Rex's big gamble backfires

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
1:43
AM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Riverboat Rex took some big chances Monday night. No doubt, he will be second-guessed for taking one too many.

Channeling his inner Sean Payton, Rex Ryan called for an onside kick after Joe McKnight's 100-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter of the Jets' 23-17 loss to the Texans. Damn near worked, too -- Chaz Schilens briefly had the ball in his hands -- but "almost" doesn't count on an onside kick. It was recovered by the Texans' Shiloh Keo at the Jets' 46-yard line, draining the feel-good vibe out of MetLife Stadium.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
Andrew Mills/US PresswireRex Ryan
The Jets had the momentum and trailed by only six points at the time, fueling the question: Why Rex, why?

Ryan got defensive when explaining the decision.

"That was me all the way, because we came here to win," he said. "That's it, whatever it took ... I came here to win. When you ask your players to lay it out there, to do whatever it takes to win, that's me included. Certainly, that was us. I went for it. I'm never going to look back and regret going for something, I can promise you that."

Facing the heavily-favored Texans, Ryan took a nothing-to-lose approach, pulling out a fake punt (it worked) and going for it on a fourth down in his own territory (that worked, too). No one will remember those plays, of course. The Tuesday Morning Quarterbacks will focus on the onside kick that didn't work.

When a coach tries an onside kick, it's usually to build on the previous score by creating a big-time momentum swing. The Jets already had that -- McKnight's touchdown electrified a dormant crowd -- but Ryan did it anyway. After the recovery, the Texans went in for a field goal, making it a two-possession game at 23-14.

Schilens took the blame, saying he should've secured the ball. "I had it," he said. "The dude's helmet knocked it out."

Asked if he liked Ryan's decision to try it, Schilens said: "It was a great call. If I caught it, we probably would've won the game. We would've stolen a possession and would've had all the momentum back. ... It was a huge letdown on my part."

The Jets practiced it all week, waiting for the right time to call it. Whether that was the right time is debatable, but Ryan also might have been trying to steal a rest for his defense. Before the McKnight touchdown, the defense was on the field for a 14-play, 70-yard drive. They were gassed.

As it turned out, the defense had to go on the field anyway.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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