Earlier this week, we at newyorkjets.com ranked our top 10 highlights of the first nine games of the season (click here for Nos. 6-10 and here for the top 5). While the flawless Nick Folk and his multitude of game-winning field goals found their way into several highlights, other worthy special teams plays didn't make that list.
As a result, this week's Special Teams Saturday article is dedicated to the five best special teams plays of our first nine weeks by players not named Nick Folk.
5. Jeremy Kerley's 24-yard punt return plus penalty @ ATL
With the Jets up six heading into the fourth quarter, a Falcons drive stalled at their 18 and they punted on 4th-and-12. Kerley fielded Matt Bosher's 44-yard punt and used his speed and agility to break free down the sideline. Twenty-four yards later, JK was finally brought down by Bosher — with a horsecollar tackle.
After the 15-yard penalty, Chris Ivory's 19-yard run set us up with 1st-and-goal from the 4, and three plays later TE Kellen Winslow caught the ball in the end zone for a touchdown and a two-possession lead. The punt return, the penalty and the pass to Winslow proved pivotal in a game the Jets came back to win, 30-28, as time expired.
4. Ryan Quigley's punt downed at the 1 vs. BUF
The Jets took over at the Bills 43 leading, 27-20, with 1:43 remaining in the game. After failing to pick up a first down, and with a pair of Buffalo timeouts stopping the clock, Quigley, in his first game for the Green & White, came on to try to pin QB EJ Manuel's offense deep.
His 40-yard punt hung up just long enough for CB Ellis Lankster to sprint downfield, jump up and knock the ball out of the end zone to his teammate, CB Isaiah Trufant, waiting at the 1. The Bills were faced with a nearly impossible task, needing to move 99 yards in 21 seconds without any timeouts, and the Jets defense stopped them with ease.
3. Robert Malone's 84-yard punt vs. TB
After QB Geno Smith was sacked on third down for a loss of 11 yards in the third quarter vs. the Buccaneers, it was up to P Robert Malone to do what he could to flip the field. Punting from just a few yards in front of our end zone, Malone struck the ball perfectly. It traveled a long way through the air before finally landing. Trufant did what he could to sprint downfield and down it, but the 84-yard punt rolled all the way into the Buccaneers' end zone for a booming touchback.
The punt will go down in the record books as the second-longest in our franchise history. Of course, Malone and the Jets would have happily taken a few less yards for the ball to stay out of the end zone, but it all worked out in the end as the Jets won, 18-17, on a Folk field goal in the game's final seconds.
2. Antonio Allen's blocked punt @ ATL
It had been three straight games without a takeaway, and the Jets knew that trend would have to cease for them to beat QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons in Atlanta. After CB Darrin Walls dropped what could have been a pick-six on third down near midfield, the Falcons decided to punt.
Allen broke through the line and got a hand on Bosher's punt for a block. Shann Schillinger, who missed the block on Allen, scooped up the ball and passed it to Jason Snelling, but the completion lost 8 yards on Garrett McIntyre's tackle. The end result was a turnover on downs and some early momentum for the Green & White.
"He played me a little too ... his leverage wasn't really good," Allen said of Schillinger. "So I just went and dipped inside and was able to make a good play for us."
1. Ellis Lankster's suplex tackle vs. TB
At 5'9" and 190, Lankster will never be the biggest guy on the football field, but that didn't hold him back, making one of the best tackles so far this year.
Lankster sprinted downfield to cover Malone's punt on the second play of the fourth quarter vs. the Bucs. He split a pair of defenders and soon arrived at PR Eric Page. Ellis wrapped him up, but Page "just kept trying to run," Lankster said. "Once I had gotten behind him, I felt he was light, so I just picked him up and slammed him down."
*Special Teams Saturday