In the wake of the New York Jets’ 30-21 loss to the New England Patriots, Jets linebacker Calvin Pace fuming over what he deemed to be unfavorable calls by the officials.
While not blaming the referees for the loss, Pace had gripes with a few calls that could have gone either way and certainly didn’t do the Jets any favors on the road in a hostile environment.
The most controversial play, and the one that Pace most had an issue with, was a play near the goal line involving Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch that was ruled a fumble on the field, then overturned after a challenge by New England.
Tom Brady scrambled to his right, with Jets rookie defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in hot pursuit, and Brady found Branch for a completion inside the Jets’ 5-yard line.
Branch, who slid down to the turf to make the catch, tried to regain his footing and advance the ball before Calvin Pace jostled the ball loose. The Jets appeared to have a game-changing turnover before the officials ruled that Branch was down by contact.
Pace’s gripe was that the ruling on the field was a fumble, and by rule, it can be overturned without indisputable evidence that it was not a fumble.
Branch appeared to juggle the ball with his knee on the ground, which means he may not have had possession even when he was ruled to have been down by contact.
“It was a fumble,” Pace said. “And again, the referees missed another one. You know what they’re going to do? They’re going to write us a letter about how they missed another call and what does that do? Nothing.
“I guess it’s human error, so what can you do? We got a call that just ain’t right. If it wasn’t a fumble [Branch] wouldn’t have gotten up and tried to run.”
“It was one of those bang-bang plays,” Branch said. “The thing that saved [us] was the replay. If my knee wouldn’t have been down, it would have been a fumble.”
The officials clearly believed there was enough evidence to rule that Branch had possession with his knee on the ground when Pace first contacted him, and the challenge gave the Patriots the ball back for an easy touchdown a few plays later.
“It’s very disheartening, man,” Pace said. “Guys were playing their hearts out against a very talented team and when people [the referees] make mistakes it costs you. What can you do, man It’s terrible. Did that cost us the game? I don’t know. Probably not. But there was a lot of questionable stuff that I thought wasn’t right.”
When asked what other specific calls he had issue with, Pace mentioned “some of the so-called pass interference stuff” against Jets defensive backs that gave New England crucial first downs that were backbreaking for the Jets.
While the Jets aren’t blaming the zebras for their recent slide, it’s obvious that people are going to be frustrated when borderline calls keep favoring the other team.
The bottom line is, the Jets have to be able to overcome adversity and take advantage of the breaks they get if they want to be the team that their coach believes they can be.