The NFL said officials moving New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower before the snap of a field-goal attempt in Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets is “standard officiating procedure.”
Hightower was moving around before a potential game-winning 58-yard field goal attempt by Jets kicker Nick Folk. An official then moved Hightower and prevented him from lining up directly over the snapper, which is illegal.
NFL rules state “when Team A presents a punt, field-goal, or Try Kick formation, a Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage, must have his entire body outside the snapper’s shoulder pads at the snap.”
A five-yard penalty for illegal formation would have been called if Hightower would have stayed where he was. The kick attempt was blocked by Patriots defensive lineman Chris Jones, preserving New England’s 27-25 win.
“It is a standard officiating procedure that occurs regularly,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email to Pro Football Talk. “In fact, it is on [NFL V.P. of officiating] Dean Blandino’s video that went to the teams yesterday and will be on the version of it that goes to the media today.”
McCarthy said the rule was put in place for the players safety.
“That rule was adopted for player safety purposes, another good reason to help avoid violations in advance,” McCarthy said.
- Scooby Axson