"Tuck Rule" and "Spy Gate" meet "Rule 913 (b2)."
It states that "[defensive players] cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation" on a field goal or PAT try. It was added to the Official Playing Rules this season.
Before Sunday, it had never been called.
But the NFL wasn't teetering on the verge of irrelevancy in New York so early in the season before Sunday, either.
Patriots defensive lineman Chris Jones, who had 10 tackes and two sacks against the Jets, was lined up behind Will Svitek and attempted to shove his teammate through the center of the Jets line. Nick Folk's 57-yard overtime field goal attempt fluttered wide left after not being affected by Jones' play.
Here's a GIF of the play here:
None of that mattered to Tony Michalek, who threw the flag.
The officials consulted.
They got a call directly from Commissioner Roger Goodell's office. They were told uphold the call because New York's two NFL teams were about to fall to a combined 3-10 and be out of any realistic playoff contention this year with nine weeks left in the season. The league needed to avoid the hit of having both of teams located in the nation's top media market being unwatchable in the same season, tanking TV ratings on games that have to broadcast locally, especially in a season where the Super Bowl is headed to Met Life Stadium.
OK, that last part didn't happen, or maybe it did. It's no more crazy or unrealistic than all the other whackjob conspiracy theories that have been generated by the success of the Patriots in the past dozen seasons.
The Jets would be awarded 15 extra yards and a first down, eventually setting up Folk for his game-winning 42-yarder in the Jets' 30-27 OT victory over the Patriots [5-2].
For millions, this was karmatic payback. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick getting the shaft thanks to a ridiculously timed call that was barely correct on the strictest interpretation of the law.
"Tommy Boy" and "Belicheat" finally got theirs from the NFL and the refs.
The most laughable part about this rule is that the NFL instituted it to increase player safety.
You know, the same league that has celebrated certain players while they were still being tried for murder, or just settled a lawsuit for its injured retirees for $765 million, or saw three starting QBs knocked out on Sunday alone.
If the NFL was deadly serious about player safety, it would ban face-masks and bring back leather helmets. The head would no longer be used as weapon. You'd see more broken noses, bloodied faces and chipped teeth, but fewer players taken off on stretchers or lost for weeks with concussions.
"We just enforced it as he called it," referee Jerome Boger said via a pool reporter, adding, "It's any type of pushing action."
After the game, Belichick said the call should not have been made because Jones wasn't a "second-level" player, meaning that the rule only applied if someone came in from behind the line of scrimmage.
There's no mention of any "second-level" player in Rule 913, at least in the version posted on NFL.com on 6:32 p.m. Sunday.
"(a) When Team A presents a punt, field-goal attempt or a Try Kick formation, a Team B player, who is within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage, must have his entire body outside the snapper's shoulder pads at the snap. (b) When Team A presents a field-goal or Try Kick formation: (1) No more than six Team B players may be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper at the snap; Penalty: For illegal formation by the defense, loss of 5 yards from the previous spot. (2) Team B players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation. Penalty: For unnecessary roughness, loss of 15 yards from the previous spot."
But here's what appeared on a Google cached version of the NFL.com page that explained the rule before it was updated:
The part about players "not on the line of the scrimmage" was removed by the NFL's website after Belichick spoke on Sunday, ostensibly to eliminate confusion, reported CSNNE.com's Tom E. Curran.
The Push Rule didn't change, just the explanation of it. Changing it just further muddied the issue, and damaged the NFL's credibility when it comes to credibility.
One thing is for sure, there's no Push Rule when the Chargers play the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
There were no "unicorns" or "showponies" at Met Life Stadium on Sunday. They were too hung over after partying with the Red Sox and their fans at Fenway Park Saturday night.
Jones took the hit after the game, in true Patriot Way style, saying it was his mistake and he realized his misdeed once he saw the flag. But who can blame him when it's obvious that the NFL can't properly explain its own rule until Belichick tried to do it for them.
"It's about time we caught a break," said coach Rex Ryan.
Ryan told the Jets to avoid any hanky-panky last week. No directives were given to the NFL to avoid it on Sunday.
"Don't do nothing for your wife. Say, baby, next week," the coach said, at least according to Josh Cribs.
