EAST RUTHERFORD — Bad calls happen in any sport. That’s the nature of the game. When calls are made that consistently go against a certain team though, then questions need to start being asked.
That’s the case the New York Jets are currently in.
After a tough 23-20 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, the team can come away with plenty of positive takeaways even if they are just 1-3 on the year. It’s hard to argue against some of the organization’s biggest frustrations though.
In the loss, the Jets were victims of controversial calls throughout the contest, especially late in the game. There were missed holding calls, phantom ineligible men downfield penalties, and two straight penalties on third-and-long that would have given the ball back to their offense with plenty of time to try and win the game on their own. The worst of which came in the closing minutes of the contest.
All-Pro cornerback Sauce Gardner, on third-and-20, played man coverage against Chiefs’ receive Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Gardner and MVS were hand-fighting for position while Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a prayer of a pass up in the air that was intercepted by Jordan Whitehead.
After the interception was made, the far-side referee threw his flag and called a holding penalty on Gardner – effectively ending the game before New York had a chance to get the ball back.
Outside of the fact that BOTH teams were playing physically against receivers all game, the call made at such an important time in the contest surprised both Gardner and the Jets coaching staff.
“The receiver ran into me, there was a collision, same thing that was happening all game, & they threw no flags. Pat threw the ball outside the receiver, MC was there, he made the play, and then the ref threw the flag. Me personally, that’s like when you play basketball 1-on-1 & you go up to lay the ball up & you wait to see you miss, & then say foul. I can’t believe that. I don’t even know what to say,” Gardner explained.
The NFL has not commented on the holding calls or any other missed penalties made by their crew at this time.
Gardner wasn’t the only person frustrated with the calls or lack thereof.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh was so angry following the missed call that he took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. When asked for his thoughts after the game the coach simply said “I have a lot of thoughts but I’m going to stay quiet.”
In fairness, there were questionable calls throughout the game from the officiating crew as well. New York had a phantom horse-collar tackle made early in the second quarter. That being said, the tilt of the game came when the officials made calls directly against one team and not the other. It also doesn’t help that the Jets have already been burned by late calls in games as well. The NFL apologized for a mistake on a roughing the passer called in Dallas that turned the game into a blowout. New York has also not been a benefactor of a roughing the passer call in recent years – something the rest of the league has received over the years.
The NFL does not need to fully comment on any of this immediately. They want a highly popular product where controversies are welcome. In that instance, a poorly officiated game against the league’s best team is something they’ll gladly take – provided said team wins the game.
With jobs on the line though, and an increased push into the sports gambling world, the NFL is bound to create questions on their own about the effectiveness of their officiating crews and how major calls are being made at an inconsistent mark.
And it certainly seems that the Jets are being made the poster child for missed calls over the start of the 2023 season too.