After Further Review: Jets/Dolphins Officiating

This season, we're 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

Dolphins 5-48 (leading to three Jets first downs)
Jets 5-88 (leading to five Dolphins first downs)

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

  • Ken Webster defensive holding on Robby Anderson. Anderson initiated the contact with Webster as he went up the seam but Webster appeared to grab him.
  • Quinnen Williams face mask penalty. This came after a play where Williams exploded into the backfield as impressively as he has all season. He did get his hand up in the face mask area as he made the tackle, but there was no grab. However, the running back was wearing a visor so Williams' hand contacted up against that. It seemed harsh for Jay Feely to call it a "dumb play" though.
  • 38-yard pass interference on Bless Austin on 3rd-and-long. This was a clear call, although Austin had more time than he realized and should have been able to locate the ball and make a play on it without making contact. He probably panicked to some extent but his contact did affect the receiver's ability to lift one of his arms up to make a play on the ball.
  • Jerome Baker face mask penalty. This was a clear call which was frustrating for Miami as they had Powell surrounded shy of the first down marker on third down.
  • Illegal shift on Miami. Wide receiver went in motion and wasn't set for one second before the ball was snapped. Declined anyway.
  • Holding on Daniel Kilgore. Takedown of James Burgess on a run blitz as the Jets blew up a 3rd down run. The Jets could have declined this and forced a fourth down but then accepted it and got the third down stop. Miami hit the long field goal anyway.
  • Illegal contact on Eric Rowe. The Jets declined this penalty anyway because Anderson made a first down catch. The contact happened away from the ball as Jamison Crowder was bracketed out of the slot and appeared to be bumped down the field.
  • Holding on Michael Deiter. Dragged Nathan Shepherd down by the arm away from the ball on a Ryan Fitzpatrick scramble.

Penalties warranting further discussion or explanation

  • Burgess unnecessary roughness call. The announcers liked this call and "expert" Gene Steratore agrees! However, a closer look shows that Burgess was a little hard done by on this play as he lowered his head so that contact was with the shoulder. Although Steratore said contact with the helmet isn't relevant because any forcible contact to the head or neck area constitutes an illegal hit on a defenseless player, he also lowered his shoulder so the contact was made below the head/neck area.

You be the judge:

  • Burgess holding call to negate his own pick-six. This was a ticky-tack call, although the announcers correctly pointed out what the officials obviously saw. Burgess very briefly had his hand on the receiver, but although it appeared that maybe he had pulled him back, the receiver may actually have been naturally slowing to a stop anyway rather than there being a grab. In any case, it wasn't an interception and Burgess was down at the point of the (non) catch so it wouldn't have been a pick-six even if he caught it.
  • Nathan Shepherd roughing the passer penalty. This was a weak call. Ryan Fitzpatrick's head snapped back and hit the turf but not because Shepherd did anything egregious. The hit wasn't late, the strike zone was well below the head and neck area and he didn't land with his body weight on Fitzpatrick.
  • Finally, of course, the replay reversal which essentially won the game for the Jets; pass interference on Nik Needham. This was a good call, as Needham pulled Vyncint Smith's shoulder down before the ball arrived and definitely affected his ability to catch the ball. This never would have been reversed in the first half of the season though. The Dolphins should probably also have had a penalty on their head coach for unsportsmanlike conduct, which would have made the ensuing field goal even easier.

Notable no-calls

While there are no specific examples of obvious missed calls, perhaps the most notable thing about this game was that the Jets had zero offensive penalties including none from an offensive line that combined for seven last week.

There were some misses though. Quinnen Williams was clearly held on a pass rush but also could have been called for going in low on a pressure of Fitzpatrick. Alex Lewis appeared to be a victim of illegal hands to the face on one bull rush.

The officials also gave Ty Montgomery an extremely favorable spot on one outside run and messed up the call on DeVante Parker's third down catch over Austin. Parker never had control and then the ball was moving as he landed and appeared to hit the turf.

The other big call was the Demaryius Thomas touchdown. He was obviously owed one after they controversially took one away from him a few weeks ago. As the announcers discussed, Thomas landed with the ball and took another step which constitutes a football move and establishes control so once he breaks the plane it doesn't matter if he loses the ball going to ground.

The rule kind of sucks here but by the letter of the law, that is a touchdown. However, had the same thing happened in the field of play that would be a fumble, not an incompletion, unless his knee was down. That's almost too close to call.