The difference was night and day for the Jets' offense with Jeremy Kerley inserted into the lineup after being sidelined for the past few weeks due to a dislocated left elbow. Geno Smith's safety valve return to action and gave the Jets' offense a burst; posting 37 points in their win against the Oakland Raiders.
Constantly finding holes in the secondary, Kerley was able to corral four of Smith's passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. Kerley has missed four games this season but still leads all Jets receivers in catches (32), yards (388) and touchdowns (3).
"Jeremy did a great job at just going up to make a play. I gave him an opportunity and he went up and made a play," said Smith on Kerley's 25-yard touchdown. "He had a great release off the ball, pretty much one-on-one coverage. A few guys got back there at the end but he went up and he snatched it out of the air and pulled it down for a touchdown."
It was the first passing touchdown the Jets have registered in the past seven weeks and it was Kerley's third of the season. The touchdown gave the Jets a 10-0 lead and renewed confidence in the third year veteran.
"It felt good. I felt good about the game plan. I felt good about the weather. I felt good about my arm. Everything just felt right, so catching that was icing on the cake," said Kerley.
The Jets have struggled mightily this season when Kerley is out of action. They are 0-4 in games that he hasn't suited up for and have scored a mere 30 points combined in those games. Those numbers aren't going to get it done and that is a key reason why his return was so integral to the Jets after coming off of three straight losses.
"I think Jeremy, we were 0-4 without him, so I think it obviously makes a big difference the kind of slot receiver he is," said head coach Rex Ryan. "He can get open. He has great hands. He competes. He has great run after the catch (ability) and he's a good route runner. Obviously when he's healthy, it makes a big difference."
Kerley will try to make that same impact next week when the Jets take on a stingy Panthers' defense.