Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins thought he scored a touchdown and his reaction said it all. His mouth was agape and he walked toward referee Tony Corrente only to get slightly pushed back by coach Todd Bowles.
In the Jets’ 24-17 loss to the Patriots on Sunday afternoon, Seferian-Jenkins, his teammates and a majority of the 77,562 fans at MetLife Stadium, believed he had caught a 4-yard touchdown pass to get within 24-20 with 8:24 to play.
Seferian-Jenkins fought through two Patriots defenders into the end zone but lost the ball before landing into the pylon. Seferian-Jenkins did regain possession of the ball as he fell into the end zone. It was initially ruled a touchdown, but as with all scores, it’s reviewed and the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating Al Riverton in New York ruled Seferian-Jenkins fumbled the ball out of bounds for a touchback.
“I feel like I scored but at the end of the day, that’s what the ref called,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I’m going with what the ref said, they make the calls and I got to have better ball security and I’ve got to really make sure I make the necessary corrections so it doesn’t happen again.”
The Jets were dismayed by the call, one of several they disagreed with, a pass interference call on rookie safety Jamal Adams against Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski being another, because they didn’t understand the explanations.
“It came out of his [Seferian-Jenkins’] control as he was almost to the ground,” Corrente told a pool reporter. “Now he re-grasps the ball and by rule, now he has to complete the process of a recovery, which means he has to survive the ground again. So in recovering it, he recovered, hit the knee, started to roll and the ball came out a second time.
“So the ball started to move in his hands this way . . . He’s now out of bounds in the end zone, which now created a touchback. So he didn’t survive the recovery and didn’t survive the ground during the recovery is what happened here.”
Despite losing the call, the Jets were able to get the ball twice more. Chandler Catanzaro hit a 28-yard field goal with 3:40 left, cutting the deficit to 24-17. But quarterback Josh McCown wasn’t able to move the Jets into the end zone for a final time as his fourth-and-16 pass from the New England 49 fell incomplete with 12 seconds left.
“I saw it like four times,” Seferian-Jenkins said of his fumble. “Just got to have better ball security. It comes down to me if I take care of the ball the way I’m supposed to and I don’t let it move, we don’t have this discussion.”
Said corner Buster Skrine: “Yeah, I watched it. I don’t know how somebody can fumble the ball with the ball still in their hands? How do you fumble and you caught the ball and you ran and you’re still holding on to the ball? So how do you fumble the ball when you get in the end zone?”
What confused the Jets was that the initial ruling was a touchdown.
Corrente explained that the official “had the player’s back to him when all this action occurred. So when the player came down with the football, all he saw was the ball over the goal line and that’s why he did not know the ball came loose.”
With Bob Glauber