Josh Allen’s unprecedented TD pass vs. the Patriots had a precedent vs. the Patriots

Josh Allen’s unbelievable touchdown pass against the Patriots looked a lot like another unbelievable touchdown pass against the Patriots.

With 5:27 left in the first half of the Buffalo Bills’ Thursday night game against the New England Patriots, Josh Allen made one of those throws. You know, the ones only he and Patrick Mahomes can make these days. The eight-yard touchdown pass to receiver Gabe Davis was one of the most compelling of the 2022 NFL season. Allen rolled to his right, nearly went out of bounds, evaded linebacker Mack Wilson, and somehow corked one across his body where only Davis could come up with it.

How rare was this throw? Pretty darned.

But since we’re talking about Josh Allen, it wasn’t the first time he’d made this kind of throw with similar success… against a very similar opponent. Let’s roll back to the 2021 wild-card playoffs, and Buffalo’s 47-17 win on Saturday, January 15. With 9:45 left in the first quarter, Allen rolled to his right, nearly went out of bounds, evaded linebacker Kyle Van Noy, and somehow corked one across his body where only tight end Dawson Knox could come up with it

Interestingly enough, both of these throws resulted in eight-yard touchdowns.

So, just when you think Josh Allen has shown you something you’ve never seen before, it turns out that you might be watching a repeat performance.

Mac Jones to Marcus Jones burns Bills for 48-yard TD

Mac Jones hits Marcus Jones for a New England touchdown

Marcus Jones is giving the New England Patriots a dimension: speed.

The rookie from Houston, whose punt return for a touchdown rocked the New York Jets, made his first appearance on the field as an offensive player for the Patriots on Thursday against the Buffalo Bills.

He wound up in the end zone, again.

Mac Jones faked a handoff to Rhamondre Stevenson and whipped a pass to Jones.

He knew what to do with it once he caught it, racing 48 yards to paydirt.

The Patriots led 7-3 after the PAT.

He played some receiver in his senior year as a Cougar. He caught 10 passes for 109 yards and one TD with Houston last year.

In 2018 at Troy, Jones had 5 grabs for 28 yards.

 

 

Robert Kraft arranged for Virginia to attend slain players’ services via Patriots plane

Robert Kraft with a great gesture to the University of Virginia after 3 football players were slain

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft showed great compassion and generosity when it came to the University of Virginia and its football team.

According to a team spokesperson, Kraft did cover the costs of the Patriots charter plane for the Cavaliers team and staff so they could attend the funerals of the three players killed on campus two weeks ago.

The three Cavaliers football players shot and killed were junior receiver Lavel Davis Jr. of Dorchester, South Carolina; junior receiverĀ Devin ChandlerĀ of Huntersville, North Carolina; and junior defensive end/linebackerĀ Dā€™Sean PerryĀ of Miami.

Over the weekend, one of the two Patriots team planes was spotted in Virginia and then in Florida, where services were held for Perry.

The Patriots have a primary plane and a secondary one in their colors. The secondary plane is available for charter.

In this case, the costs were covered by Kraft in a wonderful gesture.

Per NBCSports.com Boston:

New England’s team planes haveĀ served several other uses, as well: A Patriots planeĀ transported 76 “healthcare heroes”Ā from New England to this year’s Super Bowl in February, while the “AirKraft” (named for team owner Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft) famouslyĀ transported 1.2 million N95 masksĀ from China to Massachusetts last spring to support COVID relief efforts.

 

Cyber Monday NFL deals: Best sales for fans of each team

Save big on the perfect gift for any football fan this holiday season.

Happy holidays, football fans!

Whether you’re dreaming of the Super Bowl or planning ahead for next season, Touchdown Wire is here to give you something to cheer about this holiday season.

Fanatics is offering 30% off your entire order with the code “BOLT”. Act now, this deal is only available on Monday, Nov. 28.

Whether your favorite football fan would love a jersey, hat, sweatshirt or a decoration for the man cave, check out the individual team lists below.

We occasionally recommend interesting products and services. If you make a purchase by clicking one of the links, we may earn an affiliate fee. Touchdown Wire operates independently, though, and this doesnā€™t influence our coverage.

Patriots team plane takes University of Virginia athletes, staff to services for slain players

The New England Patriots have been generous in the past by allowing their team plane to be used by places and teams in need. The latest example is ongoing as the AFC East team has allowed its team plane to be used by the University of Virginia so …

The New England Patriots have been generous in the past by allowing their team plane to be used by places and teams in need.

The latest example is ongoing as the AFC East team has allowed its team plane to be used by the University of Virginia so the Cavaliers’ staff and players can attend the funerals of the three players who were killed in a tragic incident after returning from a school trip earlier this month.

