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NFL calls official moving Hightower “standard procedure”

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To some Jets fans, it looked like an effort to help Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower avoid a penalty.  To the league office, it looked like something that happens all the time.

The NFL explains that an official’s redirection of Hightower, who was creeping toward an illegal spot in front of the snapper on a would-be game-winning 58-yard field goal try, is something that happens often.

“It is a standard officiating procedure that occurs regularly,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said by email.  “In fact, it is on [NFL V.P. of officiating] Dean Blandino’s video that went to the teams yesterday and will be on the version of it that goes to the media today.”

McCarthy explained that officials intervene not to keep teams from giving up field position, but to keep players from getting hurt.

“That rule was adopted for player safety purposes, another good reason to help avoid violations in advance,” McCarthy said.

Even if the official hadn’t redirected Hightower, chances are he would have jumped back out when the linemen shifted to a position just outside each shoulder of the snapper.  Still, there’s a way the dominoes could have fallen that would have resulted in the Jets getting five more yards, putting the attempt at 53 yards instead of 58.

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60 Responses to “NFL calls official moving Hightower “standard procedure””
  1. weepingjebus says: Oct 17, 2014 9:33 AM

    It is. I’d stick with a fake scandal that has legs, like trying to change the name of an 80 year old NFL franchise for some reason.

  2. neutronjimmy123 says: Oct 17, 2014 9:37 AM

    Once again. This is NOT why the Jets lost. Not having a no. 1 WR threat to score touchdowns in the redzone is why they lost along with no secondary on defense side of the ball.

  3. hairpie2 says: Oct 17, 2014 9:37 AM

    Haters aren’t gonna like this any more that trying to explain the benefit of taping something in plain view of 70K people.

  4. SparkyGump says: Oct 17, 2014 9:38 AM

    Yea, right.

  5. trevor190 says: Oct 17, 2014 9:38 AM

    Nobody ever loses fairly any more.

  6. longdrive2011 says: Oct 17, 2014 9:40 AM

    So explain why the refs didn’t help the Colts avoid this penalty last week. It cost the Colts a TD versus a field goal. Consistency is all fans ask for.

  7. MO/JO says: Oct 17, 2014 9:40 AM

    So why didn’t they move the Colts player against Houston last week? Instead of moving him, they flagged him.

  8. killxswitch says: Oct 17, 2014 9:41 AM

    If they do that, then why is it a penalty? Why not just move players out of that spot pre-snap? The Colts were called for that last Thursday night, why didn’t a ref move the guy that was lined up too close to the center?

  9. patriots123456 says: Oct 17, 2014 9:42 AM

    Can’t wait for the haters to claim…


  10. chris6523 says: Oct 17, 2014 9:47 AM

    If you are looking for consistency out of NFL refs, don’t hold your breath.

  11. sean987 says: Oct 17, 2014 9:50 AM

    Oh come on. Like Folk was gonna make a 53yd FG…

  12. bostonian13 says: Oct 17, 2014 9:51 AM

    Would YA complain if they moved a Jets player and a Pats field goal had been blocked? I think not.

  13. pardontheerruption says: Oct 17, 2014 9:51 AM

    Pssst, hey Demarcus Ware – the snap count is 3, don’t jump early – Edward Hochuli

  14. qdog112 says: Oct 17, 2014 9:51 AM

    “Even if the official hadn’t redirected Hightower, chances are he would have jumped back out when the linemen shifted to a position just outside each shoulder of the snapper. ”
    Really? Chances are he would have moved? Does that mean there was a chance he would not? That is one crazy explanation for what should never have taken place.

  15. buddysguys says: Oct 17, 2014 9:53 AM

    that kick was turribly low anyways and would have been no good.

  16. lflib69 says: Oct 17, 2014 9:53 AM

    So why didn’t they move the Colts player against Houston last week? Instead of moving him, they flagged him.

    Because just maybe the Colts Player was already to far up and thus the penalty? Hightower was still in his correct spot..there is no way to say he would have gone up to the point where it was a penalty.

  17. stealthjunk says: Oct 17, 2014 9:55 AM

    So this is the only example of it they have to send around the league even though it is supposedly “standard procedure”? Count me as a skeptic.

