All week long, Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow endured questions about the possibility of him being a starter and, of course, how much the Wildcat offense would be used. Instead, it was his role on special teams that proved to be a momentum changer.
With the game at 14-6 and nearing halftime, Tebow took a snap on a punt and calmly found reserve linebacker Nick Bellore on a short pass that turned into a 23-yard gain over the middle. Four plays later, quarterback Mark Sanchez found Jason Hill for a 5-yard touchdown pass and a 21-6 lead heading into the locker room. Tebow said he felt like the fake punt “gave us momentum.”
For a Jets team that had given up turnovers and scores heading into halftime the previous two weeks, Tebow’s pass to Bellore was a much-needed lift in a game that was relatively tight at that point.
- Celebrity deaths 2018: All the stars we lost too soon 46 Pictures
- Photos: Starbucks Reserve Roastery NYC reconnects you with your coffee 48 Pictures
“You have to keep being creative and keep them off balance and have the ability to go different things when you’re at the line,” Tebow said. “We have several things we could have gone to and we felt that was the right one.”
The play was installed just this week and utilized the element of surprise since Bellore is not known as a pass-catching threat. It was the first catch of Bellore’s NFL career and while he said he still needs to work on his yards after the catch, the play was nevertheless key.
Bellore said that the pass “seemed like it was in slow motion” and admits that because no one was around him, he was afraid he might drop it. He kept the possibilities of being involved in the trick play under wraps, even with his family.
“[I] thought about telling my dad, but I decided he could see it and be surprised from the stands,” Bellore said.
One person who was tipped off about it was Jets owner Woody Johnson.
“Woody before the game said ‘Can Bellore catch?’ I said ‘Oh yeah, absolutely’ and I’m thinking ‘Oh please catch it,’” head coach Rex Ryan said. “He did a great job [but] we have to work on his moves. That little head fake — [his] body stayed in the same direction. We have to work on that.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for breaking news on Gang Green.