Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday that fault for the controversial penalty call that gave second life to the Jets’ game-winning drive on Sunday did not lie with rookie defensive lineman Chris Jones.
Jones was flagged with a 15-yard penalty that negated a 56-yard miss by Jets’ kicker Nick Folk and allowed him a second-chance to kick a game-ending field goal in overtime of the 30-27 win by New York.
“I think Chris is obviously trying to do the right thing by stepping up and taking responsibility but that’s not his responsibility, it’s ours,” Belichick said. “We just have to do a better job of coaching that. It’s not his fault, that’s on me [and] the coaching staff, we just have to do a better job there.”
Jones was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — which technically should have been unnecessary roughness — for violating Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3, which was introduced this year: “players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation.”
In discussing the call during his post-game press conference, Belichick noted that “we weren’t on the second level when we pushed him” but it appears this is where the mistake was made by New England. There is no mention of players coming from the second level in the actual rule.
Game referee Jerome Boger clarified to a pool reporter that the rule states that one teammate cannot push another teammate into the opponents’ formation. On replay, Jones is pushing Will Svitek forward just after the snap.
Belichick was asked on Monday where he got the notion of second-level players being part of the rule, and he said, “Because obviously we are wrong. What else is there to say? We’re wrong.”
Asked further if the rule was not properly articulated by the league, Belichick responded, “Look, it’s our job to understand the rules. Whatever the bottom line is, we didn’t do it properly. So what else is there to say?”
As much as Belichick said it’s a coaching error, one question came as to whether Jones was simply acting on instinct, but again Belichick pointed the finger at himself and his staff.
“No. We have to coach him better,” Belichick said. “What he did was basically what he was being told to do. We just have to coach it better. That’s not Chris Jones’ fault.”