Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
NFL senior vice-president of officiating Alberto Riveron has some explaining to do.
The New York Jets fell 24-17 to the New England Patriots Sunday at MetLife Stadium, New Jersey. On the surface, the outcome isn't surprising since the Patriots won five of the previous six against their rival.
But the most perplexing play of the 2017 campaign occurred during this contest with no satisfactory explanation from officials who overturned what appeared to be a sure touchdown. This instance only magnified what appeared to be a pro-Patriots slant from the zebras.
Before going any further, a macro-view of the situation needs to be addressed.
On paper, the contest seemed to be evenly called. Both teams were penalized six times. The Patriots lost 46 yards due to calls, while the Jets were set back 69 yards.
The subjective nature that appeared to favor the reigning Super Bowl champions should be brought into question, though.
Everything culminated in a befuddling fumble call that negated an Austin Seferian-Jenkins touchdown despite not being a fumble nor short of the end zone. NFL Update provided video of play:
NFL Update @MySportsUpdate
This #Jets TD was overturned by the refs after review. Ruling was he fumbled out of bounds into the end zone. Huh? https://t.co/jECoroL1ia
What makes matters worse is the fact officials originally called the play a touchdown and overturned the ruling after review. According to referee Tony Corrente, the tight end fumbled the ball over the sideline in the end zone which resulted in a touchback, per Randy Lange of the New York Jets' official site.
OK, let's try to understand the call to the best of our ability.
Is the ball knocked loose by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler? Yes.
A few things could have happened once the ball came loose. Seferian-Jenkins could have outright dropped or continued to bobble the ball, but that doesn't appear to be the case.
Even if Corrente felt he continued to bobble the ball—which is a legitimate argument—the tight end seemed to regain control before he even hit the pylon.
No indisputable evidence exists to overturn the call. At worst, Corrente should have sided with the play as called on the field. He did try to explain himself after the contest, per Volin:
Ben Volin @BenVolin
Referee Tony Corrente said Austin Sefarian-Jenkins didn't "survive the recovery" and said one camera angle made it an obvious call https://t.co/wxwDRFVOc1
Apparently, a second bobble occurred that no one with an untrained eye could see.
Jets wide receiver Jermaine Kearse summed it up best, per Vacchiano, "I thought it was a B.S. call."
In all fairness to NFL officials, they're asked to make split-second decisions. Calls will be missed due to the human element that exists within the game. Most replay scenarios prove to be effective. But game-defining plays shouldn't be overturned based on minimal information, especially after being called a touchdown.
"I feel like I scored," Seferian-Jenkins said, per Andy Vasquez of the Record. "But at the end of the day, the refs called what the refs called."
The timing of the overturned play made matters even worse.
The Jets trailed 24-14 in the third quarter with a chance to swing momentum in their favor. Instead of being down three points, New York still trailed by 10.
A fourth-quarter Chandler Catanzaro field goal should have tied the game. It didn't because of the inexcusable replay reversal.
Seferian-Jenkins stood in front of the media after the game and accepted blame for something he shouldn't have.
"I've got to have better ball security and run through those defenders," the fourth-year veteran said, per Vacchiano. "I let my team down."
The tight end did no such thing. He caught eight passes for 46 yards and the game's first touchdown. He didn't allow the Patriots to score 24 unanswered points.
Could he have controlled the ball better? Sure. This train of thought discredits Butler's role in the play even during what still looked like a touchdown.
Another questionable call went against the Jets as well.
Safety Jamal Adams aided the Patriots' first touchdown when the rookie defensive back was called for pass interference against All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. The penalty placed the Patriots on the 1-yard line, where Dion Lewis scored on the very next play.New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski with a reception against New York Jets safety Jamal Adams.Bill Kostroun/Associated Press/Associated Press
Gronkowski is impossible to cover even when officials aren't helping him. At 6'6" and 265 pounds, he's too big for most defensive backs to handle. It's even harder when he bodies up those same defenders and appears to push off like he did against Adams.
The two aforementioned plays led to a 10-point swing in the Patriots' favor. The Jets might be better than expected this season, but they aren't good enough to overcome these type of calls.
"We had other plays in the game that we could have made to make up for that," head coach Todd Bowles said during his postgame press conference, per Pro Football Talk's Josh Alper. "I'm not gonna blame this game on one play.
It isn't the Jets against the world, either. That's far from the point.
The maddening inconsistency found within the NFL's officiating is felt every weekend throughout the league.
No one knows what constitutes an NFL catch (or fumble, apparently). Pass interference is called far too often. A team can't return a kick or punt without a flag being thrown. And quarterbacks are protected to a ridiculous level.
Overall, the Jets fell to 3-3, because they didn't make enough plays. Even so, Bowles' squad proved it's good enough to compete with the big bad Patriots if a call or two goes its way.
The league needs to provide proof the calls were correct because they didn't look that way for those of us who aren't officials.
This news has been published by title Twitter Enraged By Questionable Calls In Patriots\' Favor
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