New York Jets special team coordinator Mike Westhoff has been known to take some chances over the course of his 26-year NFL coaching career. So when the Jets faced a 4th-and-11 from the Indianapolis 40-yard line with just under 3:00 minutes remaining in the second-quarter, Westhoff elected to roll the dice and put the ball in Tim Tebow’s hands.
New York’s personal punt protector not only moved the chains, but connected with linebacker Nick Bellore for a 23-yard reception. Four plays later, Mark Sanchez found wide receiver Jason Hill in the back of the end zone extending New York’s lead to 21-6 just before halftime. According to Tebow, the successful fourth-down conversion swung the pendulum in New York’s favor.
“If it works, it’s never too big of a gamble,” joked Tebow. “I guess any time you fake a punt, it’s going to be a little bit of a gamble. Coach Westhoff is pretty gutsy and I like that.”
“It felt really good. I felt like it gave us a lot of momentum and we punched it in for a touchdown.”
Tebow has been somewhat underutilized this year as New York’s Wildcat quarterback, but Westhoff is putting the former Heisman Trophy to work on special teams with the Jets now 3-for-3 on fake punt attempts this season. Westhoff and crew spent endless hours during training camp perfecting trick plays out of the punt formation, but Sunday’s pass play for Bellore was just recently installed into New York’s game plan.
“We work on it a lot,” noted Tebow. “That play just got put in this week. We’ve been working on some for a while, but that was just put in.”
While cornerback Antonio Cromartie made his case as Gang Green’s No. 2 receiving option, Bellore’s catch and run marked the Jets longest passing play of the day. While the Jets’ linebacker was an unlikely candidate for top receiving honors, Tebow was fully confident that Bellore would make the grab.
“He’s got good hands,” said Tebow. “I thought he had a chance to make the punt returner miss. We’ll give him a hard time about it.”