COMMENTARY | The New York Jets improved to 4-3 with their overtime win over the AFC East rival New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. In typical Jets fashion, it came in bizarre and controversial fashion. After the Jets pulled out another unlikely victory on Sunday, complaints have surfaced about the legitimacy of their wins. I would say that's just how football goes. When you're on the bad side of the bounces, you hope they would come your way. When you're on the good side of them, enjoy it and don't feel the need to apologize. At the end of the day it's about wins, and right now the surprising Jets have four of them.
The defining play of the game came during Nick Folk's game winning 56-yard field goal attempt in overtime. New England Patriots lineman Chris Jones committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he pushed the back of lineman Will Svitek, attempting to gain leverage and ultimately block the field goal.
Referring to the NFL rule Book Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3: "Team B players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation."
Folk's attempt sailed wide-left, immediately making the play a national sports controversy. The 15-yard penalty resulted in Folk getting a reprieve from a much more manageable 42 yards away. He put it through the uprights and the Jets had an improbable and thrilling 30-27 victory.
The referee said after the game making the call on Nick Folk's 56-yard field goal attempt was quite easy. The rule may be new this season, but according to it the violation is clear. Even Jones himself said after the game he knew there was a rule against providing leverage to another player but in the moment, forgot. We also heard Tony Dungy and several other players/coaches defend the call on the field during postgame analysis.
Those taking issue with the referees for making that call could not be more off base. Your gripe is with the league, not officials enforcing the rules. If Svitek would've blocked the kick and the call not been made, a huge disservice would've been done in not enforcing a rule just because it was the end of a game. Maybe the rule needs to be more specific in noting players coming from a second level or from the same line of defense, but no such specification currently exists.
Credit to Rex Ryan for tipping off the officials about the Pats' tendency to violate this particular rule. The truth is that teams all over the league have done a variation of this attempted leverage play, it just hasn't been called yet. By alerting the officials, Ryan drew some extra attention towards something the referees may not have called otherwise. I guess head coaches find all sorts of ways to help their teams win.
The rule is actually one the players pushed for themselves with the hope of achieving greater safety for the players. If you don't like it: tough luck. Blame the league if you want, but definitely not the officials. Or just keep being mad because it's so easy to hate the Jets and they're just not as bad as you wish they would be.
What would a Jets win be without a contingent of people trying to discredit the victory? If the Jets haters got their way, we would be taking away half of gang green's wins because they didn't deserve them. It was the Jets fault that the Bucs' Lavonte David committed a legitimate penalty in Week 1. More recently, it had to be some kind of farce that Patriots' lineman Jones committed an even clearer penalty on Sunday.
The funny part is the irony that comes along with complaining about the play from the New England side of it. I don't see anybody handing back the Super Bowl ring that wouldn't have been won without the "tuck rule." Al Davis is still ranting about that one in his grave. The fact of the matter is that the bounces and breaks of the game go for and against everyone and end up balancing themselves out. Lucky for the Jets, they've been the beneficiaries of their opponents' mistakes. Who hasn't been at one time or another? Even Tom Brady would have to look back at that 2001 AFC divisional playoff game, to the start of their dynasty and admit that you've got to be lucky to be good.
The Jets have nothing to apologize for and neither do their fans. Jet nation deserves to enjoy the biggest win of the season and feel excited heading into Cincinnati. The penalty doesn't take away from all the things the Jets did to get themselves in a position to win. It doesn't take away from the comeback after being down two scores at halftime. The denial of the Jets winning legitimately is nothing more than more fuel to the fire of doubt that has been driving the Jets since the opening week of the season.
Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells once said: "You are what your record says you are." For the Jets, that would make them slightly above average right now. There is no guarantee it gets better or even stays that good, but one thing this team does give you is some hope. Right now, Jet fans should be happy with where their team is and bask in that over .500 lifestyle. They should enjoy their team playing gritty and inspired football, despite their inconsistencies.
With the Jets only one game out of the division and in the pack of the wild card hunt, gang green's season holds a relevance that so many of us would have only been able to imagine in August. Let's take it week to week with our promising rookie quarterback and dominating front seven while knowing there is nothing to be sorry about.
Brian Sausa is a Queens native and a freelance writer that contributes to Yahoo Sports with Knicks and Jets pieces. Previously covered a variety of NY area teams for New York Sports World. Intern at UAlbany Sports Info Department. Twitter @BrianSausa
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