After Further Review: Jets/Patriots 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

Patriots 8-70 (leading to two Jets first downs)
Jets 5-67 (leading to two Patriots first downs)

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

  • Ryan Kalil facemask penalty - unclear from footage, seemed inadvertent.
  • Leonard Williams illegal use of hands negating stop on 3rd-and-16 - looked legit, but also unnecessary.
  • Too many men on the field on the New England defense.
  • Holding penalty on Kalil, as he took down an interior rusher, declined anyway due to interception.
  • Ted Karras blatant hold on Neville Hewitt on a run blitz up the middle, accepted although the play was stopped for a loss anyway.
  • Blatant facemask call on Josh Gordon while blocking in the flat. Jets accepted to make it 2nd-and-23 rather than it being 3rd-and-8.
  • Brandon Shell and Kelechi Osemele both called for holding on the same play - Shell with the grab and Osemele with the takedown as each was half-beaten in pass protection.
  • False start on Patriots wide receiver Jacobi Meyers.
  • Roughing the passer call on Deatrich Wise - low hit.
  • Braxton Berrios called for offensive pass interference as he was blocking before the ball was thrown, let alone caught.
  • Patriots delay of game followed by Brandon Bolden false start while in punt formation.

Penalties warranting further discussion or explanation

  • Darryl Roberts 28-yard pass interference penalty on third down. Many fans wanted to challenge this call, which frustratingly came on a third down to extend another drive. However, the replay is pretty clear that Roberts' shove on Gordon before the ball arrives knocked him off balance. No way that gets overturned - and they didn't score on the drive anyway, so no harm done.


  • Intentional grounding on Tom Brady. This was most notable for Brady's pathetic crying tantrum when the call went against him, bearing in mind that New England were 23-0 up at the time and still in field goal range late in the third quarter.

"He knocked it down!" cried Brady, after his obvious attempt to dirt the ball hit Henry Anderson in the head. Was there a receiver in the vicinity? No. There was one over by the sideline in that general direction, but Brady's pass would have landed about halfway there and it's obvious what he was doing. But even if it wasn't, grow up, Tom.

And, of course, like every entitled cry-baby, he got his own way anyway as the Patriots converted on 3rd-and-22 and went on to score their fourth touchdown a few plays later.

Notable no-calls

It's difficult to gripe too much about the calls when the game was out of reach so early, although some potential missed calls did contribute to the lead.

The most obvious was Brady's apparent intentional grounding that was not called as he was under pressure from Steve McLendon. The Jets only rushed three against six blockers on the play, dropping eight into coverage, so Brady had plenty of time but nobody open and then McLendon eventually put him under pressure.

What was also controversial about this play was that two of the three rushers for the Jets were taken down to the ground. In either case this did not appear to be a penalty, but as we've seen in the past - including with Kelvin Beachum last week - officials sometimes flag you for holding automatically in such situations even when there's no obvious hold. New England does seem to get the benefit of the doubt on such plays where other teams don't.

Intentional grounding is defined as a pass without a realistic chance of completion and this meets that criteria because although Ryan Izzo was in the vague area of where he threw the ball, Izzo was blocking at the time and the ball was clearly and deliberately just thrown away to a safe area to avoid the sack. Officials ruled that Izzo was "in the vicinity" but he was a good five yards away from where the ball landed and it wasn't particularly close to him as it sailed over the crowd of mostly-Jets players either.

However, no grounding was actually the correct call here without needing to lean on the "in the vicinity" rule. While Brady never left what we would recognize as the pocket, the official rules dictate that you have left the pocket if you move laterally at any point in the play to the outside of where the tackle lined up. Brady did that, albeit barely and only for a split-second. So, it's not grounding as long as the ball lands past the line of scrimmage. The line of scrimmage was the 33 and the ball landed one yard past that on the 34. So, no call, and Brady probably knew exactly what he was doing and would have thrown another hissy fit if he didn't get his way.

