NFL Nation: T.J. Conley

Rapid Reaction: Broncos 17, Jets 13

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
12:10
AM ET


DENVER -- The New York Jets got Tebow-ed, falling to the Denver Broncos, 17-13, in a stunning, last-minute collapse Thursday night. Broncos QB Tim Tebow led a 95-yard drive, scoring on a 20-yard run with 58 seconds left.

What it means: The Jets fell to 5-5 in the most unimaginable fashion, blowing leads of 10-3 and 13-10 in the fourth quarter. The Jets have serious issues -- a mistake-prone Mark Sanchez, injuries to their running backs and an offense that doesn’t have a clue.

Tebowmania: With only three full days to prepare for Tebow and the Broncos’ college-style offense, the Jets’ defense was stellar for 56 minutes. Then came an utter collapse. Tebow came to life, leading a 12-play, 95-yard drive. In Denver, they will call it The Drive II. He made plays with his feet, and occasionally with his arm. The Jets fell asleep on the game-winning plays, allowing Tebow to scramble -- untouched -- into the end zone.

It may have been the death knell for the Jets’ season.

Bad Mark -- again: Sanchez did it again. For the second straight week, he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. This was a momentum-changing killer, a forced throw to Plaxico Burress that was picked by cornerback Andre Goodman. It made it 10-10. It was Sanchez’s third pick-six of the season.

It was another maddeningly inconsistent performance by Sanchez. He completed 11 straight passes at one point, but he missed a wide-open Dustin Keller in the end zone and made two clock-management errors -- one week after getting ripped by Rex Ryan for a botched timeout.

But say this for Sanchez: He’s one tough hombre. He took a beating in the second half, drilled twice by Denver pass rushers, but he managed to lead a 42-yard field goal drive for a 13-10 lead. Nevertheless, the Jets have to be concerned as they look forward.

Brutal special teams: This is supposed to be a strength, but the special teams were awful all night. Joe McKnight fumbled on a third-quarter kickoff return (his second lost fumble in five days), Nick Folk missed two field goal attempts (52 and 61 yards) and punter T.J. Conley shanked a 13-yarder. Give Folk credit; he rebounded to make a 45-yard field goal that could have been the game winner.

Painful injury: The Jets, already without the injured LaDainian Tomlinson (sprained knee), lost starting running back Shonn Greene (ribs) in the first quarter. Greene caught a 4-yard screen pass and landed on the ball as he hit the ground, grimacing in pain. It’s a familiar injury for Greene, who suffered a severe rib injury in the 2009 AFC Championship Game.

Makeshift backfield: Without Greene and Tomlinson, the backfield consisted of special-teams star Joe McKnight and rookie Bilal Powell, who made his NFL debut. That hurt the Jets’ pass protection because neither McKnight nor Powell is a good blocker.

Powell actually made the best bad play of the game -- yes, you read that correctly. On a second down from the Broncos’ 1, Powell fumbled in a crowd. It squirted across the goal line and left guard Matt Slauson pounced on it for the touchdown to give the Jets a 10-3 lead.

McKnight is an undisciplined runner, but he ran hard between the tackles and was effective on screen passes. The Jets aren’t a big screen offense, but they exploited the Broncos’ rush with well-timed screen passes.

Rare score: How fitting that the first touchdown in the ugliest of games was scored by a 325-pound guard from Nebraska. The way the Jets’ offense was playing, it wasn’t going to come from one of their skill-position players. Get this: Slauson’s TD was the first by a Jets offensive lineman since guard Randy Rasmussen in 1972.

All quiet on Revis Island: Just as he expected, Darrelle Revis didn’t get much action against the run-heavy Broncos. Best we can tell, he didn’t fall asleep.

What’s ahead: The Jets get a 10-day break before resuming against the Buffalo Bills in a home game. The Jets dominated the first meeting, 27-11.

Extra kickers find no quarter in AFC East

August, 11, 2010
8/11/10
9:59
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There's a movement afoot.

One kicker, one punter. No need to bring anybody else to training camp.

It used to be common for teams to have extra kickers even if they knew who would win the jobs. Competition kept the regulars sharp and made sure their legs didn't get worn out by special-teams drills.

But none of the four AFC East teams has brought in another kicker, and only one has two punters on its 80-man roster.

Steve Weatherford and T.J. Conley are taking turns at punter for the New York Jets. Their kicker, Nick Folk, might be the most disturbing case of all, but he's alone on the depth chart.

The Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots have their two swinging legs, and they're sticking to them in camp.

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said Tuesday some teams don't want to waste a spot on the 80-man camp roster.

"It's probably a combination of just managing the roster," Caserio said, "keeping that roster spot available in the event that there is another position player or somebody else out there that you want to add to your club."

If a kicker or punter is occupying a spot, then there's less room to accommodate a banged-up player or a more important position where competition is needed. There also are cases like unsigned guard Logan Mankins, who hasn't reported to camp but is on the roster.

But the Patriots have seen some shakiness in camp the past couple of days. Stephen Gostkowski, an All-Pro kicker two seasons ago, appears to have a hook in his attempts lately and has been missing more than his fair share. Rookie punter Zoltan Mesko has a booming leg, but has shown he's erratic. Every third or fourth punt looks like a wobbler or a shank.

I asked Caserio about extra legs in camp keeping the regulars honest.

"They have to go out there and perform," Caserio said. "We're going to evaluate it on a day-to-day basis, and if there is a point in time where we say 'OK, we feel we need to have somebody else in here or bring somebody else into the mix,' then we'll go ahead and do that.

"Nobody is guaranteed anything. Obviously, their performance is going to speak volumes about whatever position they play. We evaluate that like we do any position on a day-to-day basis and we will continue to do that."

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