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Inside the Numbers: Taking Points off the Board

That Strategy Worked Out Miami; More on the Reception by No. 97, Lawrence Thomas


An uncommon situation arose in the third quarter of the Jets-Dolphins game Sunday. Chandler Catanzaro nailed a 46-yard field goal, but the 'Fins' Will Hayes was flagged for covering the center before the snap.

So the Jets gave back the three points and drove on.

You may have heard the football refrain before: Don't take points off the board. In this case it never came up, since the Jets removed three more minutes off the clock and then Catanzaro converted from 22 yards for a 20-0 lead.

Yet how valid is that saying? Not very, based on the history in Jets games. I charted 10 other instances since 1970 where the Jets or their opponents took points off the board. In eight of the 10 cases, the team that took the points off put more points back on later in the drive.

The last time the Jets tried it, at Tennessee in the 2007 final game, it didn't end well, as Mike Nugent's second-quarter field goal was erased but then Chad Pennington threw an end zone interception.

But before that, the Jets scored touchdowns, by Curtis Martin and LaMont Jordan, following the removal of John Hall FGs in the 1998 and 2002 home games vs. Buffalo.

Maybe the biggest gamble that paid off was in the 1991 regular-season finale vs. Miami. With a postseason berth on the line, Raul Allegre hit a third-quarter FG that would've tied the game at 10-10. But E.J. Junior was flagged for holding, the Jets extended the drive, then went ahead on Brad Baxter's touchdown run. Ultimately they prevailed in overtime, 23-20, and went on to the playoffs.

The bottom line: Seven times the Jets have taken points off the board. Four times they scored TDs, once (Sunday) they scored a field goal. Opponents took points off four times and went on to score TDs all four times.

Catching On in the 90sFollowing up our Monday tweet, D-lineman Lawrence Thomas returned to his high school and college roots to play fullback on about eight offensive plays vs. the Dolphins. And on third-and-1 early in the third quarter, he caught a 15-yard pass from Josh McCown and nearly broke free for a touchdown.

Thomas wears uniform No. 97. And every time he lined up at FB, ref Terry McAulay informed the opponents, the other officials and the fans that "No. 97 is eligible," because normally players wearing numbers in the 90s are not eligible receivers.

And in the Jets' case, players before "the new LT" wearing numbers in the 90s had never before caught a pass in any regular-season or playoff game. Thanks to speculation by our Aussie football friend, @WalshNYJets, and confirming our suspicions, research on showed Thomas is the first 90-plus player in franchise history with a reception.

Sheldon Richardson (No. 91) of course rushed for two TDs as a Jets rookie in 2013 but had no catches. On the NFL level, the Texans' J.J. Watt (No. 99) wears a higher number and had three TD catches in 2014. And Tyson Alualu (No. 93), with the Jaguars in '15, had a 16-yard reception at the Titans. So there's more receiving work to be done by Thomas.

Near ShutoutsFor the longest time Sunday, the Jets were eyeing their first ever home shutout of the Dolphins and their first ever home opener shutout. Instead, Jay Cutler's 3-yard TD pass to DeVante Parker on the game's final play turned it into the Jets' first walk-off non-shutout. The previous "record holder" for losing a whitewash: Jets 26, Colts 7, Hoosier Dome, Sept. 28, 1986. Rookie QB Jack Trudeau hit rookie WR Bill Brooks, also with a 3-yard pass, with 14 seconds to play.

Coincidentally, that game came the week after the Jets' famous 51-45 OT win over the Dolphins.

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