It's inevitable that there will be controversy in a Patriots and Jets game. The latest from NJ.com accuses the officials of helping the Patriots avoid a penalty on the game ending field goal. The ref is seen highlighted, touching Patriots middle linebacker Dont'a Hightower prior to the snap with Hightower moving to the side.
The rule in question is as follows:
Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3(a): Defensive Team Formation on Scrimmage Kicks:
When Team A presents a punt, field-goal, or Try Kick formation, a Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage, must have his entire body outside the snapper's shoulder pads at the snap.
This rule was installed for the sake of player safety, to prevent snappers from being injured. Violate and you're penalized five yards. Of course, if it's for the sake of safety, it would make sense for the officials to do it for everyone, not just the Patriots.
Which they do:
Both found within 10 minutes of Zoltan Buday's search. It happens and it's normal.
A more important piece left out the fact that Hightower was never in position to be flagged; he wasn't within a yard of the line of scrimmage.
Unless the ref's biceps is one yard long, Hightower was definitely more than a yard away from the center. pic.twitter.com/r9EcfLQqSH— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) October 17, 2014
The ball is slightly behind the 40 yard line, which means that Hightower could go slightly within the 39 yard line without being penalized. You can see the official's feet between the 38 and 37 yard line. He's touching Hightower with a bent forearm. Unless the official's bicep has the reach of over a yard, Hightower wasn't even in position to be flagged.
The real issue is that the Jets opted to settle for a 58 yard field goal attempt from the 40 yard line, which has a low 34.5% conversion rate. The Jets have no one to blame for this loss but themselves.