Aside from Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis, the most talked about storyline of yesterday’s NFL action was the controversial pushing call that cost the Patriots a shot at a win against the division rival Jets.
During a 56-yard field goal attempt from the Jets’ Nick Folk in overtime, Patriots rookie lineman Chris Jones was flagged for pushing teammate Will Svitek forward at the snap and into the Jets’ offensive lineman Damon Harrison. Folk’s kick missed wide right, but the Jones’ penalty meant the Jets got a free 15 yards and, more importantly, another shot at a game-winning field goal. They didn’t miss the second time.
The unsportsmanlike penalty on Jones is a result of a new rule that was put into effect this past offseason and was the first instance of it being called so far this season, but was it enforced correctly? Many are saying yes, but some details in the NFL’s official rulebook may indicate otherwise…and the NFL may have acted swiftly to cover it up.
Below is a screenshot taken by Patriots beat reporter for Comcast SportsNet New England, Tom Curran, of an NFL.com story explaining the new rule (Rule 913).
Here’s an additional screenshot of the cached NFL.com page prior to the Patriots-Jets incident:
The rule clearly states that players NOT on the line of scrimmage cannot push teammates into the pile. Jones, however, was lined up directly next to the teammate that he pushed.
Then, following the incident on Sunday, a slight edit was made to the wording of the new rule on NFL.com. As you can see in the screenshot below, the edit was made at 6:32 PM – around two hours after the incident on Sunday.
Here’s where the edit was made:
That slight edit removed the crucial detail stating that the rule only applies to those NOT lined up at the LOS. Obviously, that makes all the difference in the world to Patriots fans steel reeling over yesterday’s devastating loss.
But is it a conspiracy, or just an oversight by the NFL? That’s for you to decide. It’s certainly an interesting sequence of events regardless.