Bill Belichick disputed the penalty, which was added to the rule book this season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
A new, never-before-called rule burned Chris Jones and the New England Patriots in overtime Sunday.
Jones was called for "pushing" one of his teammates into the line on Nick Folk's 56-yard field goal attempt in overtime, which Folk pulled wide to the left. The penalty, a 15-yarder for unsportsmanlike conduct, gave the Jets another shot at their potential game-winning possession; Folk hit a 42-yarder for the 30-27 overtime victory minutes later.
The call on Jones was made under Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3.2 of the NFL's 2013 rule book, which states that "[Defensive] players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation." That provision was added only this season and, according to FOX's Mike Pereira, Jones was the first player unfortunate enough to be called for the foul.
The play, as provided by SBNation:
The circle on Jones there came courtesy of CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf. Jones appeared to loop around behind his teammate in an attempt to block Folk's kick up the middle. Was it the right call? Pereira said yes:
By the letter of the law, it seems that the officials got this one right. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick, perhaps predictably, disagreed. He argued, according to the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe, that "there wasn't a push in the second level that would require a flag."
Back in September, the league explained that its adjusted rules on field goals and extra points were put into place because "defensive teams were rushing through the gaps created by the overload. After looking at a lot of tape, NFL Competition Committee members found too many injuries were caused by this formation." Hand-in-hand with the rule utilized Sunday was a ban on lining up six players to either side of the ball on the line of scrimmage, which is the "overload" referenced there.
After the game, referee Jerome Boger told Patriots pool reporter Mike Reiss that "any push" in that scenario should result in a flag now. "It could be with the body, not necessarily with the hand, but with the body into his teammate, into the formation," Boger said. "It’s any type of pushing action."
The Patriots had rallied late to force overtime, with Tom Brady leading a drive that moved the Patriots from the New England 8 to the Jets' 26 before stalling out. New England's Stephen Gostkowski then hit from 44 yards to send the game to OT. Brady's crew had the ball first in the extra session, too, but failed to put any points on the board, meaning the Jets needed only a field goal to win.
They got it, with an assist similar to the one they earned in Week 1 at Tampa Bay. In the waning seconds of that game, the Buccaneers' Lavonte David was penalized 15 yards for hitting Geno Smith out of bounds after a scramble -- a call that moved the Jets to the Bucs' 30. Folk nailed a 45-yarder for the win following that penalty.