Matt Ammendola is one cool customer. Despite having had only one punt in a game in his football career, and that in high school, the Jets' first-year placekicker came on for the injured Braden Mann at Carolina and rocked out as the Green & White's punter for the rest of the day.
Asked by newyorkjets.com's Ethan Greenberg after the game how he punted, he said:
"I think I did all right. I think I had a good few punts. Obviously, I can always get better. I definitely wasn't expecting it, but at the end of the day you've just got to expect the unexpected."
What is truly unexpected is that Ammendola on Sunday thrust himself into the middle of the conversation about which NFL kickers have made the best punters.
On his six punts, Ammendola averaged 48.5 gross yards and 42.5 net yards — topped by his 65-yard gross and net boomer in the second quarter. The gross average is the best by a placekicker for a season since 1970 while the net is second-best by a K for a season since 1976. Here are the leaders, courtesy of StatsPass (rankings are from 1970-present for gross, 1976-present for net, both minimum five punts):
|Kicker, Team||Year||Punts||Gross, Rnk||Net, Rnk|
|Matt Ammendola, NYJ||2021||6||48.5, 1st||42.5, 2nd|
|Don Silvestri, NYJ||1995||5||47.6, 1st||33.6, 9th|
|Olindo Mare, MIA||1997||5||47.0, 3rd||46.2, 1st|
|Brad Daluiso, DEN||1992||10||46.7, 4th||40.7, 3rd|
Needless to say, these were all emergency situations. Silvestri came on for the injured Brian Hansen in the '95 season finale vs. New Orleans. Mare replaced John Kidd (who finished his career with the Jets in '98) in the '97 opener vs. Indy. Daluiso (the Giants' K from 1993-2000) punted in two games for his 10 kicks as a Bronco in '92.
Since these are season statistics, Ammendola's would change if he punts again. With the signing of longtime Saints punter Thomas Morstead this week and the hoped-for return of Mann from short-term IR, Matt's punting numbers could be safe.
But we suspect Ammendola, while no doubt always mindful of his stats, will gladly take the longer snaps from Thomas Hennessy if called on again.
"At the end of the day," he said, "you've just got to step up. If they need you, they need you."
Jets-Patriots Rookie QB Funtime Trivia
Here are several interrelated nuggets that will become operative assuming both the Jets' Zach Wilson and the Patriots' Mac Jones get the starting nods for Sunday's Jets-Patriots game at MetLife Stadium.
■ It would be the first time in the 62-year history of the rivalry that two rookie QBs have started against each other.
■ The Jets have started five rookie QBs against the Pats previously, beginning with Joe Namath in 1965 (against the Boston Patriots, of course) and running through Bill Demory (1973), Mark Sanchez (2009), Geno Smith (2013) and Sam Darnold (2018). The Jets' record in those games is 4-4.
■ The Patriots have started six rookies vs. the Jets previously, beginning with Tommy Greene in the teams' first meeting in 1960 and proceeding to Jim Plunkett (1971), Steve Grogan (1975), Tony Eason (1983), Tommy Hodson (1990) and Drew Bledsoe (1993). The Jets' record in those games is 6-2 and they've won the last six.
■ Thus the Jets are 10-6 in all games and 6-2 at home vs. the Patriots in which a rookie signal-caller starts for either team.
■ Finally, the North Jersey phase of the old AFL rivals' series began in 1990, when Ken O'Brien and the Jets topped Hodson and the Pats. In all games played in the Meadowlands, old stadium and new, when a rookie QB starts for either team, the Jets are 4-0 over the Patriots.