Lots of controversy—fun, silly controversy—over the overtime penalty on the Patriots that may have cost them Sunday's game at the Jets. Tackle Chris Jones was flagged for pushing teammate Will Svitek into the offensive line, negating a missed field goal. The first conspiracy theory was that the NFL had retroactively changed the rulebook; that was false. The second and currently in-vogue retort from New England is that the Jets used the same push move during the game, and it went uncalled.
It's been reported that Jets coaches alerted officials to look out for the Patriots defense pushing on FG attempts, after they noticed New England doing it the previous week against the Saints, with the exact same personnel. But the Jets, and the officials, would lose any moral high ground if it turned out New York had pulled the same illegal push move.
That's what Bill Belichick implied on a conference call with reporters yesterday. Appearing to brush the question off, he couldn't help but drop in a quick snipe:
"Well, I mean, since they were using the play themselves, I don't even know about all that. But basically we're just moving on here."
Belichick's likely referring to this image which has been making the rounds. It appears to show Quinton Coples shoving Muhammad Wilkerson into and over New England's long snapper, on the FG that tied the game at the end of regulation.
It sure does look like Coples is shifting over to hurl Wilkerson into his defender. But TheJetsBlog has found the play from an alternate angle, and it's a lot more ambiguous.
From the side on, it's clear that Coples doesn't slide over behind Wilkerson, as Jones did to Svitek (twice). Jones's only intent was to shove Svitek. Here, Coples is wrapped up with his own man, and gives Wilkerson a push with his right arm, not the full-body heave it appears to be in the first gif.
Still, the rule declares only that "players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation," so in the most technical of terms, it should have been a penalty. But it's closer to a gray area than the Patriots' clearly designed push.