Jets safety Antonio Allen welcomed Blake Antonio Allen, the first child with wife Trier, into the world last week. Then, on Sunday, Allen had a crucial pick-six in the third quarter which turned the momentum for the Jets in their 30-27 overtime win over the Patriots.
Allen would dedicate the play to his newborn son — “Don't tell my wife that,” he said with a grin — but the Jets might want to dedicate the season to their second-year safety's pivotal play. On the second play of the third quarter, on their own 14-yard line, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dropped back and fired a pass intended for tight end Rob Gronkowski. It was a play the Patriots had run effectively throughout the game.
Allen sat underneath in coverage, stepped up to make the interception and returned the ball 23 yards to cut the Patriots' lead to 21-17. He knew the route was coming and responded.
“Sort of, kind of. He got me a couple times on the same route, but I actually broke on a couple of them too,” Allen said. “He was giving me the same route all game.”
Allen honed in on Gronkowski for much of the second half. He played physically and kept his eyes glued on the massive Patriots tight end and limited his big-play ability.
Gronkowski still had a strong day, with eight catches for 114 yards, but Allen's hard work had a hand in the tight end being far less effective than he could have been. Gronkowski was targeted on 17 occasions and missed by Brady more than half the time.
Yet, it will be the play almost immediately after halftime that will be Allen's calling card from a day where he had nine tackles, tied for the team high.
“It's always in my mindset to make a big play. Every game, I always try to get a pick somewhere,” Allen said. “Coming out from halftime, we knew we had to do something to shift the momentum. [I] came out and made a play and it was pretty big for us.”
The touchdown is likely the height of Allen's brief career with the Jets to date. He worked his way up the depth chart to the two-deep at the start of the season. And now as one of the starting safeties, he's always maintained a resilient work ethic.
Allen was in a hurry to get out of the locker room for a postgame X-ray on his right leg and then go see his new family. He was especially eager to see a son who, at a week old, was too young to know his father's touchdown play was dedicated to him.
“His middle name might be pick-six now,” Allen said with a laugh.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.