The New York Jets’ loss to the New England Patriots was even more frustrating for the Jets and their fans than most losses.
With eight minutes left in the game, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins thought he had found the end zone for a score that would bring the Jets within a field goal of the Patriots. The play was called a touchdown on the field, and because it was a scoring play, it was automatically reviewed.
The referee came back with what was the worst possible scenario for the Jets — the touchdown was called off and the ball was given to the Patriots. It was determined that Seferian-Jenkins lost control of the ball before crossing the goal line and did not recover possession of the ball until he was out of bounds. The play was ruled a touchback and the Patriots took over with the ball and a ten-point lead.
After the game, the Jets had some harsh words for the decision.
“I’m pretty sure everybody is going to look back and say that was a B.S. call,” said wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
“For most of us, the last thing on our mind was a touchback,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “I thought at least it would [be] down on the one [-yard line] and we’d still have the ball and still have a chance to score a touchdown.”
Seferian-Jenkins was even-keeled about the call given the unfortunate circumstances.
“I don’t think it does any good to blast the officials or blast the rule. The rule is the rule. It is what it is. I have to do a better job of ball security. I feel like I let my team down.”
While the call would not have given the Jets the lead, it was a game-changing play that took all the wind out of the sails of the New York team that was just beginning to build some momentum again. Had the play stood, the Jets would have needed just one stop and a field goal to force overtime. Instead, Tom Brady had the ball with a ten-point lead looking to kill some clock.
As Mike Florio noted, the decision was probably called correctly, the problem is that the rule itself is unfair. Had Seferian-Jenkins fumbled out of bounds inches short of the end zone, the Jets would have had first and goal going in. Instead, because the ball technically went out of bounds at the goal line, possession changed hands. While you can debate whether or not there was “clear and obvious” evidence of the ball being loose before crossing the line, it was most likely that this was the correct application of one bummer of a rule.
The Jets lost 24-17, ending their unlikely run of three straight victories and giving the Patriots sole possession of first place in the AFC East for the first time this season. New York will have the chance to bounce back next Sunday, when they travel to Miami to take on Jay Cutler and the Dolphins.
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