Some of you have blown a gasket about the official who moved New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower over a little on the last play of the Patriots’ 27-25 win over the New York Jets Thursday night.
Why was this significant?
Under NFL rules, defenders have to line up outside the shoulders of the long snapper on a field goal attempt. Jets kicker Nick Folk had a 58-yard attempt to win the game blocked, but if Carl Paganelli hadn’t nudged Hightower, it would have been a 5-yard penalty and Folk could have attempted another kick from 53 yards.
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Loosen up, folks. There’s no conspiracy by the officials or the league to help the Patriots. Learn and remember these two words: preventative officiating.
It has long been a standard of officiating — whether it’s at the high school, college or the NFL levels.
That is exactly what happened when Paganelli used preventative officiating — as the league has instructed him to do — to nudge Hightower over so Hightower didn’t line up over the center.
The NFL specifically covered this when the rule was passed. The league wanted to make sure that officials use good preventative officiating and to not let players line up wrong on pre-snap lineups, if they have time.
And it doesn’t only happen with the umpire on players lined up over the center. It happens with the line of scrimmage officials, too, the head linesman and the line judge. Watch wide receivers when they go and line up and look to the head linesman or line judge to see if they’re lined up properly on the line of scrimmage and they will get acknowledgment from those sideline officials.
It’s all part of preventing penalties that occur at the snap. The same goes for tackles, when they are lining up too far in the backfield. After the play, the officials will warn them so they have an opportunity to move up on the next snap.
This is not an unusual occurrence. It happens many times during the course of a game. In fact, it happened earlier in the Patriots-Jets game. It’s called preventative officiating.