The three Cavaliers football players shot and killed were junior receiver Lavel Davis Jr. of Dorchester, South Carolina; junior receiverĀ Devin ChandlerĀ of Huntersville, North Carolina; and junior defensive end/linebackerĀ D’Sean PerryĀ of Miami.

Per ESPN.com:

The entireĀ VirginiaĀ football team will attend the funeral service forĀ D’Sean PerryĀ on Saturday in Miami, the first of three funerals for their deceased teammates.

The team will also be at the memorial service forĀ Devin ChandlerĀ on Sunday in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and the celebration of life service forĀ Lavel Davis Jr. on Wednesday in North Charleston, South Carolina. Perry, Chandler, and Davis were shot and killed on a charter bus Nov. 13 after returning home from a class trip. Running back Mike HollinsĀ and a fifth student, Marlee Morgan, were also shot, but survived.

A spokesperson for the Patriots told Touchdownwire.com that team owner Robert Kraft did handle the cost for UVA to use the plane for the trips to the players’ services and funerals.

There is a UVA connection between the Cavaliers and the Patriots. Former Patriots star Chris Slade is the current defensive ends coach for the Cavaliers.

Per Virginiasports.com:

Slade was a second-round draft pick (31st overall selection) by the New England Patriots in 1993. During his eight years (1993-2000) with the team, he was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team and was a three-time defensive player of the year.

He served as a team captain and was recognized as a Pro Bowl selection and All-Pro after the 1997 season. Slade was named to the Patriotsā€™ 1990s All-Decade Team.

He played his final professional season (2001) as a Carolina Panther.

During his nine-year professional career, he appeared in a total of 142 games, totaling 664 tackles including 53.5 sacks and an additional 16 tackles for loss. He was a member of the Patriots team that played in Super Bowl XXXI.

‘Surviving the ground’ — How the NFL confused the Hunter Henry non-catch call

The Patriots were robbed of a touchdown against the Vikings because the NFL forgot about a 2018 rule change regarding what a catch is.

At the 2018 NFL league meetings, NFL owners and executives decided to make the rules pertaining to what is and what is not a catch more simple and less subjective. So, they voted to make the part of the rule defining a catch having to do with “surviving the ground.”

What does that mean? It means that since 2018, any receiver who caught the ball and maintained control to the ground while having two feet or another body part in bounds, and making a football move, had possession of the ball. No longer did the ball have to be in the player’s possession after the ball hit the ground for it to be a catch.

In a press conference following the unanimous vote, then-NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron brought up several plays that would be ruled completions under the new guidelines. These included legendary non-catches by Calvin Johnson and Dez “I caught it!” Bryant.

So why, with 6:50 left in the New England Patriots’ 33-26 Thanksgiving evening loss to the Minnesota Vikings, was Patriots tight end Hunter Henry’s touchdown catch ruled a non-catch upon review by Alex Kemp’s crew? This was a ruling for a touchdown that was reversed, so you’d think there’d be absolute evidence that it wasn’t a touchdown.

The tape does not provide that evidence.

It certainly looked as if Henry maintained control of the ball with his hand to the ground.

“I don’t know,” Henry said after the game. “They called what they called. I believe I caught it, but they made the call and we have to live with it.

“They said it hit the ground, but my hand was under it. My hand was under it even after it hit the ground. But they made the call. That’s it.”

Kemp was not made available to the media after the game, via pool reporter Mike Reiss of ESPN, but NFL VP of officiating Walt Anderson was, and here’s what he said.

Question: What did you see to determine New Englandā€™s Hunter Henry didnā€™t maintain control?

Anderson: ā€œHe was going to the ground, the ball ended up touching the ground and then he lost control of the ball in his hands.ā€

Question: Can you explain why he wasnā€™t granted possession before the ball hit the ground?

Anderson: ā€œBecause as heā€™s going to the ground, he has to maintain control of the ball upon contacting the ground. The term thatā€™s commonly used is ā€˜surviving the groundā€™ ā€“ a lot of people refer to that. So, as heā€™s going to the ground, he has the elements of two feet and control, but because heā€™s going to the ground, he has to maintain control of the ball when he does go to the ground.ā€

Question: He has two hands on it. How much is that factored into this decision, that he had two hands on the ball?

Anderson: ā€œWell, if he had maintained control of the ball with two hands, even if the ball were to touch the ground, if you donā€™t lose control of the ball after it touches the ground, that would still be a catch.ā€

Question: Is there anything else that I didnā€™t ask that is important to add to this discussion?

Anderson: ā€œNo, weā€™ve pretty much covered all the elements of the catch that are required to make it complete.ā€

Unfortunately, the question about the modification to the catch rule wasn’t asked. Not that it would have changed the result of the game, but perhaps Anderson would have walked back the whole “surviving the ground” thing, since that hasn’t been part of the NFL rule book since the 2017 season.

