In his second start with the Jets, Santonio Holmes turned in his first 100-yard receiving game with his new club and made the critical play in overtime as the Green & White escaped Detroit with a 23-20 victory.
“I think I played fast — I played the way I’m supposed to. I’m finally coming around,” Holmes told me this week on “Four Quarters.” “I’m only four games in and a lot of people probably forget that I missed the first four games of the season, so that definitely plays a big factor into how well you play and how fast you play. I think it’s definitely coming around right now. Practice has been good for myself, filling in the voids and being where I’m supposed to be and on time, catching the passes, being in the right place for Mark. I think it’s starting to roll around right now.”
After forcing overtime with a furious rally, Mark Sanchez got the Jets into field goal range on a 52-yard hookup with Holmes. That moved the visitors to the 16 and set up Nick Folk’s 30-yard field goal three plays later.
“It was a big play for us with Mark stepping up in the pocket at first. I never saw the fact that he bobbled the snap, but he definitely kept his focus and when he stepped up in the hole, my job is to turn my body to him and give him a clean target to throw the ball to and he put the ball right where it needed to be,” Holmes said. “I kind of felt the safety right after I caught it coming down to make a big hit and I avoided him by continuing to run through the catch and I ran around the guy.”
While it wasn’t a surprise that Holmes got free around midfield, it was a stunner that a linebacker, DeAndre Levy, caught him from behind and prevented a touchdown.
“It just so happened that I looked up at the big screen and I think that’s probably what got me and had me veering off a little to the left instead of running with my blocker, which was Jerricho, and I probably would have walked into the end zone freely,” said Holmes who finished with five receptions for 114 yards. “It allowed the linebacker to catch me at an angle, running almost back into his running lane.”
Some of his teammates were amazed that Holmes, who estimates that he probably still can post a high-4.3/mid-4.4 time in the 40, was actually caught and gave him bewildered looks. But the clutch catch and run made a fellow big-play receiver — Braylon Edwards — offer gratitude.
“I got tapped on the back on the sideline by Braylon and he said, ‘I really appreciate you, dude,’ ” Holmes said.
While a 20-10 deficit late in the fourth quarter made Jets Nation tremble, Holmes and the offense had a belief tank that was full.
“I can vividly remember myself being one of those guys on the sideline looking at every one of my starters in the face and saying, ‘Guys, we’re going to be OK.’ With Mark’s help in the huddle at the start of that last drive, he looked at everybody and said, ‘Let’s go down and win this game.’ And we believed,” Holmes said. “We never stopped believing that we could do it.”
Holmes will make a return to Ohio this weekend as the Jets look to push their record to 7-2. This is a familiar opponent for him as the Ohio State product and former Steeler has averaged four catches and 73 yards in his eight matchups against the Brownies.
“You’re definitely going to get a bunch of guys in the stands yelling at me ‘O-H-I-O.’ Those guys really love their Buckeyes in the state of Ohio,” said Holmes, who totaled 25 TDs in his collegiate career. “When I was in Pittsburgh, those guys booed me and cheered me on. Now being a Jet, I don’t know how they’re going to take it as far as me coming back.”
The Browns are feeling good about themselves after shutting down the likes of Drew Brees and Tom Brady in consecutive games. Holmes knows what to expect and he’ll be sharing some information with his quarterback as preparations continue.
“They like to mix up their coverages a lot. They’re a team that likes to disguise the safeties, they like to bring those guys down into the run game, they like to roll guys over the top, they have their cornerbacks drop and play very soft in Cover-2 and Cover-4, so they have guys running underneath your routes at the bottom from linebacker depth. And that’s something that is very confusing to a lot of teams,” he said.
“I know once we get into our game-planning for the rest of this week, sitting in the meetings with Mark and being confident with him and letting him know all the different types of things that the Cleveland Browns do — being that I played against those guys for four years — is definitely going to help us just go out and play football.”
In the moments leading up to kickoff, Holmes will put his music on low and review the playbook to refresh his memory. He takes his craft seriously and has set the bar high for the remainder of the year.
“We get graded every week, when we play, on our performance throughout the whole game. This week I graded out at a 92. That’s something I’m going to pride myself on that I don’t go anywhere below that,” he said. “When I was in Pittsburgh for four years, not one of my tests went below a 92 or 93. I definitely want to do the same thing here now that I’m a starter for the Jets.”
EA’s “Four Quarters” feature with Santonio Holmes will be up on newyorkjets.com Friday, including highlight footage from Tone’s Ohio State days.
Tags: Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes
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