NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — NFL head of officiating Al Riveron on Monday defended his controversial reversal of a Jets touchdown against the Patriots.
With 8:24 to play in Sunday’s game and the Jets trailing 24-14, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a short pass from Josh McCown and then fought through two defenders into the end zone near the sideline, with a referee initially signaling a touchdown. However, after reviewing the play at NFL headquarters in New York, Riveron overturned the call, saying Seferian-Jenkins briefly fumbled the ball before crossing the goal line and did not re-establish possession before going out of bounds.
The Patriots were awarded the ball at their own 20-yard line and went on to win, 24-17.
“No doubt about it,” Riveron told reporters in a conference call Monday. “It was clear and obvious. Unless it’s clear and obvious to us, we will not change the ruling on the field.”
Mike Pereria and Dean Blandino, former NFL vice presidents of officiating who now work for Fox Sports, said they disagreed with the ruling.
“It did look like he regained control and that left knee might’ve just touched inbounds before he slid out of bounds,” Blandino said. “There were a lot of ifs and mights … and usually that means the call on the field should stand.”
On the field, Seferian-Jenkins couldn’t believe the touchdown was overturned, but in the locker room after the game, he took the blame.
“I feel like I scored,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “But at the end of the day, that’s what the refs called. I’m going to go with what the refs said. But I’ve got to have better ball security.”
Jets coach Todd Bowles also downplayed the call.
“From my angle on the replay, I didn’t see the ball fumbled,” he said. “I saw it bobbled and I saw him gain control of it. I’m not going to blame the game on one play.”
Some Jets, however, did not hold back.
“I’m pretty sure everybody’s going to look back and say that was a B.S. call,” wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said.
“I’ve never seen somebody get called for a fumble when they’re still holding on to the ball,” cornerback Buster Skrine told SNY.
The Patriots, however, thought it was the right call.
“When Malcolm (Butler) came off the field, the first thing he told me was the ball was out,” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “And I thought they were reviewing whether he had crossed the goal line or not, but Malcolm obviously had a real good look at it and was sure it was out. … That was the ruling, and that’s why ball possession is so important down there.”