If the VP of Officiating doesn’t understand that rule change, what hope do we have that the officials on the field will legislate the call correctly?

NBC Sports rules analyst and former NFL referee Terry McAulay reached out to me with this clarification: “The rule change allowed for a player who controls and gets two feet or another body part down to then complete the catch by performing an act common to the game. That didnā€™t happen so when the ball hit the ground he had to maintain control. He did not.”

Now, that’s a different story. You can argue whether or not Henry maintained control (I still think he did), but we’re not talking about “surviving the ground” here. Anderson confused the issue when bringing that up.

For those interested, here’s the rule in full.

COMPLETED OR INTERCEPTED PASS

A player who makes a catch may advance the ball. A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense)Ā in the field of play, at the sideline, or in the end zoneĀ if a player, who is inbounds:

a. secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and

b. touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and

c. after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled,Ā performs any act common to the game (e.g., tuck the ball away, extend it forward, take an additional step, turn upfield, or avoid or ward off an opponent), or he maintains control of the ball long enough to do so.

Notes:

Movement of the ballĀ does not automatically result in loss of control.

If a player, who satisfied (a) and (b), but has not satisfied (c), contacts the ground and loses control of the ball, it is an incompleteĀ pass if the ball hits the ground before he regains control, or if he regains control out of bounds

A receiver is considered a player in a defenseless posture (SeeĀ 12-2-7) throughout the entire process of the catch and until the player is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent.

If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.

If a player, who is in possession of the ball, is held up and carried out of bounds by an opponent before both feet or any part of his body other than his hands touches the ground inbounds, it is a completed or intercepted pass. It is not necessary for the player to maintain control of the ball when he lands out of bounds.

ARTICLE 4. INCOMPLETE PASS

Any forward pass (legal or illegal) is incomplete and the ball is dead immediately if the pass strikes the ground or goes out of bounds. An incomplete pass is a loss of down, and the ball returns to the previous spot.

Note:Ā If there is any question whether a forward pass is complete, intercepted, or incomplete, it is to be ruled incomplete.

Bryant, who knows of what he speaks, was quite unamused.

Zach Wilson said he didn’t let the Jets’ defense down. Here’s why he’s wrong.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is the rogue factor that could keep him team out of the playoffs. Whether he thinks so or not.

In the 2021 season, the New York Jets had, by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metrics, the NFL’s worst defense. Through an outstanding draft and series of free agent moves, not to mention a dynamic coaching staff led by head coach Robert Saleh, that same Jets franchise came into Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots ranked sixth in Defensive DVOA this year.

That ranking will probably go up after what happened in the Patriots game. The Jets’ defense limited New England to three offensive points. The Patriots had five three-and-out drives, and quarterback Mac Jones was sacked six times, with eight quarterback hits.

But with all that, the Jets lost the game, 10-3. Why? Because the offense, led by quarterback Zach Wilson, was historically awful. The Jets punted 10 times in this game, and Wilson had just nine completions on 22 attempts for 77 yards. Anytime you punt more times than your quarterback has completions, that is a very bad sign. On the tenth punt, with five seconds left in the game, rookie cornerback Marcus Jones returned it 84 yards for the game’s only touchdown.

After the game, Wilson was asked if he had let his defense down.

The defense may see things differently, though they might not come right out and say it.

“It was really a do-our-job type of mentality,” linebacker Quincy Williams said after the game. “For the defense, it was the coverage and the rush working together. We came out with a lot of sacks, we were playing violent and everybody was rushing to the ball.”

Saleh wanted to make sure everybody knew where the problems weren’t.

“I thought the defense was outstanding,” he said. “I thought our D-line got after it. We had some missed tackles in the first half, but the sequence where we had the penalty, then the sack to make it a hard field goal at the end of the half, I thought that was really, really good by the defense. But then we just couldn’t capitalize on their good play.”

Wilson’s issues were not limited to this game. Not by a long shot. Through the first 10 weeks of the 2022 season, per Pro Football Focus, only Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Kenny Pickett had a lower passer rating (68.8) than Wilson’s 75.5. Wilson’s passer rating under pressure coming into Sunday’s game was 6.6 — by far the NFL’s worst, as Mac Jones ranked second at 27.2. When pressured this season, Wilson had completed 11 of 52 passes for 158 yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions. Wilson’s completion rate under pressure of 21.2% under pressure is also by far the NFL’s worst — Steelers backup Mitch Trubisky ranks second at 34.4. Wilson’s yards per attempt of 3.0 under pressure? Also the NFL’s worst by far; Trubisky ranks second at 3.6.

