Sunday afternoon at 1:00 PM, a divisional matchup between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots to determine first place the AFC East occurred. I was lucky enough to attend this game and have great seats, which I thought would have to make up for a sure blowout by the Patriots.
To the surprise of myself and many others who were watching the game, the Jets came out firing, scoring a touchdown on the first drive of the game which went 13 plays and 88 yards. The atmosphere in the stadium felt like a win might actually be a possibility, especially after the Jets defense stopped the Patriots on back-to-back drives and forced a turnover on the latter possession.
The next drive the Jets moved downfield again and scored their second touchdown of the game, taking a 14-0 lead OVER THE PATRIOTS. Absolutely nobody saw that coming, but the Jets were still playing against Tom Brady, and he reminded them and all of the Jets fans that he still has it.
Two drives after the Jets second score, the Patriots took advantage of some Jets penalties and scored a touchdown, cutting the Jets lead in half. Now things were still looking good for Gang Green as they stopped the Patriots on a drive with about 1:38 left in the first half and had decent field position to score one more time themselves. Unfortunately, Josh McCown got a bit overzealous and threw an interception which led to a last-second Patriots touchdown.
Coming out of halftime the Patriots had the ball and they quickly scored, showing that they were not going to let the Jets upset them, and early in the fourth quarter they kicked a field goal to take a 24-14 lead. All hope of a Jets victory seemed to have vanished, until a Jets touchdown pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins halfway through the fourth quarter.
Well, it looked like a touchdown.
In the NFL all scoring plays are reviewed, which generally means that it will either overturn the call or uphold it, but this time it was ruled a TOUCHBACK. A TOUCHBACK! The call legitimately made my jaw drop and I could feel the atmosphere at MetLife Stadium change from hopeful to anger and disbelief.
Now in real time, there is no way the line judge could have made that call as Seferian-Jenkins’ back was to him, and he was moving too fast to see he lost control of the ball for a moment. However, the people who review the calls on Park Avenue have over 60 camera angles and can speed up/slow down the footage to see what actually happened, but they made a mistake here in my opinion.
Per Brian Costello of the New York Post, this is why the refs made the call.
“The referees ruled, with help from NFL vice president of officiating Al Riveron in the New York replay center, that Seferian-Jenkins lost control of the ball before he crossed the goal line after getting hit by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler and safety Duron Harmon, and did not regain control until he hit the ground out of bounds.”
From the replays that I watched he clearly loses possession and then regains it while he was in mid-air, then he hits the pylon, so I think it was actually a touchdown. Nonetheless, this will now be referred to as the “What Fumble” for years to come as it potentially changed the outcome of the game.
The Jets did not give up after this though, the stadium erupted as we booed the referees and the Patriots giving the Jets defense the fuel to stuff New England. The Jets forced a punt and drove downfield, but were held to a field goal with 3:40 to go and only one timeout remaining.
The Jets defense had to stop the Patriots in order to give the team one last shot to tie it up, and they did just that. The Jets got the ball back on their own 27 with 1:53 left and needed a touchdown. However, they were only able to get to midfield and could not forge a successful comeback attempt
Now the loss right now stings, because this game certainly could have gone into overtime if not for the controversial call and the Jets may have won, making them 4-2. However, as angry as I am that the Jets lost in the way they did, we need to look at the fact that the Jets have a tough schedule left and their playoff hopes would still be slim even with that victory.
In February, when we have one more loss and a higher draft pick this game will be a blessing in disguise. This game also showed that the Jets defense can handle Tom Brady and it is filled with a bunch of young guys, so it shows we may have a nice future to come for Gang Green.