Jeremy Kerley will never be mistaken for a big-time punt returner capable of taking it to the house, but the one thing he does offer is ball security.
Well, almost always . . .
Kerley made a rare gaffe at the worst possible time in Sunday’s 25-20 loss to the Falcons, muffing a punt fourth-quarter punt at his own 15-yard line late in the fourth quarter and the Falcons leading 22-20. The ball was recovered at the 13 by Kemal Ishmael, and the Falcons built the lead to five points on Matt Bryant’s 29-yard field goal with 5:19 to play.
Afterward, he was left to wonder.
“Just tried to catch the ball and make a play,” he said.
He admits the play changed the momentum of the game. Had he retained possession, the Jets would have needed a field goal to take the lead. Instead, they needed a touchdown. It never came, as the Jets failed to score any more points in the game’s final minutes.
“Oh, yeah, definitely,” Kerley said when asked if he felt there was a momentum shift after his muff.
Heavy winds and a driving rainstorm contributed to Kerley’s mistake, as the ball appeared to drift on him and he was forced to back up.
“It sailed a little bit,” he said. “It’s part of the game. At the end of the day, just messed up. It’s part of the game. Have to shake it off and move on to the next one. That’s what you’re supposed to do. At the end of the day, it sucks, but that’s not going to take away from how I play.”
Kerley’s trustworthy ball security prompted the Jets to promote him to the top punt returner’s spot in Week 3, after Kalif Raymond was released. Raymond had three muffed punts the first two games.
Kerley insists he won’t get down on himself moving forward, and that the team won’t point fingers after a third straight loss.
“We just have to find out how to fix it,” he said of the losing streak. It’s got to be fixed. We’ll all stick together at the end of the day. We’re not going to get anywhere pointing a finger at this person or beating this person up. We just got to find a solution to the problem.”