Had the Jets come back to beat the Giants on Saturday, there would have been a lot written about the officiating in the game. The Giants had three critical plays reviewed and go the way of the Jets. All three looked as if they could have been called turnovers.
“I think there were a lot of questionable calls in that game that could have went in our favor but didn’t go in our favor,” said Rolle, who was in the middle of one of them. “We weren’t going to let it crack us. We’re a physically strong defense, a mentally strong defense, and we went out there with one goal in mind which was to go out there and play our best game.”
The plays could have been monumental. The first was in the second quarter when Jeremy Kerley caught a 5-yard pass and was tackled by Antrel Rolle. The ball popped out and Aaron Ross scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown that would have given the Giants a 17-7 lead. But because all scoring plays are reviewed, this one was given a closer look. While it appeared that Kerley’s left elbow came down on Rolle’s left foot and not the turf as the two tangled to the ground, the officials ruled that Kerley was down and disallowed the touchdown.
“Being that it was initially called a fumble, I don’t think there was enough evidence to overturn it,” Rolle said. “But as I look closely it could have gone either way. It happens. It was a play no matter how they called it we were going to keep grinding and not let it affect our play and create more turnovers, which we did.”
The other two came in the fourth quarter. The first was what looked like a strip of Mark Sanchez by Jason Pierre-Paul. Justin Tuck recovered the ball, which is ironic because it was the “tuck rule” that negated the turnover. The officials decided that Sanchez’ arm was going forward at the time of the fumble, even though the strip happened low and near his body as he was apparently pulling it in towards him. The Jets did not score on that drive – they fumbled at the Giants’ 2 – but on their next possession Linval Joseph appeared to bat the ball out of Sanchez’ hand. That was initially ruled a fumble on the field (although it was recovered by the Jets for a loss of 17 yards), but overturned after Rex Ryan challenged it. Three plays later the Jets scored to make it 20-14 with 7:17 remaining.
“I just think we have to look at this again,” Coughlin said of the rules and the way plays are reviewed. “There are two or three things there. The fumble, was the ball on the shoe of Antrel? Was the elbow on the shoe? It just looked difficult to overturn something like that.
“The rules are exactly the way the officials are supposed to interpret them, but when a ball is taken that low after the idea that the ball was going to be released and then pulled down (on the Pierre-Paul strip), that appears to me to be a little bit different story,” Coughlin continued. “I had not had a chance to speak to the officials. I’m sure they will support the way that the referees judged the play and the way things are written today, it’s probably the way it should have been. It’s tough to call it that way when you’re standing on the other sideline. Those are big plays. They had had seven teams score against them on defense. It wouldn’t be anything new for us to get the ball in the end zone. That was obviously huge.”
The Giants have been involved in several of those plays that have gone to review and not been clear-cut decisions this season. Remember a few weeks ago when Coughlin and Jerry Reese were walking the hallways with what they thought was photographic proof of Jake Ballard's knee being down in bounds on a potential touchdown. And it’s made it difficult for Coughlin and his staff to decide when to challenge calls, as he has lost his last seven in a row and was denied a chance to challenge one on a Santonio Holmes incompletion that could have been another turnover on Saturday.
“I can’t tell you how many of these things are inconclusive,” Coughlin said. “It’s incredible, really. I guess someone else would argue from the other side, ‘What do you mean it’s inconclusive? The information is there for us. We make the call.’ But to me, standing on the field, getting information from above, (I ask) ‘Is it or isn’t it?’ (and am told) ‘I can’t see it all yet.’
“In my opinion, which probably nobody cares about, there have been many, many circumstances this year that have been: ‘Give me something that’s solid, will you?’ A lot of times I make a challenge simply because I don’t want to live with ‘what if?’”