If you're going to look into a conspiracy theory with the Patriots' overtime penalty yesterday, it's not the dubious claim that the NFL changed the rule after the game.
The realistic scenario is that the Jets knew the Patriots had engaged in the now-illegal technique of pushing a teammate through the line on a field goal block, and alerted the officials to it.
ESPNNewYork.com and the Boston Globe both chronicled how the Patriots had used the illegal push against the Saints last week. There was a new rule for this season that a teammate can't push another from behind on a field goal block. The first time it was called was on Sunday in overtime against the Patriots, as the Jets missed a 56-yard field goal. The Jets took advantage of the 15-yard penalty and won the game later in the drive.
The Globe's Ben Volin had a screen shot of the Patriots using the technique against the Saints (on that play and the penalized play against the Jets, No. 94 Chris Jones is doing the pushing):
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) October 21, 2013
Worth noting: The Saints' defensive coordinator is Rob Ryan, the brother of Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
NFL.com's Albert Breer said that the Jets did alert the officials to a few things to watch for before Sunday's game, including the field-goal push:
I'm told Jets coaches did alert officials to several things to watch for w/Pats' special teams, inc potential FG push, before Sunday's game. — Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 21, 2013
That type of thing happens often in the NFL before games, it just turns out that the Jets hit the jackpot when the Patriots did it in a key spot and the officials caught it.
Volin wrote that he saw no other pushing infractions in reviewing all seven Patriots games this season. On Monday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he was wrong on Sunday when he said the rule was that a player behind the line couldn't push a teammate. Jones started on the line, and moved back to push his teammate. Belichick corrected himself on Monday.
"Because obviously we are wrong," Belichick said, according to the transcript. "What else is there to say? We’re wrong."
There was a theory floated that the NFL changed the wording of the rule after the game, but SI.com's Greg Bedard tweeted the page of the rule book that shows the wording about it applying to the players on the second level wasn't included when the rule was amended and included.
If nothing else, the behind-the-scenes gamesmanship will add some fire to a rivalry that already ran pretty hot.
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