Florham Park, NJ – Just in time for the holidays, the Jets got a little Cole on Sunday, Marquice Cole that is.
The versatile Jets defensive back hasn’t seen that much of the field outside of special teams and situational duty in the secondary, but Sunday provided a glimpse into the fourth year player’s talent. On the last play of the game, Cole deflected a Ben Roethlisberger pass intended for Pittsburgh’s Matt Spaeth to preserve a 22-17 Jets win in addition to downing a fourth quarter Steve Weatherford punt inside Pittsburgh’s five-yard line. On the next play, Jason Taylor had a safety to give the Jets a 22-17 lead.
But it was the play at the end of the game that got the attention. Cole, however, says that he didn’t catch the highlight splashed all over television, instead seeing it for the first time while watching game film with the team.
“Tipped it just a little bit, barely changing the trajectory a little bit,” Cole said.
Cole has just 14 tackles on the year but the plays on Sunday showed the clutch quality of the cornerback and the possible emergence of the player as a difference maker. And for a player five weeks removed from a serious concussion, the big-time deflection and downed punt proved that he’s back and capable. Despite the big nature of the plays in preserving a Jets lead in an impressive road win, he didn’t dwell on it long.
“It was good when it happened [but] right after that, you move on,” Cole said.
Calling it his most complete game in the NFL, Cole was singled out on Monday by Jets head coach Rex Ryan for his solid play and his ability to add depth to a secondary depleted by injury. With the Jets having lost Jim Leonhard for the year, James Ihedigbo slowed by knee and ankle injuries and Eric Smith recovering from a concussion, Cole put his best foot forward on Sunday and stepped up. The emergence of Cole has been an asset to the Jets and in particular, secondary coach Dennis Thurman.
He said that he was flooded with text messages, voice mails and Facebook messages after the game from friends and family congratulating him.
“That was definitely the biggest play I’ve made since I’ve been in the pros,” Cole said.