  18. catquick says: Oct 17, 2014 9:55 AM

    Anything to get the Patriots the win. I wonder how good they’d be if they had to play by the same rules their opponents have to play by?

  19. truthfactory says: Oct 17, 2014 9:56 AM

    Anyone with the slightest bit of common sense understands that Hightower would have shifted with the rest of the line to a legal position but I guess that explains why Jets fans are still complaining.

    Then it should be up to them to do so. No reason for the refs to bail them out and 100% make sure they line up in a legal formation.

    If the refs are supposed to do this, then why would this ever be called a penalty? In theory, everytime a player lines up there, a ref should have moved him and a penalty would never be called.

    Instead, this penalty HAS been called because other refs DID NOT notify the player. Why did the pats get the benefit of being given a heads up, yet other teams are left out there to line up illegally and get the penalty called on them??

  20. ubepunkedagain says: Oct 17, 2014 9:57 AM

    That is good to know. I fully expect that there will never be a game decided by an illegal defensive formation ever. I fully expect the official to move a player to save a penalty no matter what team it is.

  21. renbutler says: Oct 17, 2014 10:00 AM

    The Colts’ Zach Kerr was flagged in the Baltimore game for being in the exact same position as Hightower — and no official tried to move him.

    I guess it’s not as “standard” as they suggest…

  22. brazzz01 says: Oct 17, 2014 10:03 AM

    Of course. Pats can’t even beat the Jets without cheating from the refs. I couldn’t sleep last night… just so outraged that the cheating continues and people actually think Brady is good.

    Bud Selig needs to fold this team immediately.

  23. toybkshr says: Oct 17, 2014 10:04 AM

    The Jests got their FG Mulligan last yr., these things don’t always go “one way”!

  24. thegronk87 says: Oct 17, 2014 10:09 AM

    No symphathy for the jets. The refs helpd them in last year’s pats-jets game when they called a penalty on chris jones on the GW field goal, but did NOT make the same call on the jets when they did the same thing just minutes earlier on the pats field goal attempt.

  25. pftcensor1 says: Oct 17, 2014 10:09 AM

    NFL officials have recently come out and admitted they have biases and that those biases adversely affect their ability to call a fair game (for example see Mike Carey).

    We should not be expecting consistency, fairness, etc. from a group of officials that have admitted they are flawed.

  26. phinagain says: Oct 17, 2014 10:09 AM

    Even if the field goal attempt was 5 yards closer, it doesn’t erase two wasted opportunities inside the 10 yard line. Through the first half the Yets had 12 points on 4 field goals. If even one of those makes it into the end zone instead, you win that game. Don’t be so myopic.

  27. dansardo says: Oct 17, 2014 10:10 AM

    So the jets got the benefit of just about every marginal to bad call in the game and that was not enough so now we have this?

  28. 6ball says: Oct 17, 2014 10:10 AM

    The Jets lost the game when Rex decided to go for the onside kick with 2:36 left and 1 timeout. There was plenty of time to kick it deep and make the Patriots fight their way out.

  29. ampatsisahypocrite says: Oct 17, 2014 10:12 AM

    Uh, anyone here able to point out a specific example of another player being moved like this by the ref? Like someone else pointed out, Kerr from the Colts got flagged for doing what Hightower did, not moved by the ref to avoid a penalty.

    Thing is, this is just another in a long line of “it’s just standard procedure” ploys used to help the New England Patriots. Just like it’s “standard procedure” to erase tapes.

  30. bradygirl12 says: Oct 17, 2014 10:17 AM

    The Jets didn’t lose because of the blocked field goal, or any perceived slight by the officials. They had plenty of chances to tie or take the lead and they didn’t do it. Neither team played well,but the “W” is all that counts.

  31. Zac F. says: Oct 17, 2014 10:23 AM

    Seems pretty straightforward to me. The concept of the game is to, you know, play the game. If it’s easy to avoid a flag before it happens, you avoid interruption of the game. It’s good for players and it’s good for fans watching the game.

    Besides, even though “a win is a win,” wins and losses that are achieved by penalty are pretty much the worst-case scenarios. Nobody really feels good when a game ends that way.

