It looked like the Jets and Patriots were ready for overtime. Until they were gone.
The count went up to three. The Jets were playing punt with less than 30 seconds left in regulation time.
Marcus Jones caught the ball at New England 16. He broke through to the right sideline. And he left.
He cut inside about 50, frustrating a player Braden Mannan obvious plan to kick Jones out of bounds. Jones eluded Mann – and Jones left.
Justin Hardy was the last chance to catch Jones. Hardy was closing in on a last-ditch effort to stop Jones from scoring a goal.
To come in Mac Wilson Older. He hit Hardy, knocking him down and allowing Jones to score.
But was it a legal block? Looks like it was a block in the back. The league says it’s not.
According to the NFL, the key is where the power comes from. The officials determined that the blockage came from the side and therefore did not throw the flag.
But that’s not what the rulebook says. In Rule 3, Section 4, the rulebook defines a block to the back as “a block that is delivered from behind the opponent’s back above his waist”. The rulebook also states that it is not a back block “if both of the blocker’s hands are on the opponent’s side”. However, the rulebook expressly states that “if any hand is on the back, it is a foul”.
In addition, Law 12, Section 1, Article 3 defines an illegal block as occurring when a player “blocks an opponent (from behind) in the back above the opponent’s waist or uses his or her arms or hands to push an opponent from behind in a way that affects his movement , with the exception of close play.
Watch the video. View again. Initial contact could have come from the side, but Wilson pushed Hardy in the back instantly (if not simultaneously). At least with one hand, at least with two. A push in the back (rather than in the side) put Hardy on the ground.
Was the first strike technically from the side? May be. Wilson pushed Hardy in the back with both hands? Absolutely.
And here’s the key, since it’s about parsing the language of the official rules. Given that the rulebook clearly states that a foul is considered a foul if either hand is on the opponent’s back, common sense dictates that any exception based on initial side contact before one or both hands are placed on the opponent’s back , such an exception will be printed in the rulebook. Without exception, “first contact from the side” is considered a foul if the blocker puts his hands on the opponent’s back and pushes him.
Here Wilson placed both hands on Hardy’s back. And pushed.
So it looks like it should have been a foul. That would take the touchdown off the board. The Patriots would have received the ball in the 25th minute. The kick came in the 15th minute. A 10-yard penalty would have been applied.
This would have resulted in the Patriots attempting a field goal of approximately 43 yards for a regulation win. By the way, Patriot kicker Nick Faulk conceded both a 43-yarder and a 44-yarder earlier in the game.
So yes, if the flag had been thrown, the game would have quite possibly ended in overtime. And if it came to overtime, who knows what would have happened?