Referee May Have Helped New England Patriots Avoid Penalty on Blocked Field Goal

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Well last night’s game between the Jets and the Patriots ended up being a lot closer than a lot of people, myself included, thought. The Jets offense had no problem running the ball and oft-criticized Quarterback Geno Smith minimized mistakes and had the Jets in position to pull of the stunner and salvage their season with a long field goal at the end of regulation. Nick Folk lined up for the 58 yard attempt, the ball was snapped, but the kick was blocked by New England defensive lineman Chris Jones. A bit ironic because he was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty blocking a long Jets field goal to win the game last season. The penalty moved the kick closer and the Jets ended up winning the game in overtime.

But back to Thursday night. The score was 27-25 New England and the Jets were lining up for a 58 yard field goal to win the game. Before the snap, Patriots linebacker Don’t’a Hightower was lined up over Jets linebacker Tanner Purdum and, before the snap, the referee tapped Hightower to let him know that he was in an illegal formation. Here is the exact rule “When Team A presents a punt, field-goal, or Try Kick formation, a Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage, must have his entire body outside the snapper’s shoulder pads at the snap.” Basically, if Hightower had not been moved, it would have been called a 5 yard penalty and the Jets would have had an easier field goal try.

So was this an example of the big bad NLF interfering to make sure one of its premier teams got the win? Not exactly. Things like this are more common than you might think. This warning was more about the safety of the players than trying to give one team an edge in the game. The referee had determined that, had Hightower not been moved, he would have jeopardized the health of Purdum by rushing from his position. That’s all that really happened here, no great conspiracy, no refs trying to fix the game, nothing like that. Just a warning to a player to protect the health of the guy that he’s lined up against. And really, that’s what the refs are there for anyway.

[ via  Yahoo Sports]

Tommy Messina | News Cult