An inch made all the difference Sunday in a game between the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts.
With the Jets leading, 25-20, Colt safety Tate Randle recovered a Freeman McNeil fumble and returned it eight yards to the Jet 14 early in the fourth period.
Two running plays got the Colts to the five, where they had a third-and-one.
Albert Bentley tried to vault over the line, but was stopped, setting up a fourth and inches. This time, Bentley was smothered by defensive end Marty Lyons, preserving the 25-20 victory.
“We were well prepared for what they do on short yardage,” Lyons said. “I beat the tackle from the cutoff block. He had nowhere to go.”
Bentley thought he made the first down on his first try. “I thought it was bad mark on third down,” he said. “I thought I definitely had the first down, but once the referees make a decision it will stay.”
Pat Leahy missed an extra point for the first time in his last 47 tries, but he made up for it with field goals of 22, 35, 48 and 45 yards as the Jets built a 25-17 lead after three quarters, scoring touchdowns on a 39-yard flea-flicker pass from Ken O’Brien to Kurt Sohn, and on a one-yard dive by Tony Paige.
Sohn finished with a career-high eight catches for 112 yards.
Indianapolis’ first touchdown came on a 72-yard pass play in the second period to trim New York’s lead to 15-10 as Mike Pagel hit Ray Butler, who eluded linebacker Charles Jackson at the Colts’ 35. Pagel then found tight end Pat Beach for a 16-yard score to pull the Colts within 18-17 before Paige’s touchdown set the stage for the game-ending drama.