EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Patriots lost to the New York Jets on a 42-yard field goal by Nick Folk in overtime, 30-27, but the crux of the loss comes down to a pivotal play just moments prior.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for pushing a teammate in an attempt to block Folk’s 56-yard attempt with 7:17 left in the extra period.
It was a violation of one of the NFL’s new rules for 2013, governing play on extra points and field goal attempts, in an attempt to make sure the game is more safe for players in the trenches.
Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3 (b) 2 — “…players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation.”
Jones was admittedly unaware of the rule, which had been announced by the league in August and shown to each team as officials made their rounds during training camp.
“It was something we probably talked about during camp and it just skipped my mind, it was my mistake and nobody else’s,” Jones said.
It couldn’t come at a worse time. The Jets had run the ball eight straight times before stalling at the New England 38-yard line. The Patriots were up against the wall in a defensive stand, hoping that Folk would miss from from more than 50 yards.
When the kick went up, there was a sense of confusion on both sides because the try went wide left and a flag had been immediately thrown.
“I was confused at first, didn’t know what was going on,” Jones said. “Then I figured out what it was and I was like, ‘oh, it was my fault.’ Still had more football to play after that so I just had to get rid of it really quick.”
The Jets were awarded 15 yards on the penalty and Bill Belichick was livid over the call, which referee Jerome Boger explained was a quick decision.
“The umpire’s flag went up almost instantaneously as he observed the action,” Boger said in a pool report. “We just enforced it as he called it.”
With three more rushes for -1 yard, the Jets had a much more accommodating field goal try from 42 yards out. Folk nailed it, ending the game and the Patriots’ six straight wins over their AFC East rival.
According to Fox Sports officiating expert Mike Pereira, it was the first time this season the rule had been enforced.