With Antonio Allen on the field, the Jets secondary was faster and more efficient in a 37-27 win over the Raiders. Allen also had a fully extended punt block in the second quarter that helped give the Jets a major lift in a game they had to win.
For the past three weeks, Allen mostly rode the bench, with just 24 defensive snaps after he earned the starting job early in the season. The arrival of future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, who was supposed to be a difference maker for the secondary, pushed the second-year Allen to a support role. But the secondary has gotten worse, not better, with Reed getting the vast majority of snaps.
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Allen played more in Sunday's win over the Raiders than he has in the past three games combined. But it was a play in the fourth quarter where he nearly got an interception and instead gave up a completion that haunted him in the locker room, despite a strong performance that included three tackles.
“I can't really say that [I played well] as far as defense,” Allen said. “I got a pass caught on me — should have picked it. I undercut the ball but I should have picked it. Then they never would have scored that touchdown at the end of the game. That's a play I have to make. With the defensive reps I do get, I got to maximize my playing time and make something happen.”
In particular, Allen was strong in the run defense, where he used the instincts of a former college linebacker to play close to the line.
With 3:55 left in the second quarter, Allen made a play that put the Jets up 20-3 and gave them all the momentum heading into halftime.
All week long, the Jets had talked about how Raiders longsnapper Jon Condo doesn't drop back to the proper spot to block on punt protection. With the Raiders pinned back near their goal line, cornerback Ellis Lankster proved his versatility when he swung across the face of Condo like a hinge and threw the longsnapper off. Condo was nearly three yards up the field from the rest of the line which allowed Allen to run behind uncontested through the A gap.
After the game, Allen said “it felt weird” he was allowed in so clean but he extended his arms and blocked the punt with both hands. Then he showed good instincts and fell on the ball in the end zone for his second touchdown of the season.
“It's a great feeling. It puts momentum in the team, makes us want to go out there and fight harder,” Allen said. “We did that, came out there and got a win after three losses. It's pretty big.”
Traditionally, Allen lines up on the edge on punt block but was moved this week to take advantage of the tendencies of Condo.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.