MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Antonio Allen stood in a corner of the locker room, still trying to come to grips with the play that cost the Jets a chance at a victory over the Dolphins and continued hopes — albeit slim — of a playoff run.
The special-teams ace was called for being offside on the kickoff after a touchdown that put his team ahead by three points with 5:42 left in the fourth quarter Sunday. Allen, however, insisted he wasn’t offside, and he said his contention was backed up by visual evidence.
On the disputed play, the Jets brought down returner Jakeem Grant at the Dolphins’ 19. But they were forced to re-kick because of the penalty, and Kenyan Drake returned the kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown that gave Miami a 27-23 lead with 5:15 left.
“As far as I’m concerned, I was onside,” Allen said. “I went back and looked at the picture [on the sideline], and I was clearly onside. I don’t even know what to say.”
Allen was shown the picture on the sideline after Drake’s touchdown. Special teams coach Brant Boyer showed him the moment that Folk kicked the ball, and Allen said he wasn’t over the 35-yard line. A still photo from the television replay also indicated that Allen wasn’t offside.
“I was pretty surprised my name was called, because I’m pretty good at timing up the kick and knowing Nick’s steps,” he said. “It’s clear as day.”
But by the time Allen saw the replay, it was too late. And even if he had argued the call, the penalty wouldn’t have been overturned.
“I didn’t even go ask [the official who called the penalty], because what’s the use of asking him,” he said. “If they throw the flag, they can’t change anything.”
The Jets had just taken a 23-20 lead after Dolphins punter Matt Darr fumbled and the Jets recovered at the Miami 18. Two plays later, Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Jalin Marshall for a touchdown.
“I’m pretty upset, because we just took the momentum,” Allen said. “[Drake’s touchdown return] sucked the momentum right out of us.”
Allen knew the Jets might be in trouble because of the fatigue factor on the re-kick.
“When you’re running down full speed, and you’ve got to go do it again, as the [Dolphins] return team, you’re excited, because you know the guys [on the Jets’ coverage team] are dead tired,” Allen said. “For the kickoff team, it’s one of the hardest plays back-to-back.”
Allen’s worst fears came true on the re-kick. A fresh Drake, who replaced Grant, sliced through a hole on the right side, broke two tackles and easily outran Folk down the sideline.
What did Allen think when he saw Drake racing toward the end zone? “Oh, snap. Here we go.”
Allen knows the loss was a huge setback for the Jets’ playoff hopes. “It’s a tough league,” he said. “You’ve just got to deal with it and move on. Hopefully some people lose in the conference or in the division so we can get back up there.”