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The Top 20 Patriots Moments of 2013: Number 16

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Our offseason countdown continues with the Number 16 Most Memorable Patriots Moment of 2013.

Ron Antonelli

In general, I enjoy writing this series. Recounting the Top 20 Patriots Moments of 2013 is a fun way to relive the season, recount some great memories, and look a little more deeply in the plays that helped define New England's 2013 campaign. However, this was one article in particular that I didn't enjoy writing at all. All it really did was make me angry and dredge up all of the old emotions that I originally experienced when this particular event first happened. However, it's emotions like this, combined with the overall impact it had on the season, that makes it so I can't leave it off the list purely out of spite. This was one of the more talked about events of Week 7, and because of that I had to put it in at the 16 spot.

But first, the list so far.

20. The New England Patriots sign Tim Tebow.
19. Aaron Dobson and Aqib Talib help the Patriots lock up a sloppy home opener against the New York Jets.

18. Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez depart for Denver and jail, respectively.
17. Michael Hoomanawanui makes a huge one-handed TD grab just before halftime against the Miami Dolphins.

Now for the Number 16 Most Memorable Patriots Moment of 2013.

16. The Patriots lose in OT to the Jets, courtesy of an interesting new rule.

The second matchup between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets came in October of last year at whatever the hell they call The Meadowlands now. While the Pats won the first contest between these two rivals, it wasn't pretty and left a lot of people questioning whether this team would be able to remain consistent with a bunch of rookies and no Rob Gronkowski running the offense. However, New England came into Week 7 sitting pretty at 5-1 with Gronk set to make his season debut against a 3-3 Jets team that had barely squeaked out a few wins on some last second calls and lucky bounces. The Patriots had just come off a huge win against the New Orleans Saints the week before and seemed poised to keep that momentum going. All signs pointed to a New England victory.

However, the Jets that took the field in Week 7 were nothing like the Jets that couldn't generate a single offensive touchdown against the Steelers the week before. Geno Smith took the first drive of the game 90 yards on 12 plays to put the Jets up 7-0 before the Patriots D was able to figure out what was going on. Luckily, Tommy B was able to answer with a 10 play, 80 yard drive of his own to tie things up at seven. The Jets then marched right back down the field, gaining yards in chunks, before a poor decision by Geno Smith led to a 79 yard pick six from Logan Ryan (a play which barely missed the cut for this list) to give New England the lead.

The Jets, however, simply refused to go away. Whether it was first down conversions on 3rd and long, some dropped New England passes (including a sure touchdown to Gronk that probably would have sealed the game), or intercepting Tommy B for a pick six of their own, New England couldn't put the game away and New York was able to take a 27-24 lead late into the 4th quarter. The Patriots found themselves at their own 8 yard line with just over two minutes to play and had to drive the entire length of the field in order to tie the game up. The end of regulation saw the score at 27-27.

To overtime we go.

New England won the toss and elected to receive. Starting from their own 22, Brady hit Gronk for 16 yards to bring the Patriots to their own 38. Brady's next pass was a sideline bomb to Dobson that the rookie probably should have caught, but was unable to haul in (thus further solidifying his well-earned nickname Aaron Dropson). Two more incompletions later, and Ryan Allen was forced to punt. The Jets had the ball at their own 20, needing only a field goal to win it.

As they had all game, New York used a steady mix of run and pass to methodically move down the field. Chris Ivory had a monster game, and the weak New England defensive line had a lot of trouble stopping him. However, rookie Jamie Collins stepped up when he was needed and teamed up with Chandler Jones to eventually force the Jets drive to stall at the New England 38, setting up a potential 56 yard field goal attempt from Nick Folk - by no means a gimme, but Folk is one of the most accurate kickers in the league and has the leg strength to do it, so Rex Ryan's decision to attempt it was ultimately a good one.

However, Folk pushed the kick wide left. New England was slated to get the ball back on their own 43, needing a hair over 20 yards to give Stephen Gostkowski an shot at the game winner. Everything was once again right with the world.

Until we all saw that flag.

Unsportsmanlike conduct, number 94 of the defense. 15 yard penalty, first down.

The Jets ran three plays up the gut and kicked a 42 yard field goal to win the game.

Nobody, including the Jets, really had any idea what had happened. The play was shown again and again (and again), and nobody could really see where there was anything that even remotely resembled unsportsmanlike conduct. All Jones did was stunt around in front of the center and rush forward, trying to get a hand up to block the kick. However, in his attempt, he also pushed Will Svitek forward as he rushed the kicker, which as of 2013 was against the rules. At the moment of the kick, the rule itself read:

Team B players not at the line of scrimmage at the snap cannot push players at the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation.

At the end of the day, it was the correct call; no pushing is no pushing, so you can't really get upset with the referees for throwing the flag. However, the penalty on Jones was the only one of that nature called all season. Furthermore, there was a bit of controversy surrounding the NFL changing the language of the rule to "clarify" who exactly isn't allowed to push, as discovered by Tom E. Curran. In the week following the game, the NFL network put together a montage of numerous other teams employing the exact same techniques to try and block a field goal, none of which got flagged - including the New York Jets earlier in the same game. Bill Belichick later mentioned this very fact to the refs, which led to the league admitting that they missed the call. Well they apparently missed all the other calls after that one as well, because we're all still waiting on another flag for pushing. But again...it was the correct call. I just wonder why it was the only one made all year.

It's amazing, when looking back at the NFL year as a whole, to see how basically a handful of plays alters the landscape of the entire season. This call is definitely one of them, as if there was no flag, New England gets the ball back, probably wins the game, and hosts Denver in the AFC Championship. Of course, there's also the chance that Folk misses that kick, Brady gets the ball back and throws another pick six/gets his other knee blown out on the ensuing play, so there's no sense driving ourselves crazy over what could have been.

To watch the field goal and chuckle at Dan Dierdorf desperately struggling to figure out what the hell is going on, click here.