Green Day: Are Jets lucky or good?

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
8:00
AM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few minutes after the New York Jets' 30-27 overtime win over the New England Patriots, I received a text from an old friend in Rhode Island -- yes, a Patriots fan.

"Fix. [B.S.] call," it read.

I'm guessing that pretty much captures the sentiment of the entire New England region.

It was, in fact, the correct call. We're referring, of course, to Chris Jones' unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty, the result of a new and obscure "pushing" rule. Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3 from the NFL rule book states: "Team B players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation."

Jones pushed Will Svitek into Jets blocker Damon Harrison, resulting in the flag. This particular penalty never had been called before, according to the NFL. You know what happened next: Nick Folk, who missed from 56 yards, got another shot from 42 yards. He drilled it, lifting the Jets to a crazy and impressive win.

Bill Belichick argued it's only a penalty when a second-level defender does the pushing. That's not the rule, according to the game officials. Obviously, this became a huge national story. Tony Dungy, a studio analyst for NBC's "Football Night in America," said the call was correct.

“This is a new rule and a rule that the players asked for, a rule for safety," he said on the air. "You cannot push in the middle of the line of scrimmage. Chris Jones comes in from behind and pushes his teammate. This should be called and it had to be called. … It doesn’t say anything about second level. ... It says you cannot push into the line of scrimmage. The officials did a good job calling it."

So maybe this should be remembered as the "Rule 9-Section 1-Article 3" win for the Jets.

When push comes to shove, they have a knack for pulling out improbable victories.

In Week 1, Tampa Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David shoved Geno Smith late out of bounds, resulting in a 15-yard penalty. It set up a makeable field goal for Folk from 48 yards with two seconds left. Jets 18, Bucs 17.

How can one team get so lucky twice? In Week 1, it was a dumb play by David; the Jets almost certainly would've lost without that penalty. This time, it was a really dumb play by Jones, who admitted after the game he was aware of the rule. So, basically, he knowingly tried to pull a fast one on a 56-yard field-goal try, which is akin to fouling a shooter on a 35-foot shot in basketball. If he had kept his hands to himself, the Patriots would've been 15 to 20 yards from their own game-winning field-goal try.

A message to my friend: Consider this the response to your text.

ICYMI: Geno Smith did it again, orchestrating his fourth game-winning drive in fourth quarter/overtime. Only four quarterbacks have done that in their first four wins; the others are Bruce Gradkowski, Troy Aikman and Lynn Dickey. ... The Jets are wildly unpredictable, but it's time to take them seriously. ... Chris Ivory hinted last week that he wasn't happy in his role. He's happy now. ... Jeremy Kerley dominated on third down. He resembled former Jet Wayne Chrebet, who was an honorary captain. ... Josh Cribbs contributed in a variety of ways in his Jets debut. ... S Antonio Allen made the defensive play of the year.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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