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Mike Westhoff explains onsides kick

Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff could be

Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff could be in trouble with the league after publicly complaining that the Patriots use a "wall" along their sidelines on kick returns. Credit: John Dunn, 2009

On the night of the vice-presidential debate, it’s appropriate to look back at the one play in the Jets’ 23-17 loss to Houston that sparked debate and divided opinion among Jets fans. That woulod be the decision by the Jets to try for an onsides kick just after Joe McKnight’s 100-yard kickoff return had cut the deficit to 20-14.

Head coach Rex Ryan said it was his decision, but in his weekly meeting with media covering the Jets on Thursday, special teams coach Mike Westhoff called it a joint decision that had been discussed the night before the game. The idea was to look for an opportunity to steal a possession, and Westhoff said doing it after McKnight’s return was a good idea because the Texans’ special teams unit might be reeling after giving up a touchdown on the previous play.

“We had just smacked them, and those same guys were coming on the field,” Westhoff said. “The very same guy that had to defend that play had just been part of a group that gave up a 100-yard touchdown. That’s my philosophy why I wanted to do it. Rex was on board with it. We’re going to take every shot we can. You can always second-guess those.”

As it turned out, Westhoff said Houston actually defended against the onsides kick pretty well. Nick Folk’s kick went the minimum 10 yards before wide receiver Chaz Schilens leaped and caught the ball against his stomach. But Schilens lost it when a Texans player’s helmet made contact with the ball and knocked it free. The Texans recovered at the Jets’ 46 and wound up kicking a field goal for a 23-14 lead.

“I thought we had it,” Westhoff said. “The ball came up, and we tried to double-team their outside guy. It was a good kick, not a great kick. If it was a little higher, we could have gone up and caught it cleaner. As it was, we had the ball, but in the collision on the way down, they knocked it out. I was disappointed. When I first saw it, I said, ‘We’ve got it.’ But it didn’t work out. We were being aggressive.”


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