Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Punting Game Is Proving to Be Key; Latest Example Is Greene's Return, Which Set Up Jags' Winning TD

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Punting Game Is Proving to Be Key; Latest Example Is Greene's Return, Which Set Up Jags' Winning TD

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino

The Jaguars have been conducting a clinic on the importance of the punting game.

A fourth-quarter punt has played a critical role in deciding the team's last three games.

Two muffs led to touchdowns - one muff by the Jaguars in the loss to the New Jets and the one they recovered against the Baltimore Ravens - and then rookie Rashad Greene returned a punt 63 yards to set up the game-winning touchdown Thursday night in the 19-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

In the Jets game, Nick Marshall's muff was recovered by New York's Kellen Davis on the Jaguars' 25 with 3:37 left in the game. The Jets scored three plays later to take a 28-16 lead and won 28-23.

In the Ravens game, Bryan Anger hit a 47-yard punt that Jeremy Ross muffed, and Marshall recovered on the Baltimore 37 with 14 minutes left. Five plays later, Blake Bortles threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Allen Robinson.

Without that touchdown, Elvis Dumervil's facemask penalty that set up Jason Myers' game-winning field goal wouldn't have made a difference because the Ravens would have taken a 20-13 lead when they scored on their next possession. Instead, the Ravens led only 20-19, and the Jaguars won 22-20.

In the Titans game, Brett Kern hit a low 44-yard punt that Greene caught in full stride. He went 63 yards to the Titans' 5 with 3:34 left, and Bortles threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Julius Thomas on the next play.

Meanwhile, Anger had his best punting day of the season with a 44.3 net average and dropped three inside the 20.

The return by Greene, in his first game back after going on the short term injured reserve list with a thumb injury and missing seven games, might mean the Jaguars have found their punt returner of the future.

The Jaguars went into the season looking for a punt returner because Ace Sanders, their punt returner last year, was cut. Sanders returned 32 punts for 227 yards last year, averaging only 7.1 a return.

Greene was a contender for the punt return job after he was drafted in the fifth round because he returned 38 punts at Florida State for 465 yards, an average of 12.2 yards a return, including two touchdowns. …

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