The Patriots uncharacteristically had 11 penalties for 105 yards stepped off against them in Sunday’s win over the New York Jets.
FOXBORO – The usual suspects got plenty of television air time during the Patriots’ 27-13 win over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Tom Brady. Rob Gronkowski. Julian Edelman.
And then there was Shawn Hochuli.
The game’s referee got plenty of TV time as he signaled 20 penalties against the two teams, 12 against the Patriots, 11 of which were accepted by the Jets for a total of 105 yards.
The breakdown: seven penalties on the offense, two on the defense, three on special teams.
“Certainly you can’t continue to live that way,” Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater said Monday. “If we continue with that trend it’s going to come back to bite us at some point. Fortunately, it didn’t cost us (Sunday), but if we keep that up it’s going to be an issue for us.
The flurry of flags was unPatriotic, uncharacteristic of a team that began the day averaging 4.7 penalties and 36.4 penalty yards per game through its first 10.
On the other hand, the performance was consistent for Hochuli’s crew, which began the day leading the league in penalties per game and seemed intent on maintaining its pacesetting rate.
“If this was game six of having that many penalties I think I’d be more concerned,” center David Andrews, also a team captain, said.” At times I think it’s kind of an anomaly. I thought we played pretty clean across the offensive line front for most of the year. We haven’t really done that to hurt ourselves. So I think it’s more of an anomaly, but it’s one of those things that you can’t just wash it aside.
“It’s a point we have to address and we have to be better. They were calling the game close and it’s just something we have to do a better job of.”
After further review (a look at the game film), head coach Bill Belichick said he believe the bulk of the calls were warranted.
“I think Shawn’s crew has, we had them against the Colts (the Patriots’ 38-24 win over Indianapolis at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 4), but I think looking at the game I’d say that most all the calls I would agree with,” said Belichick. “I saw what they saw and probably would have called some of the same things that they called.”
The problems, Belichick said, were self-inflicted.
“I think most of those penalties, really both on them and us, on our side of it – I’m not worried about the Jets, but on our side of it – we’ve just got to do a better job with our fundamentals and techniques and continue to emphasize as coaching points of being in good football positions, doing things the right way so we’re not susceptible to being called on those penalties,” he said. “I would say with very few exceptions in the game I didn’t really have an issue with any of the calls. I thought they were good calls and we have to do a better job of coaching and executing our techniques so that we’re not creating an infraction.”
One call in particular, a roughing the passer penalty on defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr., proved costly, allowing the Jets to convert a third-and-seven on the first-quarter drive that resulted in their one touchdown of the day, a 16-yard pass from Josh McCown to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
Ironically, a call a short time later, an offensive pass interference call against running back James White, benefitted them when, rather than declining the penalty and taking the play (a Tom Brady pass deep down the right sideline for wide receiver Julian Edelman) putting the Patriots in a fourth-and-two situation at the Jets 24, head coach Todd Bowles accepted it, the second shot at third down allowing the quarterback to find tight end Rob Gronkowski with a game-tying strike down the middle from 34 yards away.
One day later, Belichick said he wasn’t absolutely certain how he’d have approached the situation – if he’d have sent Stephen Gostkowski out to attempt what would have been a 42-yard field goal or try to convert on fourth-and-two – had the Jets declined the penalty.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Probably at that point we’d have kicked a field goal, but fourth-and-short, that’s always a consideration to go for it there. I don’t know. It happened pretty quickly. As soon as the flag was thrown I saw Todd pointing and signaling that they were going to accept the penalty. He wanted to take us back and it would have put us to, I don’t know, a 53-yard field goal or something like that.
“I could see why he did that. So as soon as he did it that put us into third-and-long mode so I wasn’t really thinking about what fourth-and-short would have been.”