The Jets made it to Miami’s 26-yard line. They were down two with three seconds left at MetLife Stadium. The fate of Sunday’s game rested on the right foot of Sam Ficken.
And that’s exactly what the kicker wanted. Forty-four yards on the final play to win or lose? Bring it on.
“I think anyone at this level in my position, you hope to get a chance right at the [last] tick,” Ficken said. “The offense did a good job moving it down. [I] was just hoping to get in range, and with [a pass-interference] penalty, we were kind of there. And then just run out the clock and make the kick.”
Sounds simple, but now he had to do it under pressure. He had gone 2-for-2 but missed a point-after kick because of a bad snap and hold.
Ficken did not fail this time. He gave the Jets a 22-21 win with the longest walk-off field goal in franchise history.
His teammates mobbed him and lifted him in the air, but Ficken was rather low-key about the whole thing.
“I don’t want to take away from the fact that it felt really good,” he said. “But it wasn’t some heroic kick. We’re expected to make those in this league. I was just happy to come through for my team.”
The Jets had a kicker who came through regularly last season, but they let Pro Bowler Jason Myers walk away to Seattle as a free agent. Then they had trouble filling the void.
Chandler Catanzaro retired after one bad preseason game. Taylor Bertolet was inconsistent. The Jets claimed unproven Kaare Vedvik off waivers from Minnesota, but he missed a field goal and a PAT in the season-opening 17-16 loss to Buffalo.
Ficken emerged out of a kicking tryout before Week 2. The 26-year-old Penn State alum had appeared in five games for the Rams during the previous two seasons, including a playoff game.
Now he’s 14-for-19 on field goals and 20-for-22 on extra points. He also hit from 37 and 42 yards, the latter for a 19-18 lead with 4:05 remaining before Jason Sanders made his seventh field goal for a 21-19 Dolphins lead with 1:33 left.
Sam Darnold was confident that Ficken would make the last kick.
“He drills those all the time in practice,” he said, “so it was cool to see him do it in a game, in that huge situation.”
Ficken drilled it to make the Jets a 5-8 team. But he takes nothing for granted.
“I think at this position, you’re never too safe,” he said. “That’s just the reality of it.”