Of course, it was marginal enough that the grounding probably still would've been called on most quarterbacks, but that's the benefit of the doubt creeping in again. "Oh, but they must be playing within the rules - they're the New England Patriots!"

The Jets perhaps have a bigger gripe in respect of a couple of missed holds that might have stalled two of those first three scoring drives. However, the officials weren't calling anything in the first half, as New England had just one penalty for five yards. In fact, they didn't call a penalty on either team in the first quarter.

On Brady's touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett, Foley Fatukasi split a double team and was tackled to the ground. Both linemen had their hands on the outside of him on that play so either one could have been flagged which would have negated the touchdown.

Later on, a third down conversion to Julian Edelman could also have been negated by a hold as Henry Anderson split a double team and the lineman reached across him to prevent him from getting to Brady.

Trenton Cannon was also blatantly held on a jersey grab by Jonathan Jones on the punt before New England's second drive, so they probably should have started that drive in their own half rather than at the Jets' 45.

Early in the second half, the officials did the Jets no favors with the spot on this play as Rex Burkhead was clearly out of bounds before he reached across to the marker.

There were also a few calls that benefited the Jets, albeit mostly after the game was pretty much decided. It was surprising that the replay booth didn't overturn the Dorsett non-catch where he seemed to have his hands under the ball. It did look like the ball hit the turf, but they usually don't seem to care about that these days as long as you control the catch.

Also, aside from the Berrios pass interference call noted above, there was another one where he was again a beat early and could have been flagged. New England probably declines that anyway though because Berrios and Ryan Griffin blocked the same guy leaving another one free to blow the play up on third down.

To their credit when the Patriots ran a quick receiver screen on 3rd-and-short to set up the first touchdown, they got the timing perfect. But if they coach their receivers up so well, how does Berrios become a Jet and then instantly lose the ability to execute? Or maybe that's why they let him go.

Finally, let's cover the muff that the Jets recovered for a touchdown in the third quarter. In case you were wondering, if the Patriots recovered that ball in their end zone it would not have been a safety, even though the Jets recovering the ball did correctly count as a touchdown. This would have been a touchback only.

That perhaps seems counter-intuitive but it's come up before in more meaningful game situations. The "impetus" rule in section 5, article 1, part (b), note (2) states the ball would have to have to have been batted or kicked back into the end zone by a Patriots player - or muffed while at rest or almost at rest - to constitute the Patriots having taken the ball back into their end zone.

The same rule would have meant that the touchdown wouldn't have counted either if a Jets player was deemed to have given the ball "impetus" by deliberately knocking it into the end zone before falling on it. As it was, the ball got knocked inadvertently towards the end zone in the scramble to recover it which would not count as impetus in this scenario.

A question has come up in the past before about why a punt returner couldn't bat a ball that's about to roll short of the goal line (which actually happened in yesterday's game) into the end zone and then fall on it for a touchback, but an intentional bat would constitute impetus as would a muff (or, presumably in this case, a "muff" where the return man is deliberately fumbling the ball but making it look inadvertent) where the ball was about to fall to a stop.

So, this isn't possible unless you (a) anticipate in advance that it will fall short of the line (b) make it look like you made a genuine attempt to catch or field a still-moving ball and (c) were prepared to take the risk that you don't actually get to the ball first and let the other team get a touchdown - or that the officials deem what you did to be deliberate so it's a safety. For the sake of - at most - 19 yards, it's obviously not worth it.

Make sure you take notes because we'll probably get screwed on this rule at some point.

Aside from the rules clarification, had this been an important play, it's possible the replay booth might have overturned the touchdown. Arthur Maulet recovers the ball as he's already on the ground so if he possesses the ball before it's across the plane of the goal line, it would be ruled down at the one. This is very close, but you could theoretically determine he had possession while he was literally inches short of the line.

The views expressed above are opinion only and you are more than welcome to dispute any of this or detail any contentious calls we didn't mention in the comments.