Todd Bowles had just coached what presumably was his final home game with the Jets, but he went down swinging.
It began with a wild 44-38 overtime loss to the Packers. It continued at the interview podium, when the soft-spoken, usually cautious coach ripped the officiating after his team was penalized 16 times for 172 yards.
Bowles will be fined, but he got his money’s worth. “Taking no credit from them,’’ he said, “but we can’t play two teams.”
That was only the start. Asked about a pass-interference call against Trumaine Johnson that set up the winning score, Bowles said, “I felt it was a bad call, and there were quite a few other calls. It was one of those games. I haven’t seen one like that in my 18 or 19 years in the league.”
(Johnson left the locker room without speaking to reporters.)
There was more. “I thought we were playing two teams,” Bowles said. “I thought we were playing the Packers and the striped shirts.”
When someone noted that it was uncharacteristic of him to complain, he said, “That’s how bad it was.”
When Bowles was asked to specify other calls that bothered him, he said, “I’m sure I’m getting fined already, so I care not to say any more, but something’s got to be done about that. That’s ridiculous.”
The Packers took a 38-35 lead late in regulation when Aaron Rodgers ran a sneak on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line and the nose of the ball barely crossed the goal line, if at all.
What did Bowles think about that one?
“They said they reviewed it in New York and it was a touchdown,’’ he said. “I saw it differently.”
Untimely penalties have been a problem for the Jets, betraying a lack of discipline that is part of the reason Bowles is expected to be fired next week. One of his key players, defensive lineman Leonard Williams, was ejected in the second quarter for throwing a punch. Bowles agreed with that call. But on his way out the door, he had more to say about the officials than about his players, most of whom agreed with his assessment.
“He expressed it to you, so it’s obviously how he feels,” receiver Robby Anderson said. So how did Anderson feel? “Same way.”
Said receiver Jermaine Kearse: “I would agree . . . It’s already hard enough to win NFL games each week. Dealing with some tough stuff out there, it just makes it that much more frustrating.”
Cornerback Morris Claiborne said that after being called for hands to the face in the second quarter, he was told by the Packers receiver that he did not know what the official was talking about but would “take it.”
I don’t want to talk about the referees,” Claiborne said. “Todd said what he said about that, and I feel the same way.’’
The Jets committed eight penalties in the fourth quarter and overtime alone. “I actually have my money in my pocket, man, so I’m going to keep my comments to myself,” safety Jamal Adams said, seeking to avoid a fine.
Bowles did not, and the NFL will reach into his pocket this week.
“We had our chances to make something,” he said, “but at the same time, you can’t take it away from us.”