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Week 6 Patriots vs Jets: Controversial touchback ruling could have gone differently if Bill Belichick had gotten his wish

New England's head coach has been arguing for pylon cameras since forever.

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

One of the biggest decisions during the New England Patriots' 24-17 victory over the New York Jets was not made by one of the team's coaches or players. Instead, it was made by the NFL's officiating crew headed by referee Tony Corrente and the league's senior vice president of officiating Alberto Riveron; the latter of which sitting in New York City and handling reviews.

Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Patriots on top 24-14, the Jets were in a position to cut the deficit to three points by driving deep into New England territory. On a 2nd and 4, the team succeeded – or so it seemed. New York tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a pass in the left flat and was pushed towards the pylon by defensive backs Duron Harmon and Malcolm Butler.

The play was initially ruled a touchdown. As is the case with every score, though, it had to be reviewed – and that's where the above-mentioned Alberto Riveron comes into play. He is the one responsible for making the final call on a play and potentially overturning the call on the field. And overturn it Riveron did as the replay revealed that Seferian-Jenkins lost control of the football while being tackled.

And while the tight end did ultimately re-gain it, it was too late by the vice president of officiating's estimation. The initial call was overturned and instead of a touchdown Jets, the play was ruled a fumble out of the endzone – the result of which a touchback and possession for the Patriots. Unsurprisingly, this ruling was not met with universal approval.

Two of Riveron's predecessors in the NFL front office, Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino, argued that they would not have changed the call due to a lack of undisputable evidence supporting it – and this is the major problem with the ruling. Seferian-Jenkins was seen juggling the football and the next available shot of him showed him out of bounds on his back with the football in his hands.

What happened in between is up for debate. Tony Corrente argued that the tight end failed to re-establish possession of the football until after moving out of bounds. The visual evidence supports this line of thinking; ergo, the ultimate result is in accordance with the rules. Then again, Pereria and Blandino argue that the visual evidence does not clearly show Seferian-Jenkins not possessing the football when crossing the plane – aka the ruling on the field.

This grey area is where Bill Belichick comes in. For ages, the Patriots head coach had unsuccessfully been lobbying for pylon cameras to guard the side- and goallines. And for ages, the NFL owners meeting did not approve the necessary rule change. Cameras in the end zone pylons are still not part of the NFL's review operation even though some broadcasters have been using them in the past.

Could additional camera angles filmed from the pylon have made a difference in the ruling? Absolutely. They might have shown Seferian-Jenkins re-gaining control before falling out of bounds. Or, the tape might have confirmed the call without a shred of doubt. It might have helped give the fans some clarity as to what really happened in the split seconds between the tight end losing the football and grabbing it again.

However, this is all pure speculation. What cannot be argued, though, is that installing cameras to help make close and potentially game-changing calls like yesterday's should have happened a long time ago. It might or might not have made a difference yesterday. At least it would help decrease the percentage of doubt swirling around plays like this relatively easily.

Maybe now that the Patriots have benefitted from it, some owners will reconsider their stance on the topic – and the debate for pylon cameras will move forward like Belichick had intended it all those years.