Kicker Nick Folk, once unwanted, now hero for Jets
Two months ago, it seemed like Jets kicker Nick Folk’s days with the team were numbered. Now, he has three clutch field goals on the Jets’ final possession of a game this year and it is unthinkable he wouldn’t be on the roster.
It was Aug. 24 and the Jets were in overtime of their third preseason game against the Giants. Folk had a chance to win the game outright for the Jets as he lined up for a 39-yard field goal. It should have been an automatic field goal and a win for the Jets. His effort somehow went wide but it didn’t count as the Giants had called a timeout just a moment before attempt. So Folk lined up again for a kick he surely couldn’t miss twice.
But as every Jets fan knows, Folk missed this one as well and it was Billy Cundiff who ran out onto the field later in overtime to make the game-winner.
The Jets cut Cundiff days later and brought in veteran kicker Dan Carpenter with the hope he would win the kicking competition. He didn’t impress and as Sunday’s 42-yard field goal in overtime proved, the Jets are glad to have Folk.
“It feels good. I knew I had it in me. I had to put it all together,” Folk told Metro. “I’m in a good rhythm right now with [long snapper] Tanner [Purdum]. I think the whole special teams unit is playing well right now. But for me? Yeah, it felt good. You always want to make a game-winning field goal. But yeah, three of them this season is pretty special.”
The kick on Sunday was reminiscent of the Giants preseason game when he missed his first attempt to win the game. But this time, he didn’t miss the second one.
Folk lined up for, and missed, a 56-yard field goal attempt to win it in overtime. Yet, the Jets and Folk were given a second chance as a Patriots penalty negated the miss and moved the Jets 15 yards closer. Three plays later and Folk hit the winner in their 30-27 triumph.
Folk, who has made all 16 of his field goal attempts this season, is now the most reliable person on the Jets’ roster. Even at the original distance of 56 yards, Folk ran onto the field wanting the opportunity to win the game.
He connected on an effort from 58 yards in pregame warmups which gave him confidence he could nail this one.
“I knew it was going to be a long one. I ran out onto the field and [head coach] Rex [Ryan] was a few yards [away] and I was walking out there,” Folk said. “I wanted it. If I didn’t want it, I would have been hiding behind someone. But I wanted it and he knew I wanted it so I just ran out there. I tried to drive it a little bit. I felt a little breeze in my face. I caught it a little too high.”
But a second chance breathed fresh life into what has been an improbable season for the 4-3 Jets.
It is the reason why Ryan is calling him “Folk hero” these days. Three game-winning field goals and suddenly a man the Jets were looking to cast to the curb is clutch.
“I just wanted it,” Folk said. “No doubts. No ifs, no ands and no buts. I wanted the opportunity. And I got it.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.