When Jets kicker Nick Folk drilled a 56-yard field goal on Sunday, Denver made it easy on him — and I’m not just talking about the Mile High elevation.
The Broncos had only nine players on the field for the kick, as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News pointed out on Twitter and I just confirmed with the help of my DVR and DirecTV’s “Short Cut” of the game.
The Broncos’ mistake is a strange one. For starters, longer kicks typically have a lower trajectory, so you’d think Denver would make absolutely certain that they had as many players on the field trying to block the kick as they could. Why did no one on the Denver sideline check to make sure everyone on the field goal block unit was on the field?
And a field goal that comes up short can be returned, so it’s also surprising that the Broncos didn’t have anyone deep in the end zone ready to catch Folk’s kick if it came up short.
Perhaps that’s where a miscommunication happened: Maybe the Broncos have a player on the field goal block unit who comes off when they send someone else onto the field for long field goals, ready to make a return if the kick is short. And maybe both of those players thought the other one was going out there. But even if that did happen, the Broncos should have had 10 players on the field, not nine.
It’s actually a little surprising that the Jets didn’t notice and audible to a fake field goal: The way the Broncos’ field goal block unit was lined up, with only nine players on the field and all of them bunched near the line of scrimmage, a fake field goal would have had a good chance of producing a touchdown.
In any event, it was a pretty big screw up by the Broncos.