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Tim Tebow had green light on 4th down

New York Giants linebacker Spencer Paysinger (49) tackles

New York Giants linebacker Spencer Paysinger (49) tackles New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow (15) during the second half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz) Credit: AP Photo Rich Schultz

It seemed like a very risky decision at the time, but Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff said he was confident the fake punt run by backup quarterback Tim Tebow last Sunday in Miami would work if the Dolphins’ punt team gave Tebow the right look. It was fourth-and-three at the Jets’ 25-yard line in the second quarter, and they trailed at the time, 10-0.

If Tebow had been stopped, and the Dolphins got a short field and scored a touchdown, the rout might have been on. But Tebow gained five yards for a first down that jump-started a long drive for a Nick Folk field goal that cut the deficit to 10-3.

Westhoff said it was his call, but it was a play the Jets had practiced for three weeks and head coach Rex Ryan knew they would use it in the right situation. “I knew as soon as I saw him line up we were going to get it,” Westhoff said Thursday in his weekly meeting with media covering the Jets. “We had a specific thing on – it’s a personnel grouping and a play. [The Dolphins] had seven guys in the box, so, it’s not like they fell asleep. They did not. But we feel with the guys we have blocking and Tim running the football under that circumstance, we’re going to go get it. And we did.”

If the Jets hadn’t gotten the look they wanted, Tebow would have checked out of the play to a punt or an alternative play. “Tim being a quarterback who is used to doing that really helps,” Westhoff said. “It gives us a lot of flexibility. I was very confident to run it, and we got it pretty easily…I believe in Tim. You give Tim the ball, and he’s 240 pounds. He’s not easy to stop.”

Of course, the Jets went on to pull out a 23-20 overtime victory, but it wasn’t without incident at the end. Folk lined up for a 33-yard field goal attempt to win the game, but Miami coach Joe Philbin called timeout just before the ball was snapped. Folk kicked anyway, and it was blocked. Given a reprieve by the Dolphins’ coach, Folk drilled the gamewinner.

“You could see the coach [Philbin] was going to ice him,” Westhoff said. “As soon as he did it, whistles are being blown. That throws off everything. Our ‘get-off’ time usually is at a particular level, but this one was way slower. They went through with the kick, and they blocked it.

“They hadn’t come close to us before, so, I was going to stick with how I felt. They had the timeout after the play, and Mark Sanchez came on the field and was yelling, ‘What can we do?’ I said, ‘We aren’t going to do anything. The same guys are out there.’ It was kind of funny. He was just really into it.”

Westhoff said statistics show icing the kicker is effective, but he only likes to do it in cold, miserable weather or if the opposing kicker is the type that can’t stand having his routine interrupted.

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