The New York Jets lost to the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon, 24-17, but the result could have gone the other way if not for a bizarre, controversial call to overturn a Jets touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 24-14 with 14 minutes to play, the Jets mounted a 12-play drive that appeared to end on an Austin Seferian-Jenkins touchdown reception when the New York tight end snuck in at the pylon. But upon review, the officials determined Seferian-Jenkins bobbled the ball and lost control as he crossed the goal line and by the time he regained possession, he was already laying out of bounds.
Take a look for yourself and see if you agree.
Since the ball was technically fumbled out the back of the end zone, the Patriots were given the ball on a touchback. The Jets held the Pats to a three-and-out on the next possession, then kicked a field goal to bring the score to 24-17 on the next drive. If the refs had let the touchdown stand, this game could have been closer.
This is baffling in part because it appears as if Seferian-Jenkins cradles the ball by the time he hits the pylon. If he has possession at that point, it should be a touchdown, per the NFL rulebook. But that's not even the strangest part of this call. It's the fact that the touchdown was overturned.
Typically, referees' decisions are only reversed if it's clear the call was wrong. "Indisputable video evidence" is the term you always hear bandied about (that particular phrase is used in the NCAA, but the rule generally applies to the NFL as well). Yeah, a case can be made that he bobbled the ball out of the end zone, but there doesn't appear to be anything clear or indisputable about the evidence needed to overturn a touchdown. By the typically conservative standards of video replay, the reversal was a bad call.
And NFL Twitter had a conniption.
That is one of the worst calls I've ever seen in professional sports.- Jonah Javad (@JonahJavad) October 15, 2017
ASJ scored & had possession. Ruled fumble/touchback. Horrible. #Jets
The Jets fans are upset. I don't blame them. ASJ I guess fumbled the ball and lost it, but he regained it on replay and the refs say it's a touchback. For the life of me I'm not sure what is a catch.- Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) October 15, 2017
The Jets fumble/touchback is the craziest thing I've ever seen. There wasn't even a fumble. Still dumbfounded 🤷- Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) October 15, 2017
To recap: They just called a fumble on a play where The Jets TE never lost possession of the ball.- trey wingo (@wingoz) October 15, 2017
This is not hyperbole: That's the worst call I've ever seen in a football game. Ever. In what universe is that a fumble? #Jets- Rich MacLeod (@richmacleod) October 15, 2017
Pats that, though. New England got the break and is now in sole possession of first place in the AFC East, while Jets fans are left wondering "what if."
Cy Brown writes about football, golf, soccer and other stuff for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown.