We must have been destined to beat New England on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. What other explanation is there when we almost gave the ball to the Patriots at their 46 after a missed franchise-long field goal try ... but then got it back on the first application of a new NFL player safety rule and went on to kick the game-winning field goal 14 yards closer.
Well, maybe not destiny but luck and good officiating played a hand in the penalty call, which resulted from Patriots rookie DT Chris Jones pushing a teammate into the middle of the Jets' offensive line during the kick. So said referee Jerome Boger, whose crew called the penalty, as well as Tony Dungy on NBC's "Football Night in America" tonight."
"The call was that No. 94 on the defense pushed his teammate into the formation," Boger told a pool reporter after the game. "That is a rule change for 2013 that a teammate cannot push a teammate into the opponents' formation. ... It's any type of pushing action."
"This is a new rule and a rule that the players asked for, a rule for safety," Dungy explained. "You cannot push in the middle of the line of scrimmage. Chris Jones comes in from behind and pushes his teammate. This should be called and it had to be called."
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked about the call, which took a potential short drive to a game-winning field goal for his team and gave it back to the Jets. He answered the questions with short responses:
"We weren't on the second level when we pushed him. ... You can't push from the second level but I don't think we did that."
But Dungy stood his ground with his interpretation of the rule, which was instituted by the league this season.
"It doesn't say anything about second level," Dungy said. "It says you cannot push into the line of scrimmage. The officials did a good job calling it."
Jones took the hit in the visitors' locker room for committing the foul.
"We've probably talked about it before," he said. "It slipped my mind at the time. Now I know it. I just have to keep that in mind during the upcoming games so I don't make that mistake again. ... The mistake was mine. I take it, I put it on my shoulders. It was all my fault, it was no one else."
Our side was happy to be the beneficiaries of the call, especially Folk, who said he saw the flag go up after he kicked the ball but before it faded outside the left upright.
"As soon as I saw them conferencing, I knew it was either for push or leverage," Folk said. "At first when I saw the flag, I thought it might have been 12 men on the field, but it was the pushing call, which is new this year. They're trying to protect guys. The offensive linemen and the snapper just have to sit there and take it. They can't really fire off like you would on an offensive play or something like that, so you've got no chance to protect yourself.
"It's a good rule and they just ended up breaking the rule."
As is Rex Ryan's custom, the Jets' head coach wasn't offering to give anything back after Folk's 42-yard kick won the game three plays later.
"I was fairly happy about it," Ryan said. "I was like, 'You know what? It's about time we got a break.' That's really what I was thinking. It just worked out."