One of the most frustrating things about sports is that sometimes the outcome of the game isn’t in the hands of the players.
There has been a laundry list of important sporting events that have had their outcomes determined by the officials, either due to a missed or blown call, or in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ case, an inadvertent whistle.
The Jaguars had the New England Patriots on the ropes in last January’s AFC Championship Game, and executive president Tom Coughlin, along with many Jaguars, believe they were robbed of a Super Bowl berth by a whistle that should never have been blown.
With the Jaguars leading by 10 in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium, Patriots running back Dion Lewis caught a pass and sprinted 20 yards down the sideline before linebacker Myles Jack tracked him down and stripped him of the football. Jack recovered the ball and took off toward the other end zone for what likely would have been the final nail in the Patriots’ coffin.
But one of the officials blew the play dead, meaning that Jack was unable to advance the ball. The play was reviewed and upheld, giving the Jags the ball, but they promptly went three-and-out. The Patriots scored two touchdowns on their next three possessions to punch their ticket to Super Bowl LII.
Months later, Coughlin still is fuming about the whistle that cost the Jags seven points and a trip to Minneapolis. In a piece by Sports Illustrated’s Jacob Feldman, Coughlin revealed he called the league office shortly after the game to discuss the play, and they apologized and acknowledged the play shouldn’t have been blown dead.
Thump! Coughlin’s palms slam the table simultaneously. This isn’t emphasis—it’s pure frustration. You want to know what he thought about after the 24–20 loss in New England the next week? Really?
“The game—what else?! The fourth quarter. Up 10. Myles Jack’s [return of a fumble],” which was blown dead before the Jaguars linebacker could walk in for an easy touchdown. “I called the league office,” says Coughlin, “and went over this for a hundredth time. Let. The. Play. Go.” The coach transports himself back to that conversation, not long after the final whistle of the AFC title game. New York agreed, he says. The referee shouldn’t have called the play dead—he’s remorseful. “Oh really!?” Coughlin replies, then and now. “We’re just a little bit remorseful down here, too.”
What could have been for Jacksonville?
The Jags’ defense still is haunted by Tom Brady’s fourth-quarter comeback in the AFC Championship Game, as the quarterback’s third-and-18 completion to Danny Amendola still seeps into their players-only film sessions.
Jacksonville should be a force again this season and undoubtedly is chomping at the bit for another crack at the Pats in the postseason.
Thumbnail photo via Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports Images