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Muffed punt steals momentum from New York Jets in loss to Oakland Raiders

By Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange
Muffed punt steals momentum from New York Jets in loss to Oakland Raiders
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles stands on the sidelines in the first quarter of a preseason game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on August 26, 2017. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The New York Jets had scored 10 straight points, cutting the Oakland Raiders' lead to 14-10, then forced a punt late in the first half Sunday at Oakland Coliseum.

The Jets had momentum and even a chance to take a lead into halftime. Then Kalif Raymond muffed Marquette King's booming punt along the sideline and Oakland wideout Johnny Horton recovered at the Jets' 4-yard line. Three plays later, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch scored on a 2-yard run.

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Raymond called his fumble a "big-time" blow to the Jets in a 45-20 loss.

"I think it was definitely a momentum swing," Raymond said. "You got a job to do, then you've got to go back there and do it. I think it was a big change in the game. It's definitely one I wish I could have back."

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It was a sunny day in Oakland, and Raymond was asked if the sun got in his eyes.

"No, man," Raymond said. "I'm not going to make any excuses. You've got to catch the ball. You're a punt returner. You've got to do it. Just have to stay focused. That's one of the easier kicks in the game and I took it for granted."

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Raiders rookie cornerback Gareon Conley, a first-round pick from Ohio State, made his NFL debut after missing Oakland's season-opening 26-16 win at Tennessee.

Conley didn't start but spent much of the day in the nickel defense at right cornerback, with TJ Carrie moving inside to the slot.

"I did alright," Conley said. "We got the (win). That's all that matters, honestly. I played hard. I'm always playing hard for my team."

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Jets quarterback Josh McCown tested Conley late in the first quarter on a first down play from the Raiders' 43. McCown tried to hit wide receiver Jermaine Kearse on the left side, but Conley made a leaping play and batted the ball away.

"I should have picked it," Conley said.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio had no complaints.

"I thought he played well," Del Rio said. "They tried him early. He defended that ball, nearly intercepted it."

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Strong safety Karl Joseph had one of the Raiders' four sacks and was a disruptive force throughout the game on blitzes.

Joseph had a strip-sack of Jets quarterback Josh McCown and recovered the fumble at New York's 18-yard line with 12:37 left. Two plays later, Derek Carr hit Michael Crabtree with a 1-yard touchdown pass, increasing Oakland's lead to 42-13.

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"We had some tackles for loss with him coming off the edge," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said of Joseph. "We had a nice sack fumble there. Yeah, we got different ways to bring different people, and he got his number called a few times today. It was good to see. I thought he had a good game for us."

The Raiders drafted Joseph with the No. 14 pick in the first round in 2016.

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