After this win, Ryan's wife won't be able to put her shoes back on until Thanksgiving.
The silver lining in this crushingly ill-timed call and buzz-kill loss is that it allows us to complete de-legitimize everything the Jets accomplished Sunday along with anything they do for the rest of time.
The Jets are 4-3 and can now contend for the wildcard in the AFC, if not the AFC East title. But whatever they accomplish until Armageddon will be forever deemed a result of "Rule 913 (b2)" and nothing else.
Shoe, meet other foot.
While the officials had a crucial impact on the game's ending, the Patriots were responsible for its outcome. Sunday's game was replete with bad calls, mostly from the microphone of Josh McDaniels, whose non-existent running game and bland offensive direction were no match to the Jets' defensive front and the double and triple and quadruple coverage draped on Rob Gronkowski.
Matt Patricia was no Buddy Ryan. The depleted Patriots' defensive scheme failed when it left too many receivers open on man-to-man coverage and was unable to stop the Jets' bruising running game, as New York gained 177 yards rushing.
But none of that mattered. Because the only reason why the Jets won Sunday, and the Patriots lost, was because of Rule 913(b2), right?
Sounds about as idiotic as saying every championship the Patriots won occurred because they cheated, or because of the "Tuck Rule" somehow not being properly enforced. Welcome to the world of the drones, haters and crybabies who continue to blab about the "Tuck Rule" or "Spy Gate" whenever the Patriots win anything. ["Spy Gate" fills my Twitter feed and our Boston.Com fan chats when the Patriots' beat the Jets.] Sometimes you have to crawl in the sewer when you're dealing with rodents.
No need here for a reasoned breakdown detailing how the Jets' defense shut down Brady on the first four possessions of the 3rd quarter with a pick-six and three straight three-and-outs.
Nor do we need sober analysis of Geno Smith's ability to wreck the Patriots on third down. The Jets converted on 11 third downs, including distances of 10, 6, 7, 21, 5, 14 and 6 yards.
And on any other day or against any other opponent, we'd dwell on the fact that the Patriots were just 1 for 12, despite the return of Gronkowski, on third down.
In the world of football cliches, the Patriots were soundly beaten in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Ryan coached his best game in years, at least a game that anyone who mattered was watching, and pulled off a masterful feat by beating the Patriots in key matchups all day.
Ryan deserves rich praise for keeping Brady and Belichick on their toes all day.
Speaking of Gronk, last week were led to believe thanks to no facts at all that Brady was somehow behind a lockerroom character assassination attempt on Gronk. Sunday, Gronkowski was targeted 17 times Sunday [8 catches for 114 yards] and was Brady's Binky of Choice throughout the game. So much for treating conjecture as fact.
We don't hide our fandom here, but we also don't hide the truth. This space eviscerated the Patriots after their AFC title embarrassment against Baltimore.
[And we did write "It's now up to John Lackey and the Bruins to salvage what's left of 2013" on Jan. 21.]
When the Giants snuffed out New England in Super Bowl XLVI, this spaced accorded the proper respect to Eli Manning, Mario Manningham and the greatness of Tom Coughlin, as we blamed Gisele for the rest of the world's problems.
By necessity, some rules are different when it comes to the Jets. For years, we've heard nothing but "Tuck Rule" and "Spy Gate" babble from this Gang Green and others.
But mainly from Gang Green.
When your team hasn't won a Super Bowl since before man walked on the moon, watching your biggest rivals win Super Bowls, and or beat each other up in the process, has to hurt.
The Jets know just how badly things can suck when you suck.
For the Jets management and players, their fans and their State Run Media, the success of the Patriots was never a result of Brady's talents, Belichick's coaching, the play of the likes of Tedy Bruschi, or Willie McGinest, or Jerod Mayo, or Wes Welker, or Logan Mankins, or anyone else in uniform.
It was always "Tuck Rule" and "Spy Gate."
If the Jets somehow reach the playoffs, return to the AFC title game or, God forbid, win another Super Bowl before the NFL puts a franchise on the moon, please just remember that the players, coach or management had nothing to do with it.
It was all because of "Rule 913 (b2)."
Don't forget to visit our Obnoxious Boston Fan blog. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail me at email@example.com.
The author is solely responsible for the content.