EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Dec. 11, 2005) -- Curtis Martin walked through the Jets training room before their game against Oakland in a black sweat suit, his pads and uniform stored for the season.
John Abraham stopped him, looked into his eyes and said, "Curt, this don't even look right. I've never seen this."
The New York Jets came out with a 26-10 victory, snapping a seven-game losing streak behind Abraham and third-stringers Brooks Bollinger and Cedric Houston.
Still, nothing looked quite right.
It was their first game since 1998 without Martin, the venerable running back who tried to play through immense pain in his right knee for the last 10 weeks before finally giving up.
Now his season is over, along with his streak of 119 straight regular-season starts and his quest to become the first player in NFL history to start a career with 11 straight 1,000 yard seasons.
"This is new for me, I'm like a fish out of water," Martin said. "But at the same time, I realize there's no way I can be out there. I knew I couldn't perform. I haven't been able to perform like Curtis Martin should perform."
Martin instead watched Houston run for 74 yards on 28 carries and a 2-yard score. Bollinger set a team record for yards rushing by a quarterback with 56, eclipsing the old mark of 53 set by Richard Todd on Dec. 14, 1980 against New Orleans. He also was 14-of-26 for 119 yards.
Abraham had two sacks that caused fumbles, leading a defense that forced four turnovers and sacked Marques Tuiasosopo six times. Former Jets back LaMont Jordan, the understudy to Martin for four years, also failed to deliver many big plays for the Raiders (4-9), finishing with 49 yards on 14 carries.
The 32-year-old Martin's consistency and durability have vaulted him to No. 4 on the all-time rushing list, even though he has taken a backseat to bigger name players throughout his career.
Last season, Martin became the oldest running back to win the rushing title. He came into training camp in the best shape of his life, but things got ugly quickly. Martin got hurt against Miami in Week 2 with what the team called a sprained knee.
The Jets (3-10) proceeded to lose six key players on offense for the year. Martin should have joined them on the sideline much sooner, but he wanted to do whatever he could to help. By Week 6, he said he was playing at 40-45 percent.
Martin hit a low point last week at New England, when he took an injection before the game so he could play. The only other time he did that was in his first game with the Jets in 1998 because of intense back pain.
He met with coach Herman Edwards earlier this week to discuss the situation.
"Herm and I sat down and talked about it. He said to me for us to have this conversation, it must be a bad situation," Martin said. "There's no way you'd be sitting in Herman Edwards' office talking to me if this thing wasn't drastic."
Martin skipped practice all week and made the decision Saturday to sit out for the season.
In all, Martin has missed five regular-season games. Including playoff games, Martin had started 126 straight. He last missed a game on Oct. 11, 1998, when he sat out against St. Louis with a thigh injury.
"When I look at the offense for one guy to keep me going, it's Curtis," Abraham said. "He comes out every week and plays his heart out. It hurt to see it ending like this."
Martin wants to return next season, but he might not be in the Jets plans. If they get a high enough draft pick, they could select Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and release Martin, or they could ask him to restructure his contract and take a reduced role.
While Martin sat out, Jordan had the perfect chance to show the Jets what they were missing. Afterward, he criticized the decision to switch to Tuiasosopo, who started ahead of an ineffective Kerry Collins, and complained he didn't get the ball enough. It didn't help the Raiders had 13 penalties for 88 yards. Coach Norv Turner said he was sticking with Tuiasosopo.
"I'm very frustrated," Jordan said. "I sat back and watched a rookie get double the carries I had. Bringing in a new quarterback, you would think there would be more of an emphasis on the running game.
"We've got a long plane ride home with the same excuses that we say after every loss: defense plays well, we have a bunch of penalties and we didn't get the run game going. It's the same thing that's been said all year long."
- Former Raider tight end Doug Jolley had two catches for 15 yards, but dropped a touchdown in the end zone.
- Mike Nugent kicked four field goals (33, 20, 35, 21).
- Jets DE Shaun Ellis hurt his hamstring and missed the second half. DT Dewayne Robertson re-aggravated a quad injury.