Ole Miss product Kenny Yeboah is a New York Jets preseason hero
August walk-offs are often reserved for victorious playoff runs in The Bronx and Queens. On Friday night, however, the concept produced a tie in East Rutherford.
Tight end Kenny Yeboah set up the unusual result at the end of the New York Jets‘ 2021 preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. The undrafted rookie was the recipient of James Morgan‘s last-second heave from 49 yards out that allowed the Jets to escape with a 31-31 tie after Josh Adams ran in the two-point conversion via draw play.
Well lookie here … Kenny Yeboah answers the preseason prayer. Jets line up to go for the obvious 2-pt attempt. pic.twitter.com/1Ff3WLvuKI
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) August 28, 2021
It’s the first tie under the NFL’s new three-game preseason format, which eliminated overtime periods in exhibition contests.
Yeboah has become a bit of a folk hero for his role in one of the more unusual contests in the already-goofy landscape of the NFL preseason. His teammates have been particularly supportive and head coach Robert Saleh also bestowed the game ball to Yeboah after praising his team for keeping its sense of fight, even in a supposedly meaningless preseason game.
— Elijah Moore (@e_moore03) August 28, 2021
— Michael Carter (@8kMike) August 28, 2021
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 28, 2021
The catch and Adams’ subsequent punch-in set off a joyful celebration on the Jets’ sidelines, as players disregarded the lack of consequences to celebrate a team victory. New York (2-0-1) erased a two-touchdown deficit in a game that was delayed by a half-hour due to thunderstorms in the East Rutherford area.
“Even though I wasn’t on the field, just to experience that whole situation is very exciting,” Friday’s starting quarterback Josh Johnson said of the moment, per NJ.com’s Joey Chandler. “Those two young guys (Yeboah and Morgan), just to have that moment, a lot of guys don’t get to experience that.”
In addition to creating the first overtime-free tie under the new preseason format, Yeboah made more summer history by becoming the first Jets tight end to reach triple digits in yardage in a preseason game since Rich Caster in 1973. Such history allowed him to cash in on a major opportunity in the final preseason game.
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Undrafted out of Mississippi, Yeboah had one more opportunity to impress the coaching staff as he attempts to make the Jets roster. Primary tight end Tyler Kroft was one of many starters held out of Friday’s contest. Chris Herndon and Daniel Brown were each quiet in their showings, but Yeboah reached the century mark on four receptions and also helped the Jets narrow the gap to one point on a 21-yard scoring hook-up with Morgan earlier in the final frame.
With the Jets looking for the best-case scenario of a tie on the final drive, Yeboah was called upon to partake in the final play due to his large hands, one of several receivers streaking to the end zone in the desperate attempt for a deadlock. It was Yeboah’s gloves that surfaced in the sea of green, securing the score that eventually created a tie game.
“We’re running out there, lining up, and me and the receivers were talking, ‘We’ve got to make this play,’ ” Yeboah said in a report from team writer Randy Lange. “We lined up in a bunch format outside the numbers. One person’s long, one person’s short, one person’s in the middle,” It’s basically a jump ball.
“I just ran down the field, looked up, the ball was coming, and I said, ‘Oh, yeah, I can make this play,'” he continued. “I was so happy. I made the play and Josh finished it off. I was so ecstatic.”
Time will tell if Yeboah’s epic showing on Friday will earn him a permanent spot in New York for the 2021 season. NFL rosters are mandated to cutdown to their standard haul of 53 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. The Jets open their season on Sept. 12 against the Carolina Panthers (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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