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Punt and kick returner killed the Jets, unless he was saving them

There were two fumbles, two long kickoff returns and a failure to make a fair catch that cost the Jets badly needed field position.

Andre Roberts’ day was as unpredictable as the weather.

“Up-and-down game,” he said following the Jets’ ugly 37-17 loss to the Vikings at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. “I feel like obviously I’ve played a lot better games and today was not my best effort. Just got to look at the tape and try to work harder to execute things I should be doing.”

He was fortunate not to lose either fumble, one bouncing out of bounds during a kickoff return and the other recovered by the Jets following a muffed punt. Late in the third quarter, he opted not to call a fair catch, and instead of solid field position, the Jets were backed up to their own 8-yard line. It resulted in a three-and-out and a short field for the Vikings on an afternoon full of such situations.

The windy conditions obviously played a part, but Roberts didn’t use that as an excuse.

“You know what the wind was like out there. Everybody knows what it was,” Roberts said. “But it affected both teams and I just have to be better.”

His two kick returns in the second half were significant. His first, a 53-yard run, led to a Jets field goal in the third quarter. The other big return he took 42 yards, leading to a touchdown in the fourth quarter that trimmed the deficit to 27-17. His previous big returns this year had come on punts — he took one 78 yards to the house in Week 1 and was averaging 21.5 yards per return — but he made an impact on kickoffs Sunday, averaging 32.1 yards on six chances.

“We just executed better this game,” said Roberts, who was also used as a wide receiver and had two catches for 21 yards.

Roberts’ performance was symbolic of the team’s special-teams effort. The Jets committed four penalties in that phase, routinely shooting themselves in the foot. Aside from Roberts, early in the second quarter, there was a poor snap by Thomas Hennessy that led to a 28-yard Lachlan Edwards punt and Vikings field goal. Jason Myers kicked a 55-yard field goal after setting a franchise record with seven made field goals last week.

The unit entered the game ranked second by but took a step back Sunday.

“Every time you give up field position in a game like this against a good team, you’re going to have a problem,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “We can’t make that mistake.”

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