Joe McKnight wouldn’t call himself a hero.
Perhaps he was thinking about all the New York City police officers, firefighters and paramedics.
The true heroes, if you will.
Still, it would be fair to say that had McKnight not come up with a game-changing blocked punt with 5:08 remaining in the fourth quarter, which led to Isaiah Trufant’s game-tying 18-yard touchdown return, the Jets wouldn't have come away with a 27-24 victory over Dallas on Sunday night.
“It was just a wide open hole,” said McKnight, who had never blocked a punt before. “All I had to do was put my hand on it.”
The play was designed for McKnight to clog the hole and take two Cowboys with him so that Eric Smith could go one-on-one and try to get the block.
But when McKnight began to fulfill his role, he realized something: no one was in front of him.
He took two steps off the line and dove at Dallas punter Mat McBriar.
Clang. Just like that, the ball deflected off McKnight’s hands and into the arms of Trufant.
“Your eyes light up and you pick up the ball and run,” said Trufant, who didn’t know he’d be on the Jets active roster until 24 hours before kickoff when he was promoted from the practice squad.
“I saw daylight and fans cheering.”
“It’s been somewhat of a roller coaster ride,” Trufant said. “But I just try to take advantage of any opportunities I get.”
So was McKnight. That’s why he didn’t want to call himself a hero.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a hero, I’m just doing my job,” McKnight said. “But it feels good given what I’ve been through. It feels good.”
Rest easy, Mike Westhoff.