Peter King in MMQB today
posted at 10/21/2013 1:52 PM EDT
King is usually pretty wired in. Yes, the league put out somewhat misleading videos about the rule earlier this year. But, the rule was enforced as is was documented. BB might have thought differently based on the league's videos, but he was wrong, as difficult as that might be for "some" to believe.
Patriots at Jets, overtime, Jets kicker Nick Folk misses a 56-yard field goal. Patriots prepare to start a drive at the New England 38-yard line. I find this amazing: “The 2013 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League” is 159 pages long. There is even a half-page for “Guidelines for Captains,” including options on the coin toss.
For the infraction called for the first time in NFL history Sunday, on the decisive play in a game that could have major playoff implications, there is one sentence. Twenty-five words.
The sentence is on page 51: “When Team A presents a field-goal or Try Kick formation … Team B players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation.”
On the play in the Meadowlands, as the ball was snapped for the field goal, New England free-agent defensive lineman Chris Jones tried to shove another Patriots lineman, Will Svitek, through the gap between the center and right guard. Svitek almost squeezed through, but he was blocked by the Jets’ punt-team guard, Damon Harrison (actually a defensive tackle). The blocking didn’t matter. Once Jones shoved his teammate into the gap, the umpire standing behind the Patriots’ line, Tony Michalek, threw the flag. Correctly. “That’s a rules change for 2013 that a teammate cannot push a teammate into the opponent’s formation,’’ said referee Jerome Boger to a pool reporter after the game. “It’s any type of pushing action.”
There was some confusion—partially of the league’s doing—when Bill Belichick said after the game that the call was wrong because it didn’t originate from the “second level,” or area behind the line of scrimmage. And there are videos from earlier this season in which vice president of officiating Dean Blandino refers to “the second level’’ when he interprets the rule. As Mike Florio explained Sunday night on Pro Football Talk: “The problem is that the NFL previously has explained the new rule on its official website by suggesting that the rule applies only to pushes from the second level.’’
At NBC, a digest of rules is kept handy for the particularly prickly ones. And there’s no reference to a “second level” when discussing this rule. It is just as I have written it. The rule was included at the request of several offensive lineman and approved by the Competition Committee. The linemen, particularly the centers, felt the injury risk would go down if defensive players couldn’t cave in the centers by lining up right over them or having players be pushed into a huge scrum at them.
Without the call, New England would have had to go 30 yards to be in position for a field goal. If the game is tied after the first possession of overtime, the next team to score wins. With the penalty—which was absolutely the right call—Folk had another chance and nailed it.
Said Rex Ryan: “I was fairly happy about it. I was thinking, ‘It’s about time we got a break.’ ”
Said Jones: “The mistake was mine. I take it. Put it on my shoulders.’’
We will. And now, with the Jets and Bills winning Sunday, the AFC East is more of a horse race, with two games separating top and bottom.