I've come to appreciate Jeremy Kerley as a punt returner this year. Yes, he offers no threat whatsoever, but he's been reliable at fielding the ball and on a special teams unit that can't otherwise seem to get out of its own way, that's appreciated because an ill-timed muff would strike me as the kind of thing this team wouldn't respond well to.
However, this week, Kerley annoyed me a little bit. At least three times, it seemed like he had a ton of room to run but he didn't make the most of it. The Texans have been susceptible to return yardage over the course of the season, but Kerley was unable to exploit this, dancing around and ultimately going nowhere on one play and then indecisively running towards the sideline and out of bounds on the other two.
The blocking in front of Kerley was perhaps not the best, but he still seemed like he could have done better on those plays. He also seemed to cut a forlorn figure on the sidelines even after Brandon Marshall's game-tying touchdown, so I wonder if he's started going through the motions, seeing the writing on the wall for next year.
His returns brought back memories of Santana Moss, who I coined "The Crab" when he similarly checked out in 2004, giving a poor effort on returns and in terms of going over the middle with a contract extension - one the Jets couldn't afford and ultimately side-stepped by trading him - looming on the horizon. I called him the crab because he basically ran laterally and then just ran straight out of bounds on nearly every punt return like he was only capable of going sideways. Kerley wasn't as bad as that, but did leave some yards on the field.
Other than this, there wasn't much to report on special teams. In the kicking game, Randy Bullock made a field goal and kicked three touchbacks. Ryan Quigley had two nice punts - it was almost three, but he put one in the end zone. Tanner Purdum had a bad snap and one punt was nearly blocked as Erin Henderson left a rusher unblocked and Calvin Pryor double-teamed instead of picking that up.
On kick returns, Antonio Cromartie had a good one out to the 40. He was stuffed inside the 20 on one though, as Leger Douzable missed his block.
Finally, in coverage, the likes of Buster Skrine, Rontez Miles and Kellen Davis made nice tackles and Henderson combined with Trevor Reilly to force a fumble, although how he didn't recover it, I'll never know. Miles also nearly blocked a punt but Skrine was called for a personal foul which turned a 45-yard net punt into a 71-yard net punt in the fourth quarter.
Next up…Our final wrap-up, giving you the links to all today's articles and the opportunity to read the whole thing in one go…