  32. ncphinsfan says: Oct 17, 2014 10:25 AM

    It is going to take an (unbiased; I wanted both teams to lose) Dolphins Fan to mediate this dispute… The Refs almost always tell the players they violate position in the case of player safety. I see no controversy here. The Jets played well, but missed many opportunities. The Onside Kick was just plain stupid when rhe Defense was doing fine. This does point out what most NFL fans say-that the Patriots are not that good; as they barely beat one of the so-called worst teams in the game.

  33. billyz77 says: Oct 17, 2014 10:27 AM

    The Jets fan can’t sleep because his team didn’t get help from the refs? HA! Remember Vinny down on the one yard line and still being given a touchdown? No problems sleeping that night. Didn’t that Jet-aided victory cost one team a playoff spot and Dennis Erickson his job? Yeah, tell me all about how bad the league hates the Jets.

  34. steelnucs says: Oct 17, 2014 10:27 AM

    Love the accompanying picture…”Whaaaa?”

    About sums up NFL officiating this year.

  35. bullcharger says: Oct 17, 2014 10:32 AM

    This is the dumbest thing ever. Since he wasn’t in an illegal formation when the play started it doesn’t matter.

  36. proudchowdahead13 says: Oct 17, 2014 10:32 AM

    Karma is a beatch

  37. terripet says: Oct 17, 2014 10:33 AM

    Hard to beat the Pats at home with the refs in Kraft’s back pocket.

  38. impulse22 says: Oct 17, 2014 10:44 AM

    Playing football and watching football most of my life, this happens all the time. Ad i think he was lined up there to confuse the line anyway notice how the whole defense shifted before the snap. Looks like he was already shifting out of the spot and the tapped him.
    If people say this never happens they never paid attention or played on punt/fg team

  39. keylimelight says: Oct 17, 2014 10:48 AM

    I am in agreement with those who are pointing out that if this is “Standard Procedure” then why:

    1) weren’t the Colts moved into proper position. They were penalized for this in their last game,

    2) is this formation even a penalty to begin with?
    Definition: stand·ard ˈstandərd/

    used or accepted as normal or average.
    We don’t see this “normally” done. These inconsistencies in officiating is what gives people a sense that “the fix is in”. Fixed games signal the decline of any sport.

  40. realityonetwo says: Oct 17, 2014 10:50 AM

    The Jets lost because they stink like rotting cabbage.

  41. hairpie2 says: Oct 17, 2014 10:50 AM

    The league also turned away when they Jets were caught taping the Patriots in Foxboro during the 2006 playoffs, and we know what happened first game of 07. Be careful what you wish for Jets fans.

  42. pjflynn84 says: Oct 17, 2014 10:54 AM

    Sanchise would have hit Jace Amaro for that two point conversion.

  43. PFT's Most Deleted Commenter says: Oct 17, 2014 10:55 AM

    Working for Commissioner Kraft, as always…

  44. haleyistheman00 says: Oct 17, 2014 10:57 AM

    I really hope jet fans don’t think that cost them the game. If you pay attention you’ll see that happen once a game.

  45. kerzondax says: Oct 17, 2014 11:00 AM

    I officiated NCAA men’s bball for years. We ALWAYS would do this. “get out of the lane, keep your hands off him”. The theory was that it made for a better game if you gave the occasional warning before a “foul became a foul”.

    I like this approach. It cuts down on penalties more than you’d think.

  46. goawayeverybody says: Oct 17, 2014 11:00 AM

    I have noticed for years that it’s standard procedure for the refs to bail out the Patriots whenever possible.

  47. ubepunkedagain says: Oct 17, 2014 11:00 AM

    So when they don’t move him and a penalty is called they are deviating from standard procedure? Will the NFL come out and say they messed up or reprimand the official for not moving the guy? How about the team that has the penalty called on them and subsequently loses the game, what is the recourse now that they deviated from standard procedure of moving the guy to avoid a penalty?

  48. brohamma says: Oct 17, 2014 11:03 AM

    The Jets did almost everything right. Time of possession, yardage and zero turnovers.. still they lost. This one really hurts them and now it’s time to find some excuse that “the world is against us.”

