Last week, Antonio Allen’s blocked punt for a touchdown turned a tight affair into a comfortable lead for the Jets and, although the Raiders pulled within 10 in the second half, that play set the foundation for their win. This week, the Jets were on the wrong end of a momentum shifting punt block, which set up a short touchdown and dug the Jets into a 10-point hole. As we’ve learned over the course of the season, the Jets are ill-equipped to battle back from such situations and so it proved, with Geno Smith’s pick six giving the Panthers – who had led by just three 10 plays earlier – a 17-point lead.
While it looked like this was Garrett McIntyre’s fault because he blocked nobody and chased Jason Williams into the backfield, Williams had actually shot the gap between Zach Sudfeld (the left guard) and long-snapper Tanner Purdum. Sudfeld blocked his man straight on, so the rusher would have been Purdum’s responsibility with no punt protector in the backfield.
I also felt that it was so obvious the kick was going to be blocked, that Ryan Quigley would have been better served in trying to avoid the rush and maybe run for it. While you might not have much chance of a first down, perhaps you can create enough room to kick the ball on the run and even if you can’t a three yard loss is better than the 13 yard loss than transpired. A little head and ball fake there and there’s no way Williams would be able to prevent Quigley from side-stepping him.
Whoever’s fault it was, it was a demoralizing blow for the fans and the players. It was visible as the Panthers pounded it in a few plays later.
Quigley had another disappointing day with a 33.0 yard net average, but Nick Folk excelled once again with field goals of 33 and 54 yards and just 49 return yards on four kickoffs.
The Jets’ return game was non-existent with the only kickoff that wasn’t a touchback being the one after Captain Munnerlyn’s excessive celebration penalty backed the Panthers up to their own 20. Antonio Cromartie returned that one 22 yards, the only 22 return yards on the day for the Jets. Kyle Wilson was back returning kicks and punts, despite the fact he’s rarely looked confident in that role. With Darius Reynaud inactive, I had thought Saalim Hakim would get his shot, but he did not feature.
In coverage Josh Bush and Ellis Lankster each made good plays, but Darrin Walls got badly burned while covering the gunner and Demario Davis had a missed tackle.
With two games to go, there’s still some things to play for with this unit. Can Nick Folk make it all the way to the end of the season (and a possible Pro Bowl selection) with just one (freak, wind-assisted) missed field goal? Also, can the Jets keep their streak alive of having at least one kickoff return for a score in every season since 2001 (when Craig Yeast was the primary return man)?
Next up…we wrap things up and start to look ahead to the last two games.