- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jets coach Rex Ryan labeled Sunday's blocked punt a "technical" mistake in the team's 30-20 loss at Carolina. By using three gunners, the Jets gave the Panthers an opportunity to rush the long-snapper, and it resulted in a blocked punt that set up a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
"Usually been fairly successful with it," Ryan said of the three-gunner formation. "Are there things we could have done a better job physically? Absolutely. It wasn't really necessarily a bust in assignment, it was more of a technique deal. We could've helped. Obviously, you got certain guys in a tougher predicament. (Long-snapper) Tanner (Purdum) is in a tougher predicament because he got somebody over his nose. You're challenged a little bit this way. We just have to do a better job."
In an attempt to contain Panthers' return man Ted Ginn Jr., who has burned the Jets in the past with touchdown returns, the Jets used a third gunner during Sunday's game. By NFL rule, if a team does that, it allows the opposing team to rush someone over center. The Jets were aware that Carolina would be able to do so, but the team had the numbers it was looking for with seven blockers to fend off six rushers.
The Jets successfully punted three times earlier in the game, with Ginn returning just one punt for zero yards, but disaster struck on the fourth punt with the Jets trailing 16-13. Carolina linebacker Jason Williams used a swim move over Purdum's left shoulder to blow by the long-snapper and get a free shot at Jets punter Ryan Quigley.
Garrett McIntyre, to Purdum's right, had no shot at blocking Williams, although McIntyre tried to get over after seeing Williams break loose. Zach Sudfeld, to Purdum's left, focused on other rushers and didn't notice Williams run by him. Williams ran at Quigley with his hands held high and swatted the ball down for the block. McIntyre fell on the ball at the Jets' 14 to avoid further damage.
McIntyre said the Jets have worked on that formation a lot and credited Williams for making a good play. He acknowledged the nonideal situation Purdum faced in having to snap and block.
"Real tough," McIntyre said. "Imagine having your head down and then snapping the ball and having to block somebody. Not easy."
After the blocked punt, Carolina needed just four plays to score and go ahead 23-13 with 11:05 left in the game. Carolina added an interception return for a touchdown soon after to seal the game.
"We had the numbers. They really haven't shown that they would bring a guy over, but they did. You certainly are aware that's a possibility," Ryan said. "It doesn't really change your number count -- it's just obviously you're not in an ideal situation as you're snapping the ball and then having to protect, but that's always been the case in this league. Before they changed the rule, that happened all the time."