Stop me if you’ve heard this before: an NFL team is on its way to a huge win when a goofy rule/blown call/dumb penalty costs said team the game. Always in the most infuriating way imaginable. Sounds familiar, right? Well, if it feels like we’re talking about asinine calls having an outside impact on who wins and loses every other week in the NFL, let me assure you, we are. This week’s disaster du jour befell the beyond terrible actually somewhat competitive Jets who, if we’re being honest, don’t need the league’s help in making their fans miserable.

In the play above Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins appears to score a touchdown that would bring the underdog Jets in range for a shocking upset against their archnemesis Patriots. Naturally that’s not what happened. The touchdown was reviewed, as all touchdowns are, and not only was the score taken off the board but the ball was also awarded to the Patriots.

Seriously, what? We’re going to need to watch that video again.

Okay, so as he’s approaching and/or crossing the goal line, Seferian-Jenkins clearly loses the ball. He also, just as clearly, comes up with it after completing the catch.1 It’s what happens in the middle that sent Jets fans into hysteria. Since the call on the field was a touchdown, in order to overturn the call, referee there needed to be definitive proof that Seferian-Jenkins did not have possession of the ball when he went out of bounds. Definitive proof is exactly what the league’s officials determined that they had. So the Jets’ touchdown was wiped from the scoreboard and the ball was given to the Patriots at the 25 yard line.

If you’re still confused, you’re not crazy. Again, this is the play in question:

The really insane thing is that the rationale for the official decision holds up to the logic of the NFL’s rules: Seferian-Jenkins had possession of the ball but once he fumbled it, he needed to fully reestablish possession for the play to count as a touchdown (two feet down and the whole nine yards). Of course when he recovers the ball he promptly falls out of bounds before reestablishing that possession and when an offensive player fumbles (as Seferian-Jenkins did) and the fumble goes out through the end zone (as it did) the result is a touchback for the defense. See? Totally logical.

The problem, as that absurd-yet-technically-”logical” explanation shows, is that the NFL’s logic is broken. The rule is dumb.

Aside from his center and quarterback, no one but Seferian-Jenkins had possession of the ball on that play. And while he did lose control of the ball for a moment, he certainly seemed to regain control of it before he landed out of bounds. If this whole series of events had been pushed one yard back, the Jets would have maintained possession at the one yard line. Only because this happened in the end zone did the Jets have to turn the ball over which is probably the stupidest part of this whole stupid affair.

Why does the NFL insist that the end zone be treated like some bizarro-world portion of the field where a catch isn’t a catch and a fumble out of bounds is a mandatory turnover? Why can’t the rules that govern the rest of the field also apply to this holiest of sections on the same damn field? Perhaps most importantly: why can’t Jets fans have nice things?

  1. That phrase really haunts a lot of fan bases, eh?

Brennan Quenneville is an editor and contributor at The Read Option. He can also be found at his blog and at Type In Stereo, where he is a contributor.

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