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Back in January, we broke down some of the interesting penalty-related trends that affected the Jets in 2022. That review was based solely on the data.
In today’s article, we’re going to instead take a look at some individual plays where a call (or no-call) went against the Jets, looking specifically at plays where the call was obviously wrong and/or had a significant effect on the outcome.
Let’s break down our choices for the 10 worst calls that went against the Jets in 2022:
10 – Lawrence Cager holding penalty vs Baltimore in Week 1
Here’s a good example of where a marginal call can set in motion a series of events with wider repercussions. The call itself saw Cager lined up at wide receiver and keeping his hands inside as he drove the cornerback to the ground on an outside run.
Cager had been in the starting line-up and the Jets ran a series of plays with three tight ends on the field, most of which were successful. However, after this holding call, the Jets faced 1st-and-19 instead of 2nd-and-7 near midfield. On the next play, they threw to Cager, who slipped and the resulting interception was returned deep into Jets territory to set up the go-ahead score.
After this game, the Jets released Cager, who went on to show promise with the Giants and completely abandoned the three-tight end sets, which prevented the likes of Kenny Yeboah and Jeremy Ruckert from getting on the field. Essentially, this call led to a situation where something that had actually shown promise was perceived as a waste of time and the offense may have suffered the consequences.
9 – 4th down pass interference by Miami’s Nik Needham on Corey Davis
This one doesn’t end up as high up in the list as some others because ultimately the Jets pulled away in the fourth quarter for a comfortable win but at the time, the score was only 19-17 and Miami even had a shot at a long field goal to take the lead early in the fourth.
On the play, the Jets were in Miami territory but opted to pass on 4th-and-short. Davis reacted fastest to the back shoulder throw and worked back to the ball, but Needham grabbed a handful of jersey and dragged him to the ground so he couldn’t make a play on it.
8 – Jordan Poyer late hit on Garrett Wilson in the loss to the Bills
Wilson himself took to social media to protest his apparent inability to get a call after he caught a pass and was then lit up a couple of steps out of bounds by the Bills’ pro bowl safety.
At the time, the Jets were only down seven in the third quarter and a penalty would have put them into Bills’ territory, but the impact wasn’t that great because they scored a touchdown on the drive anyway. That was far from being the only time this happened all season though.
7 – Horse collar tackle on Quincy Williams late in the loss to Miami
This call literally cost the Jets the game, albeit that they had already been eliminated from playoff contention the week before. With the scores tied and Miami outside of field goal range in the closing minutes, Williams’ tackle should have set up a key 3rd-and-7. Instead the penalty call moved the ball into range for the game-winning kick.
While Williams clearly didn’t have a grip of the inside of the shoulder pads, as you’ll usually see on a call of this nature, he did have a grip of the jersey around the nameplate which can give rise to a call, if you pull the player to the ground using that hand. However, the officials missed the fact that Williams had wrapped his man up and pulled him to the ground with a handful of jersey much lower down in his other hand. This simply wasn’t the type of tackle that the horse collar rule is designed to prevent.
6 – CJ Mosley overturned interception against Denver
Once again, all’s well that ends well, as the Jets hung on to win this one. However, they had to sweat it out after Mosley’s apparent game-clinching interception was overturned in farcical fashion.
Mosley’s hands were under the ball, no angle clearly showed it ever hitting the ground and even if it did, he seemed to have – and maintain – full control. You simply don’t see these calls overturned to incomplete.
Bearing in mind that replay is only supposed to overturn calls where there is indisputable video evidence this didn’t even warrant further scrutiny because you could tell right away it was a borderline call at best. However, when that added scrutiny seems to confirm the call was correct anyway, it’s no wonder that Jets fans feel slighted on a regular basis.
5 – Holding on New England’s game winning punt return
After a masterful defensive performance, the Jets lost a pivotal game to New England on a last minute punt return for a touchdown. The NFL even admitted that they had missed a block in the back call on Justin Hardee as he tried to chase the play down.
That wasn’t the main issue here, though. If they spotted that and made the call, New England still would have had the ball deep in Jets’ territory and would have been able to kick a walk-off field goal. The bigger issue was that Hardee was blatantly held further up the field. Had that call been made, the game would surely have gone into overtime and the whole season could have played out differently if the Jets came away with a win.
