The only positive about being on the injured reserve is that you can get away with calling out the NFL referees when they miss a clear and obvious flag.
The big story after the New York Jets Week 11 loss to the New England Patriots has been Zach Wilson and the possibility of a quarterback controversy next weekend, but another headline has flown way under the radar. Gang Green got robbed by the officials once again.
Injured offensive tackle Mekhi Becton took aim at the referees on Twitter after the heartbreaking conclusion, voicing: “Sooooo ain’t nobody see that blocking in the back??? 😂”
The tweet quickly went viral and the sad part for Jets fans is that Becton was later determined to be right, along with a good chunk of NYJ faithful.
NFL Rules Expert Backs Jets in Penalty Miss
The Jets may not have “deserved” to win according to some fans on social media but Fox Sports rules expert Dean Blandino revealed that they might not have deserved to lose either — at least not on the punt return that sealed it.
During the video clip with “The 33rd Team,” Blandino explained why the Patriots should have been called for a block in the back on gunner Justin Hardee. The NYJ special teams ace refused to give up on the play, chasing returner Marcus Jones all the way back to the 15-yard line.
“There was clear contact,” Blandino noted, “[but] the officials didn’t throw the flag.” Later, he froze the tape on a moment for the New England blocker shoved Hardee straight in the back, knocking him to the ground.
“It was close enough where you have to say it has an impact,” Blandino continued. “If the officials throw the flag, it’s a spot foul, the touchdown doesn’t count. It’s 10 yards from the spot — the spot was right about the 15, comes back to the 25 [yard line]. New England still has a chance to kick the field goal after the game but who knows how it plays out.”
On a very windy day at Foxboro, Patriots kicker Nick Folk had already missed two field goal tries from a similar distance (42-44 yards).
Heartbroken Justin Hardee Deserves Pro Bowl Nod
After the game, Hardee told reporters that he puts the loss on himself and that his efforts on the final punt were not up to his or the Jets’ standards. While these words are noble to the core, they could not have been further from the truth.
According to Pro Football Focus, Hardee is already responsible for 12 ST tackles on the season — the next highest on the Jets is three — and if you watch the games, you’d have no problem believing that absurd total. It feels like the special teams captain makes every tackle on punts and kickoffs in some games and Week 11 was one of those weeks with a team-leading two ST tackles.
Hardee admitted that the Pats were “triple-teaming” him all game but said that’s no excuse. He didn’t use the block in the back as a viable explanation for the final play either and admitted he was heartbroken over the result.
The veteran specialist is the definition of selfless and if any Jet deserves a Pro Bowl nod in 2022, it’s him. Hardee has never been voted to the NFL’s All-Star game, although you could argue that he’s been one of the most consistent special teamers in the sport over the past five years.
After struggling with penalties in 2021, Hardee’s second campaign with the Jets has been downright spectacular. In no way, shape or form was this loss on him.