, capping a rally from a 17-6 deficit in the fourth quarter. The 21-17 victory Sunday left the Jets the only 4-0 team in the AFC.

``He's certainly a super hero now,'' Vinny Testaverde said. ``So I think Green Lantern is going to have to be his nickname.''

After the game, Chrebet had a perfect opportunity to give an ``I told you so'' to Johnson. Instead, he congratulated the Buccaneers (3-1) for playing a great game.

Referring to some of the unsportsmanlike antics in other games Sunday, Chrebet said, ``To each his own. I'll never act like that, but I won't criticize a player for it, if that's their character. I just like to keep it quiet. `Act like you've been there before,' is my motto.''

That isn't to say Chrebet wasn't elated by the outcome or thrilled that he starred in the team's third fourth-quarter comeback in four games.

``Whoever wrote that script, I thank them for it,'' Chrebet said. ``The way that we got the ball back and then won the game was surreal.''

The Jets closed to 17-14 with 1:54 left on Testaverde's 6-yard pass to Martin and a 2-point conversion. Then Tampa Bay's Mike Alstott fumbled the ball back to the Jets, setting up Martin's 18-yard halfback pass to Chrebet.

``I was hoping for anything that I could get the ball,'' Chrebet said. ``It was the perfect time to call that play. We're in field-goal range already, but we told ourselves, `Let's take it in.'''

Martin said when the play was called, he wanted to casually take his glove off his right hand so that he could pass the ball. In practice, his teammates noticed him taking off the glove and teased him that he was going to pass, so he did his best to keep the Tampa Bay defense from getting suspicious.

``I slid it off slowly, then dropped it just before the ball was snapped,'' Martin said. ``The defensive backs were too far away to see me, but I think (linebacker) Derrick Brooks saw me. He gave me one of those looks like, `What are you doing?' I don't think he knew it was a pass, but I think he knew I was getting the ball.''

Brooks clobbered Martin as he threw, but it was too late. The ball floated into Chrebet's hands at the back of the end zone, and the Jets won a game that appeared hopelessly out of reach.

``I was confident that we would make a play to win,'' Martin said. ``I wanted to have the ball in my hands with the game on the line, and that's what happened.''

Coach Al Groh said the pass play was something a running back ``gets to try every four or five years, but it was in the game plan from the start. You have to be willing to play the odds every once in a while.

``I tell the team, `Don't be concerned about losing, think about winning the game.' When you say that to the team, you have to believe it as a coach, too.''

With the Jets 4-0 for the first time in team history, Groh has nearly everyone believing.