FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Marty Mornhinweg didn’t like what he saw on the field, so he frantically tried to get Rex Ryan’s attention to call for a timeout.
That’s where all the problems started, the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator explained Monday.
Mornhinweg took full blame for the timeout call that negated a tying touchdown against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The Jets had fourth-and-4 from the Packers 36 with just over 5 minutes remaining and were trailing 31-24.
Mornhinweg liked the play call, but something about the alignment on the field bothered him. Ryan said it was one of the running backs, Bilal Powell, lined up improperly. So Mornhinweg ran down the sideline toward Ryan making the timeout signal with his hand.
The play clock had dropped under 15 seconds, shutting off the coach-to-quarterback radio connection — per NFL rules — and Mornhinweg couldn’t communicate with Geno Smith anymore. Mornhinweg tried to alert Ryan, who had switched to the defensive headset to set up in case the Jets’ offense didn’t convert.
But then, Mornhinweg saw that Smith had fixed things — so he stopped calling for the timeout.
“We’re rolling; we’re good. I didn’t even get Rex’s attention yet,” Mornhinweg said. “That’s the scenario.”
Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson saw Mornhinweg trying to get the timeout, so he leaned over to the official standing in front of him and yelled for the clock to be stopped. The timeout was granted and whistles blew — negating Jeremy Kerley’s leaping touchdown catch.
“Sheldon needs to take no accountability for that,” Mornhinweg said. “He was only trying to help.”
Ryan agreed, saying that by the time he noticed Mornhinweg, his assistant was waving off the timeout. But he heard his player yell for one.
“If you think you can help,” Ryan said, “you react like that.”
Only a head coach or player on the field can technically call a timeout. Officials, though, are instructed to not turn their attention from the field to verify who’s yelling it out. Ryan said it “happens more than you think” that timeouts are granted to another coach or player on the sideline.
Ryan had flashbacks to a similar gaffe he made while in Baltimore, where he was the defensive coordinator. In December 2007, the Ravens stuffed New England quarterback Tom Brady on a fourth-and-1 sneak — but the play was negated when Ryan called for time just before the snap. The Patriots went on to score the winning touchdown on that drive.
“You do it to try to help your team out,” Ryan said of his mistake, “but obviously that backfired.”
Sunday’s incident is something Mornhinweg plans to learn from moving forward.
“I’ve got to do a better job of communicating, and then trusting Big Geno,” he said. “I’ve got to trust Geno to get everything fixed before the 40-second clock (expires).”
The Jets actually made a first down on the next play, but the drive stalled from there.
It wasn’t the only reason for the Jets’ defeat, but it highlighted a frustrating sequence of events in which they lost an 18-point lead, lost their cool — star defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was ejected after throwing punches — and lost the game.
There was also the interception at the end of the first half in which Smith was hit as he threw, and 6-foot-7 tight end Zach Sudfeld was outleaped by the 5-11 Tramon Williams. Aaron Rodgers then led the Packers on a 10-play, 97-yard drive to get within five heading into the break.
The defense allowed Jordy Nelson to catch nine passes for a career-high 209 yards. An interception by David Harris was also negated when the Jets had too many men on the field and Damon Harrison couldn’t get to the sideline in time.
“As a team, you go and you learn from this,” Ryan said. “I’ve seen some teams that, when you have a game like this, it can turn your season on a positive note. That’s certainly the way I hope we respond to this game.”
NOTES: Ryan was uncertain of the status of WR Eric Decker, who strained his right hamstring in the game. “Hopefully he’ll be ready to roll on Monday,” he said. … Ryan said LG Brian Winters left briefly with a dislocated pinkie but came back in to finish the game.
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