Neither was two.
One touchdown catch after another, Burress had the big breakout game he and the New York Jets have been expecting.
The veteran wide receiver tied a career high by catching three TD passes, including the go-ahead score that was set up by another interception by Darrelle Revis, and the Jets stormed back in the second half to defeat the San Diego Chargers 27-21 on Sunday.
“Every morning you wake up on Sundays and you want to be great,” said Burress, who has been slow to develop a rapport with quarterback Mark Sanchez. “I had to let the game come to me. I think I’ve been forcing it. But this was them saying, ‘He’s been working hard, we’ll stick with it.’
“The fans pay money to come see you do well, and I felt for the past few weeks I was not playing well. This is gratifying.”
Leading 21-17, the Chargers appeared to be driving for a possible game-sealing score when Philip Rivers threw to Vincent Jackson and the ball tipped off the receiver’s hands and right to Revis, who returned the interception 64 yards to the Chargers 19.
“It was a big play,” said Revis, who thought cornerback Antonio Cromartie also got a piece of the ball.
Revis had two interceptions on Monday night, including a 100-yard touchdown return, in the Jets’ 24-6 win against the Miami Dolphins.
After a few runs by Shonn Greene and a defensive holding penalty — the Chargers’ 11th penalty in the game — Sanchez found Burress on a slant for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Jets (4-3) the lead for the first time with 8:41 remaining. It was Burress’ second three-TD catch game of his career, and first since 2007 while with the Giants.
“You’ve got to evaluate yourself,” Burress said. “I looked at myself and said I’ve got to play better. It was not on anybody but myself.”
San Diego turned it over again on its next possession when the Chargers (4-2) faced a third-and-6 from their 41 and Kyle Wilson picked off Rivers for the first interception of his career.
Nick Folk’s 30-yard field goal with 1:36 left made it 27-21. San Diego had one last shot for a winning drive, but couldn’t really threaten against New York’s defense.
“It’s our fault,” Chargers tight end Randy McMichael said. “You can ask any question you want to ask. The San Diego Chargers beat the San Diego Chargers. Nothing to do with the New York Jets. It’s embarrassing.”
With the win, the Jets headed into their bye-week break with two straight wins — both at home — after a three-game road losing streak. They also are off to their first 4-0 start at home since 2004.
“I feel like we’re hitting our stride right now,” coach Rex Ryan said. “We saw our team, the one we kind of envisioned at the start of the season. We were slow to get it going, but we saw it.”
Sanchez finished 18 of 33 for 173 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Burress finished with four catches for 25 yards, but he provided the red-zone presence the Jets hoped he’d be when they signed him as a free agent after he served 20 months in prison on a gun charge.
“He had three TDs,” Ryan said with a grin. “Not bad.”
Greene had a season-high 112 yards on 20 carries. LaDainian Tomlinson, facing his former team for the first time since signing with the Jets last offseason, became the fourth running back in NFL history with 600 catches before leaving in the fourth quarter with the flu. He finished with 14 yards rushing and three catches for 37 yards.
“I woke up this morning feeling pretty bad,” he said, “but was able to push through as long as I could.”
The game had some added spice when Ryan created a coast-to-coast stir when he said he would’ve won a few Super Bowl rings if he had been hired as the Chargers’ coach in 2007. That job went to Norv Turner, who shot back at Ryan asking if Ryan had those rings stored with the ones he has guaranteed with the Jets.
The two shook hands after the game and had a brief but cordial conversation.
“Before the game, I thought I could get him inside, work the body,” Ryan joked. “Obviously, my chin is not so good. Again, it was unintentional and unfortunate. I have so much respect for Norv.”
The Chargers jumped out to an early lead and would have been up by a bunch if not for their mistakes. San Diego, coming off its bye, was called for a whopping 13 penalties.
“The bottom line is we came out playing really well,” said Rivers, who was 16 of 32 for 179 yards and a touchdown — and the two costly interceptions. “We just didn’t finish off the game. If we played the second half like we played the first, it would have been a two-touchdown victory.”
Mike Tolbert gave San Diego a 21-10 lead with 1:16 remaining in the first half on a 1-yard touchdown run.
New York had an impressive drive on its second possession of the second half, capping a 10-play drive on Burress’ 4-yard touchdown catch that made it 21-17 with 2:57 left in the third quarter.
“We put our defense in a hole early, it felt like,” Sanchez said. “We almost spotted them 14 points.”
Donald Butler gave the Chargers an early 7-0 lead when he ripped the ball out of the hands of New York tight end Dustin Keller and scored on a 37-yard fumble recovery.
New York appeared to take a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter on a 23-yard touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes, but the score was negated by a holding penalty on center Nick Mangold. Two plays later, Eric Weddle picked off a pass that set up Antonio Gates’ 2-yard touchdown catch with 12:11 left in the first half. Gates, who missed three games with a flare-up of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, finished with five catches for 54 yards.
The Jets came right back as Burress caught a 3-yard touchdown pass with 7:18 left in the opening half to make it 14-10. The Jets were helped by four Chargers penalties — two pass interference calls and two offsides — on the drive.
“This,” Revis said, “was a must-win for us.”