Hughes victimized on Cromartie's return

January, 10, 2011
1/10/11
1:02
PM ET
On Antonio Cromartie's 47-yard kickoff return Saturday night that helped set up the Jets’ winning drive, Jerry Hughes of the Colts had the first and best opportunity to get the defensive back down.

Hughes could have had Cromartie at the 15-yard line or so, but his effort seemed halfhearted and it didn’t take much for Cromartie to angle a bit more to his right and run right past the first man on kickoff coverage.

The second-best chance at Cromartie was Nate Triplett, who had to dive about four yards later but didn’t even manage to slow the returner.

Would better people have been on the coverage team if the Colts were healthier? Absolutely. But those guys could have made a play and didn’t. Also on the field for the Colts at that point: defensive back Mike Richardson and receiver Taj Smith.

Triplett, Smith and Richardson all became part of the 53-man roster in December.

For Hughes, who showed very little as a rookie first-round defensive end, it’s the most memorable (non-)play of the season and the second most memorable thing about him as a Colt.

The first was Bill Polian’s radio lament about not taking Rodger Saffold, a player the Colts thought was a right tackle who played very well as a left tackle for St. Louis this season.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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