Prepare yourself for Officialgate.
The latest controversy happened Thursday night at the end of the Jets-Patriots game when Jets kicker Nick Folk lined up for a 58-yard field goal on the game's final play. The attempt was obviously a longshot — although Folk had already kicked four field goals earlier in the game — and this one ended up blocked by Patriots defensive end Chris Jones.
The Patriots went on to win, 27-25, while the Jets slipped to 1-6 and skulked home with six straight losses.
But an interesting thing happened just before the ball was snapped. Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower approached the line of scrimmage and attempted to stand just over Jets long snapper Tanner Purdum. According to the rule book (Rule 9-1-3(a)) the Patriots should have been called for illegal formation: "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."
But instead of a five yard infraction, an official stepped in, grabbed Hightower by his right arm, and apparently told him to move over with a little nudge — which Hightower quickly did. Thus saving the Pats a five yard penalty and allowing Folk a chance to kick a way more makeable 53-yard attempt.
Loading*PLEASE SHARE* ... HOLD UP DID YOU SEE THE REF SAVE N.E FROM GETTING A PENALTY FOR LINING UP OVER THE CENTER???? He should've just thrown the flag ARE YOU KIDDING ME? @NFL
There's no telling whether Folk would have made the shorter game-winner, but he has successfully kicked five field goals from 53 yards or greater in his career, and he was a perfect 13-for-13 on field goals this season—including one from beyond 50 yards.
Looks like the NFL has some explaining to do.