FLORHAM PARK, N.J.— The Jets needed a miracle.
Kenbrell Thompkins nearly gave them just that.
Trailing the Buffalo Bills by five in Sunday’s regular season finale, the Jets offense took the field knowing that in all likelihood, there were just 44 seconds left in their season. If the team couldn’t find a way to somehow travel 80 yards and score, New York would be kept out of the playoffs for a fifth-straight year.
After a nine-yard run on first down, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick setup in the shot gun. On the snap, he saw Thompkins wide open behind the defense near the right sideline. He lofted a ball deep, Thompkins got his hands on it…
Then Bills cornerback Mario Butler knocked it away.
“We had all go routes,” Thompkins said while cleaning out his locker the day after the Jets season officially ended. “Fitz threw the ball up there and gave me a chance. I tried to make the play, got my hands on it, but it was just knocked loose.”
The play is still one that is being played over and over again on repeat in the minds of so many associated with the Jets. The team was that close to pulling off what would have likely been the greatest game ending in team history. Instead, a play after the pass to Thompkins fell incomplete, Fitzpatrick was intercepted. Buffalo subsequently kneed the ball to end the game.
“Absolutely,” Thompkins said when asked if he thought he was going to make the grab. “I mean, when the ball is in the air, as a wide receiver our job is to go and make the play. That’s what I tried to do. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.”
Thompkins said he didn’t bobble the ball at any point, nor was the pass impacted at all by the 20 mile per hour winds. The only thing that dislodged the ball was the hit by Butler. Thompkins even went as far to say he knew that if he caught it, he was going to score.
Immediately after the game, it appeared as if he wasn’t the only one who shared that same sentiment. Speaking via press conference, fellow receiver Brandon Marshall said the Jets “had” their chances, adding the team “didn’t come through in the [receivers] room.” HIs comments, while not direct, seemed to be in reference to Thompkins "drop."
When told of Marshall’s remarks, Thompkins agreed.
“He’s right,” Thompkins said. “This is what we play the game for. You’ve got a young guy in the NFL trying to make a name for himself. [When] opportunities like that come your way, you want to make those plays.”
When asked directly if he thought he should have made the grab even with the contact, though, Thompkins said he “didn’t know.”
Originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Thompkins made his way to the Jets back in October after being cut by New England. He finished the season with 17 receptions for 165 yards. Thompkins will be a free agent come March.