EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Chris Jones simply did not know the rule, though he readily admits he should have.
The Patriots had forced the Jets into overtime after Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 44-yard field goal to tie the game 27-27. The Patriots’ defense had made another stop at mid-field, forcing the Jets to attempt a 56-yard field goal. On the attempt, Jones pushed Will Svitek into New York’s special teams backfield. The NFL instituted a new rule this season forbidding that action.
The tough part? Nick Folk missed the 56-yarder.
Rule 913 states: Team B players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into offensive formation. Jones got flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. When the referee threw the flag, Jones did not know what had happened. Folk kicked a much-easier 42-yard field goal to win the game.
“I was confused at first, didn’t know what was going on,” Jones said. “I figured out what it was and I was like, ‘Oh, well, my fault.’”
Jones has bounced around the NFL despite this being his rookie season. He was drafted in the sixth-round by the Texans, then got picked up off waivers by the Buccaneers and again by the Patriots. He’s found himself in a starting role with Vince Wilfork out for the season and Tommy Kelly sidelined.
Jones said he did not know about the rule, though NFL officials went around to each team this summer to explain them.
“No,” Jones said. “But I made that mistake, and I should have been more aware.
“It was something we talked about probably during camp. It skipped out of my mind. It was my mistake and nobody else’s. I just got to man up to it and fix it next time.”
Jones sat and talked to the media for over four minutes about the play. He took it like a man and answered every question honestly and thoughtfully.
Jones said he planned to push his teammate. It wasn’t part of the special teams game plan.
“Just trying to get that extra oomph to get up in there,” Jones said.
Prior to the overtime play, Jones had himself a solid game. He sacked Geno Smith twice and had 10 tackles and one run stop for a loss. Jones couldn’t enjoy it after the Patriots’ loss, though.
“A loss is a loss, anything before that — if it was a win it would be a lot better,” Jones said. “When you lose it takes everything away.
Hopefully this is just one minor blip in an otherwise promising career. Jones now has 3 1/2 sacks on the season — second most on the team, despite playing defensive tackle and despite suiting up for just four games.
Check out the penalty in the GIF below.