Tell me what you see in that gif above.
Because what I see is a field goal attempt that looks like just about every other field goal attempt I've seen this season, and pretty much since I gained football consciousness somewhere around the age of 7 or 8. But apparently, something about that play was worth a 15-yard game-determining penalty that snatched a potential win for the Patriots and handed it firmly to the Jets.
I was in attendance this afternoon, which means I have now laid witness to the spygate game, the butt fumble game, and what I will now call the "pushing your own teammate" game, until somebody comes up with a more clever title. I sure know how to pick them, huh? At any rate, I was utterly confused during the final moments of the game as all this was playing out. From the upper deck, I saw Nick Folk's kick flail wildly. I cheered in celebration, only to see a yellow flag on the ground. The stadium started roaring. I figured a Patriot had jumped off-sides. A definite bummer, but by no means a game-ender. It was still going to be a looooong redo for the Jets. Suddenly the scoreboard goes from showing the Jets field position as being on the 47 yard line, all the way to the 32 yard line. I was utterly bewildered.
Not knowing anything that had happened, I did know this. #1. That was a game-ending penalty. #2. I did not see any Patriot remove a shiv from his sock and shove it into the throat of a Jet, Walkind Dead-style. #3. As a result, this was going to be a completely bogus call.
With the implications of a penalty in that situation being so huge, one would think that a penalty would need to be not only obvious, but egregious to get a flag. Chris Jones' "push" was neither. It was simply a case of a referee inserting himself into the outcome of a game instead of letting the players determine it. Whether Jones admitted he pushed after the game or not makes little difference to me. Whether some obscure rule may have been violated is irrelevant. The bottom line is that a questionable act which had nothing to do with the result of the play was flagged for a penalty that, without question, altered not only the outcome of the play, but the entire game.
When it was all said and done, I walked out of the stadium feeling robbed. Not just robbed of a win, but robbed of the effort I spent all week studying up on this game, cheering for my team, and caring about the NFL in general. What was the point of getting pumped up when Logan Ryan came up with his pick six or feeling extremely frustrated when Brady threw his, if the entire game was going to rest on an official's arbitrary decision to throw a flag? Even for Jets fans, that had to be a very shallow-feeling win. Of course, that didn't stop them from celebrating by punching girls.
On the way home, I heard a lot of people say that Patriots fans should just shut up and accept the call since we benefitted from the Tuck Rule twelve years ago. It's a bogus argument and I want to put it to rest. The difference between this afternoon and that playoff game, was that the Tuck Rule play demanded a ruling. Brady either fumbled on that play or threw an incomplete pass. A decision had to be made one way or the other. The refs decided, after a long review, that the play was an incomplete pass. Today, the right thing to do would have been to just let the Patriots and Jets play. If that ref had held onto his flag, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, would have complained that they let Chris Jones get away with a "push" on his own teammate. I don't think there was a single person on this planet, other than that referee, who was thinking about a pushing penalty while that play was taking place. The refs weren't forced to make a call there. They chose to insert themselves into the game and determine it's outcome. Nobody pays to see the zebras. They pay to see the players.
Let them play.
Here's your very quick risers and fallers:
Rob Gronkowski (TE) - Gronk looked solid in his first game back. Sure, there were some plays that I'm sure he and Brady would like to have back. Still, overall, it was tremendous to see him out there dominating, especially with the receiving corps so banged up.
Chandler Jones (DE) - 11 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 hits. A solid day for the sophomore.
Chris Jones (DT) - Bogus penalty at the end aside, the rookie racked up 10 tackles, 3 for a loss, 2 sacks, and 2 hits, filling in for Vince Wilfork.
Stephen Gostkowski (K) - Went 2/2, including the game-tying 44-yarder. He's now 16 for 17 on the year.
Tom Brady (QB) - Not a good day for Brady. He missed several big throws and threw a devastating pick-six to start the 2nd half. He was held yet again without a touchdown pass. After 52 games in a row with a touchdown pass, Brady has thrown one touchdown in his last three games. He was five seconds away last week from being 0-3.
Aaron Dobson/Kenbrell Thompkins (WR's) - While no single egregious play stands out, the rookies just didn't look impressive today. One would have thought that Gronk's presence might open things up for them a bit, but they failed to produce any really meaningful results today, combining for only 50 yards.