New NFL rule makes a splashy debut
Update (10/21, 4:30 a.m. ET):
• Here is a transcript of referee Jerome Boger’s explanation on the reasoning behind the controversial call.
• Here is a full report on the call, with coaches’ quotes and reaction around the league.
How about this. The first time a penalty for a particular infraction has been called in the history of the National Football League turns out to be a game-deciding penalty.
Here was the situation: The New York Jets lined up to take a 56-yard field goal on fourth-and-7 in overtime of their game Sunday against the New England Patriots. Nick Folk’s kick goes wide left, but a penalty is called on New England defensive tackle Chris Jones for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Take a look at the play and see if you can figure out why:
The series is extended as a result of the call, and the Jets end up hitting a game-winning field goal four plays later.
Here’s the reason for the flag. For the 2013 season, the league looked at extra points and field-goal tries as they were concerned about the safety of offensive linemen who are blocking the defenders.
The league made two adjustments:
• First, it said the defensive team could not overload one side of the center with more than six players.
• Then it addressed a situation that had been discussed for years, deciding not to allow a defensive player to push one of his teammates into the offensive formation.
It makes no difference where you are originally lined up — Rule 9-1-3, the new rule, says "Team B players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation." That’s exactly what happened in this play.
I’m sure the league would rather the first-ever call of this rule would not have been at this point in the game with these ramifications, but it is the rule. It’s a player safety rule that was put in to protect offensive linemen.
Folk made the much shorter 42-yard field goal to lift the Jets to a 30-27 win.