4 – Offensive pass interference on New England’s only touchdown in their other win over the Jets
The only offensive touchdown scored by New England in their two wins over the Jets shouldn’t have counted either. Sauce Gardner was two yards off the line of scrimmage and the ball was still in Mac Jones’ hands when Hunter Henry made contact with Gardner, driving him back to the goal line. Jacobi Meyers was wide open in the flat for a five yard touchdown.
If the Jets didn’t fall behind at this moment, perhaps Zach Wilson doesn’t melt down in the second half, which started his downwards spiral and changed the trajectory of his career. Of course, maybe this merely helped accelerate the inevitable, so it could turn out to be a good thing.
New England has been getting away with so-called “legal pick plays” for years, but this one was clearly against the rules and it came on fourth down so they probably would have had to settle for yet another field goal. That wasn’t the most contentious call in this game though…
3 – Roughing the passer call on John Franklin-Myers to negate a pick-six
Jones threw a pick-six just before halftime in the first meeting between the teams, but got bailed out by a roughing the passer call on Franklin-Myers.
The hit was not egregiously late, nor was there forcible contact to the head or neck area and he didn’t land on Jones with his full body weight. In their efforts to justify the call, the league simply remarked that he “hit him too hard” although, tellingly, they did not fine him.
The Jets should have led 17-3 at the half and instead led just 10-6 (and the aforementioned Meyers touchdown would put them 13-10 down early in the second half).
Everyone around the league agrees that this isn’t the kind of hit that should be punished, but things even out over time, right? Yeah, about that…
2 – Roughing the passer no-call on Matt Milano in the Jets’ loss to the Bills
In fact, the Jets didn’t benefit from a single roughing the passer call all season, despite several examples of violations that were worse than the one Franklin-Myers was called for; none moreso than Milano’s jarring hit on Mike White. Let’s not forget, Franklin-Myers was penalized for “hitting too hard”.
This hit was just as late as the one by Franklin-Myers and White ended up fracturing multiple ribs, knocking him out for most of the rest of the season. Who knows what could have happened to the Jets’ playoff hopes – and the Jets’ quarterback plans – if that play never happened?
There were immediate repercussions in the game too. Instead of a first down at the Buffalo 35 down by seven, the Jets faced 2nd-and-10 without White and immediately turned the ball over on the next snap, setting up Buffalo for a field goal to make it a two-score game.
The wider implications of these last two plays were significant too. The Jets were leading the league in roughing penalties after week eight, despite most of them being marginal calls. They adjusted thereafter and didn’t have another one all season. Of course, they didn’t benefit from one all season, either, without any adjustment required from their opponents, so while Jets pass rushers had to actively pull out of hits, their opponents were apparently allowed to do what they liked with impunity. Clearly that would put the Jets at some kind of competitive disadvantage and may have been a factor in them losing most of their games after having made that adjustment.
1 – Pass interference on Jeff Smith in the loss to the Lions
The Jets lost to the Lions on a fourth down touchdown pass with two minutes remaining and probably would have made the postseason with a win. However, perhaps the Lions wouldn’t have been in that position if not for a bad missed call before half time.
Smith had just beaten Okudah for two downfield catches and he blew past him again for a potential touchdown but Okudah grabbed him around the waist before the ball arrived and pulled him back so he couldn’t reach for the ball. It should have been first and goal at the one and if the Jets punched it in, they would have led 14-10 at the half.
In the end, the Lions took a late lead and were able to hang on for the win as the Jets were complaining that they were deliberately holding Garrett Wilson on every play and the officials ignored this even after it was pointed out to them. There’s no room for that on our list though, unfortunately.
We are, of course, cognisant of the fact that every team’s fans feel their team doesn’t get fair treatment from the officials and some may feel that having some calls go against you is an inevitable part of playing at this level or even that it will all even out over time. In regard to the calls outlined above there may even be some that you might have considered were correct in spite of our protestations.
The fact remains, however, that all of these calls could have gone the other way and we’ve tried to select some plays where that would have made a significant difference to the way things ultimately played out.
At the very least this serves as a reminder of how fine the margins are at the NFL level and if the Jets have better luck with some of these calls going their way in 2023, it could have a significant effect on the season’s outcome.
What do you think? Did we omit any plays you thought deserved to be on this list? Or are we wrong about any of the ones we did select?
Originally posted on Gang Green Nation – All Posts