After Further Review: Jets-Broncos Officiating

By popular demand, we're again going to have a post after each game that breaks down some of the controversial decisions from the officiating crew in the game.

Penalty Count

Broncos 4-31 (leading to zero Jets first downs)
Jets 9-71 (leading to three Broncos first downs)

Note: This does not include penalties that are declined or off-set.

Plays where the call was obvious, uncontroversial or not visible on broadcast footage

Jets Penalties

  • Allen Lazard false start. Flinched before the ball was snapped.
  • Too many men on the field. A bizarre scene saw Ashtyn Davis, Micheal Clemons and Al Woods all trying to get off the field and the Broncos still got stuffed for a loss somehow.
  • Holding on Nick Bawden. Executed the cut block but then appeared to grab his man's foot to prevent him from getting back up to chase the quarterback.
  • Holding on Connor McGovern. Seemed like a pretty clear takedown at the point of attack.

Broncos Penalties

  • Holding on Garett Bolles. Had a grip of Clemons with his hands inside but then held onto that too long as Wilson escaped the pocket.
  • Offside on Jonathon Cooper. Had lined up in the neutral zone anyway and then took a step too early before the snap. This perhaps should have been deemed encroachment but was definitely a penalty.

Penalties warranting further discussion or explanation

Jets Penalties

  • Illegal contact on CJ Mosley. Mosley was 8-9 yards downfield when he bumped the receiver. Had he bumped him with his body to make this look incidental/inadvertent, he might have got away with it, but he extended his arms on a two-handed shove.
  • False start on Mekhi Becton. Looked like he timed the snap perfectly. McGovern ducks his head at the start of his snapping motion and Becton definitely moved after that. If you slow it down to see whether Becton moves before the ball, it's 1-2 frames at most. Considering the leeway officials give to linemen dropping into their stance as the ball is snapped this has to go down as a harsh call and Becton himself criticized it on social media.
  • Quincy Williams late hit (originally called incorrectly on Mosley). This was really soft as Williams tried to do everything he could to avoid forcible contact and not land on Russell Wilson as he slid. However, their helmets did collide and that's pretty much guaranteed to be called every time as long as it's not a Jets player receiving the hit. This was more unlucky than reckless.
  • Chazz Surratt holding on a punt. Surratt lined up on the defensive line and then wrapped up his blocker after the ball was punted to prevent him from running downfield. That negated the fair catch interference (see below).
  • Roughing the passer on Bryce Huff. Came in with late pressure and was upright and jumping into the quarterback. When that happens, helmet and facemask will always collide giving rise to a penalty (or a no-call if it happens to a Jets quarterback). Again, more unlucky than reckless because this may not have been forcible contact if he didn't jump and he probably jumped mainly to contest the pass.
  • Defensive holding on Bryce Hall. This negated Mosley's sack on the two-point conversion and might, all else being equal, have affected the Jets' gameplan at the end. Up five late, the Jets might have been more conservative in field goal range and ran the ball to force Denver to use their final timeout before kicking to go up eight, instead of risking an interception. As for the call itself, it was a bit soft but Hall did put his arm across the receiver and impede his progress slightly.

Broncos Penalties

  • Holding on Adam Trautman. Held onto his block on John Franklin-Myers on the edge. This one may have been a bit soft because Franklin-Myers didn't seem to have any complaints.
  • Intentional grounding on Wilson in the end zone for a safety. Wilson was still in the pocket and the pass didn't reach the line of scrimmage so it's a definite grounding call as long as there's no receiver in the area. He did throw it in the general direction of a running back in the wide flat, much like Patrick Mahomes did last week, but it was nowhere near him. An obvious call, even if Sean Payton didn't like it.
  • Fair catch interference on Tremon Smith. First of all, this is a clear penalty because Smith prevented Xavier Gipson from having an opportunity to catch the ball after a clear fair catch signal. Where it gets messy is with the spot of the ball:

As the ball bounced away from Gipson, Justin Hardee fell on it down inside the 20. Had it been a fumble, that would have been where the ball was spotted and the enforcement of any penalties would take place from there. Although there was offsetting penalties on the play, this one is a personal foul so the Jets would still get five yards from the spot of the ball if they chose to take the penalty there.

Robert Saleh may have believed this would be applied from where the ball was recovered, so he opted for a re-kick even though the last three punts had been two fumbles and a near-fumble. However, the official ruling would have been that the punt was downed by the defensive player where it hit him at the 30 (and, in fact, any Jets player could then pick it up and try and run with it and there would be no consequences even if they then fumbled but they could get credit for a return if they got past the 30). That didn't happen though. The Jets ultimately lost seven yards when the re-kicked punt went out of bounds.

Notable no-calls etc

Here were some of the other notable missed calls, replay situations and controversial moments:

  • The Jets got screwed somewhat on Denver's fumbled punt, which was ruled a muff by the officials. It wasn't - the return man caught the ball and then Irv Charles stripped it out - but the result is that the ball could not be advanced if it was called a muff. Sam Eguavoen got down to the 12 but the ball was spotted back at the 20 as a result. This also screws Charles out of getting credit for a tackle and a forced fumble as it's literally just treated as a muffed punt recovered by Eguavoen.
  • Nik Bonitto clearly hit Zach Wilson in the facemask on a sack. The only argument against a penalty here is that perhaps it wasn't forcible contact, but when it's to the head we usually see even the slightest hit being called when it happens to anyone other than a Jets player. This couldn't have been a facemask penalty because there was no real grab and twist.
  • Smith was right in Gipson's lap on the first punt that he muffed as the sun got in his eyes. This is one of those things that should constitute fair catch interference but, by the letter of the law, is not because he doesn't touch him. Jets fans can't really complain because Justin Hardee often does the same thing, but a rule change creating a one-yard halo around the return man might be good. As noted on the broadcast, if Gipson stepped into the gunner to initiate contact, he'd probably draw a flag, but that's risking a turnover if they don't call it.
  • Deuce Carter seemed to get away with a clear defensive pass interference downfield on Trautman.
  • Quinton Jefferson shoved Russell Wilson as he was going down near the sideline and the Broncos were appealing for a late hit, but Wilson was an active runner and was diving rather than sliding so should not get any protection there.
  • Denver had one play where they snapped the ball well after the play clock went to zero but actually that was a third down stop for the Jets so they should be glad it was not flagged.
  • Will McDonald was clearly held by Chris Manhertz on a run that went for a first down.
  • Bolles got away with another hold on Jermaine Johnson.
  • Finally, speaking of Johnson, there was a slight anomaly on his strip-sack of Wilson, which actually isn't a sack as a result of how the play was officiated. Wilson was obviously attempting to throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage, so when Johnson strips it loose, it should be a strip sack at that spot (the 20-yard line) and the ball should be returned to the spot of the fumble because it goes forwards and out of bounds. However, when returning the ball to the spot of the fumble, the officials marked it at the 23, not the 20, which was where Wilson landed without the ball rather than where the ball was knocked loose. So the Jets are only screwed out of three yards, no big deal. But, as a result of the spot, the play officially goes down as a two-yard gain for Wilson and robs Johnson of a potential sack. This probably can't even be fixed with a stat correction since the spot dictates that a sack cannot have occurred on the play.

Let us know what we missed - or misinterpreted - in the comments...