Disputed penalty gives Jets debatable win
DENVER — LaDainian Tomlinson broke the Broncos’ hearts again shortly after the field judge reached into his pocket to the disbelief of the orange-clad crowd.
Tomlinson scored his second touchdown from 2 yards out with 73 seconds left following a 46-yard pass interference flag on fourth down, and the New York Jets rallied past Denver, 24-20, yesterday.
On fourth and 6 from the Denver 48, Broncos safety Renaldo Hill and Jets receiver Santonio Holmes jostled near the goal line and the ball fell incomplete as the crowd went crazy.
But field judge Gary Cavaletto called pass interference on Hill, who had grabbed Holmes’s face mask with a couple of fingers on his right hand while both fell to the turf.
“Good thing the ref was right there to make that call,’’ Holmes said.
The penalty left the Jets (5-1) feeling fortunate heading into their bye and the Broncos (2-4) forlorn.
“It could be debatable,’’ Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “But we don’t care, we’ll take it.’’
Hill declined comment in the locker room, letting others debate the merits of the crucial call.
“Nothing was taken from us,’’ Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd insisted, lamenting Denver’s myriad missed opportunities, including three takeaways that led to just 3 points.
Although both teams insisted it wasn’t the case, the Broncos seemed to let Tomlinson score on the next play so they could get one last shot at the win.
A bad shotgun snap by rookie J.D. Walton, however, was recovered by cornerback Dwight Lowery with 35 seconds left as the Jets left Invesco Field with the best record in the AFC.
Tomlinson, who scored 19 touchdowns in 18 games against Denver while playing for San Diego, also scampered in from 20 yards to tie it at 17 with 8 1/2 minutes left.
That score came after Demaryius Thomas caught Kyle Orton’s 17-yard pass over cornerback Darrelle Revis to put Denver ahead, 17-10, in the third quarter.
Despite having a depleted secondary, the Broncos went to four down linemen most of the game and befuddled Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who threw his first two interceptions of the season and could easily have had two more passes picked off.
The Broncos recorded their first 100-yard rushing game of the season, and Tim Tebow had a 5-yard scamper in the second quarter for his first NFL touchdown. Matt Prater nailed a career-long 59-yard field goal, and then put Denver ahead, 20-17, with a 48-yarder with just under four minutes left.