    Rodney Harrison is exactly right; at some point you can’t keep on saying this has to do with “talent” on the field and you have to look at the coaches ability to prepare the team.

  49. rcosborne59 says: Oct 17, 2014 11:14 AM

    Perhaps if the Jets had managed their timeouts better they would have had time to get closer. I am a PATS fan and the Jets played a good game.
    Geno Smith played mistake free ball and had a good game and they ran wild on PATS. The JETS defense did a adequate job but Brady just made the plays he had to make. Another close but no cigar loss for the J E T S.

  50. coldwater32301 says: Oct 17, 2014 11:16 AM

    If you pay attention the refs always are in favor of Brady and the Patriots… Almost every 2 min situation they get a call in their favor… Pay attention…Indeed….

  51. boltzrulz says: Oct 17, 2014 11:17 AM

    Ryan took what was a pretty solid game from Smith and turned a potential win into a loss with some poor decisions last night–namely burning TOs early in the 2nd half and the onside kick.

    Smith should have made that pass for the 2-point conversion and a veteran would have, but I can’t fault a rookie for that. Smith did everything he could to win, but his coach failed him.

  52. gixxerguy562 says: Oct 17, 2014 11:22 AM

    OK there’s going to be bad calls in every game every week, what about the bad calls on Browner and Revis, I believe both were 3rd and long and ended up being 1st downs

  53. trevor190 says: Oct 17, 2014 11:29 AM

    Refs are so biased in New England’s favor that they currently lead the league in penalties, in penalty yards, and have the biggest disparity between penalties against them vs penalties called against opponent.

    Oh, and they had more penalties called against them than the Jets did.

  54. deacon85 says: Oct 17, 2014 11:41 AM

    I know I shouldn’t contribute to a feeding frenzy, but could one of the people who insist that this is an example of how the Patriots always get favorable calls from the refs please explain why they got penalized last year against the Jets on a field goal kick that ultimately cost them the game. That was an almost unheard-of penalty. So how does that happen, if the refs always tilt the calls in favor of the Patriots? (I don’t why I ask this, it’s not like I’m going to change their minds; but I am curious as to just how do you explain that??)

  55. dawgzzxx says: Oct 17, 2014 11:43 AM

    When the Browns played the Titans the QB spiked the ball after making a first down and guess what…NO PENALTY CALLED. How the REFS missed that is any bodys guess.
    Since then I have seen three penalties called for spiking the ball after a play.

  56. bstngrdn says: Oct 17, 2014 12:46 PM

    Wow short memories! How about the game the Jets stole last year on a call the refs made never seen before or since?
    The Jets are just one of the worst teams in the league with a clown for a coach and owned by a dysfunctional organization. Teams like this find ways to lose.

  57. mancave001 says: Oct 17, 2014 1:58 PM

    killxswitch says:
    Oct 17, 2014 9:41 AM
    If they do that, then why is it a penalty? Why not just move players out of that spot pre-snap? The Colts were called for that last Thursday night, why didn’t a ref move the guy that was lined up too close to the center?


    Exactly. I’m pretty the Eagles got called for it last week. And the player didn’t even look like he was lined up over center. It can’t be preemptive for some teams and a penalty for others.

  58. clelek05 says: Oct 17, 2014 2:37 PM

    trevor190 says:

    Refs are so biased in New England’s favor that they currently lead the league in penalties, in penalty yards, and have the biggest disparity between penalties against them vs penalties called against opponent.

    Oh, and they had more penalties called against them than the Jets did.


    Thank you!

  59. sam22ceh says: Oct 17, 2014 3:33 PM

    Thats such crap, thats like a line judge telling a guy he’s lining up offsides or the offense doesn’t have enough players on the line of scrimmage, the nil is a joke period !!!!!!!!! I’m not a fan of either team but thats a load of you know what !!!!!!

  60. jetsnut4life says: Oct 17, 2014 4:06 PM

    Why don’t the refs make the teams wait to snap before all players are off the field….for player safety of course…what if the jets snapped the ball while the ref moved in to tell Hightower. would have been destroyed by players causing possible Injury to himself and also the players for trying to accomplish player safety…

    Never fails…league has lame excuses..

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