Saturday, January 9, 2010
Punter's illness makes Ryan's heart skip
CINCINNATI -- A few minutes into Saturday's playoff game, an announcement was made in the Paul Brown Stadium press box. New York Jets punter Steve Weatherford was out with an illness.
We learned after the Jets defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 24-14 the condition was an irregular heartbeat detected moments before the game.
Place-kicker Jay Feely handled the duties.
"I was on the field when I heard it, that Jay was going to have to punt," head coach Rex Ryan said. "About gave me [an irregular heartbeat] also. It's not a funny thing, but it kind of is. We're hoping he's OK, maybe just a little anxiety."
Feely had never punted in an NFL game. He punted once for Michigan in the Rose Bowl and thought he might have punted for one game in high school.
"When we were in the locker room after pregame warm-ups," Feely said, "they came and told me. My first thought was 'Oh, crap.' You go out and try to do your best. That was definitely the most nervous I've been in the NFL before that first punt."
He averaged 31.4 yards on seven punts, but he placed three inside the Bengals' 20-yard line. He sent two of them out of bounds at the 6 and 12. Another was fair caught at the 11.
"I think I'm bad enough that I'm a good pooch punter," Feely said. "There were no directional punts. We tried a little bit, but I just wanted to catch it and get it off."
Said Ryan: "Jay Feely I thought was tremendous. I had no idea he could punt like that."