Want more? Wilson is one of the NFL’s worst deep passers. Coming into this game, he had completed four of 16 passes of 20 or more air yards for 195 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. Only Pickett (19.9) and Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals (24.9) had a worse passer rating on deep balls than Wilson’s 38.3.

There is nothing that Wilson does at even a league-average level, and that’s quite an indictment for a quarterback selected second overall in the 2021 draft, and who has started 20 career games.

“We’re all hurting,” linebacker and defensive captain C.J. Mosley said after the Patriots game. “We felt like we played a hell of a game. It’s tough to take a loss like that. But we’ve got seven games to go, there’s still a lot of football left and a lot of ways to get better as a team. We’ve just got to keep moving forward.”

When it came to the offense, Saleh didn’t mince any words.

Saleh hasn’t fully committed to pulling Wilson in favor of somebody else; that may have more to do with who’s defined as “anybody else” on the current roster (Hello, Joe Flacco and Mike White) than any true belief in Wilson’s ultimate potential.

That said, the oxygen is running thin. With this loss, the Jets are at the bottom of the AFC West at 6-4, looking up at the 6-4 Patriots, the 7-3 Buffalo Bills, and the 7-3 Miami Dolphins. No matter how great that defense is, it simply can’t transcend an offense that can’t function.

And right now, the Jets’ second-year quarterback is the problem that could keep this team out of the playoffs. Whether he thinks so or not.

Every player with a passing TD, rushing TD, and receiving TD in the same game

With Christian McCaffrey’s triple-crown day, there are 11 players pro football history to throw, run, and catch a touchdown in the same game. Here they all are.

On Sunday, San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey did something that hasn’t been done in pro football in 17 years. McCaffrey threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Aiyuk with 12:10 left in the first half.

Then, with 1:51 left in the third quarter, McCaffrey extended his short route as Jimmy Garoppolo rolled around to avoid pressure, coming up with this great nine-yard touchdown catch.

And THEN, with 12:07 left in the game, McCaffrey bashed it in for this one-yard touchdown run.

It’s been since 2005 since any player has touchdowns in all three ways in a single game, and only 11 players have done it in pro football history. Who else has pulled off this impressive feat?

Bill Belichick moves into 2nd place with 325th win as a head coach

Bill Belichick picks up his 325th victory as a head coach to pass George Halas

The Chicago Bears made sure Bill Belichick didn’t move past their legendary coach George Halas on the all-time NFL wins list for coaches, including playoffs, by downing his New England Patriots on Monday.

The New York Jets were unable to deter their former, um, coach, from moving into second behind Don Shula on Sunday.

The New England Patriots got 5 field goals from Nick Folk and a strong defensive performance as they downed the Jets, 22-10, at MetLife Field.

Shula had 347 wins in his career. Belichick now has 325. Halas had 324.

The victory was also Belichick’s 100th in the regular season against AFC East opponents as coach of the Patriots. He has now beaten the Jets 13 straight times.

Belichick passed Shula for the second-most regular-season victories by a head coach with one team. Belichick now has 258 regular-season wins with the Patriots, one better than Shula’s total with the Miami Dolphins. Halas holds that record with 318.

Ā 

 

Roughing the passer penalties reverse interceptions for Mac Jones, Justin Fields

Mac Jones and Justin Fields had interceptions wiped out by roughing the passer penalties, which is the way the NFL wants it.

We already know that the NFL will call roughing the passer whether it is or is not, actually, roughing the passer. NFL EVP of Football Operations Troy Vincent recently said as much after controversial roughing calls against Chris Jones of the Chiefs and Grady Jarrett of the Faocons.

“We support those calls,” Vincent said during an October 16 appearance on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown.Ā “Why? Because in Article 11 [of the rulebook], this is the one rule ā€“ and we have a ton of rules ā€“ where the judgment you give the referee, that white hat, is the latitude to call that play in real time. If that’s what both Carl and Jerome in those two particular games, if that’s what they saw, the rule allows us to say yes to support it.”

Vincent also said that quarterbacks drive ratings, and that’s why the NFL is going to protect the quarterback. With that, the NFL finally said the quiet part out loud.

There is also a codicil in the NFL Rule Book which states that “When in doubt about a roughness call or potentially dangerous tactic against the passer, the Referee should always call roughing the passer.”

On Sunday, two beleaguered quarterbacks were bailed out of horrible interceptions by specious roughing the passer calls.

First, there was Mac Jones of the Patriots, who saw this pick-six by Jets cornerback Michael Carter called back after a highly suspicious roughing call on defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers.

And then, soon after, Bears quarterback Justin Fields was saved on this Trevon Diggs interception after defensive end Chauncey Golston.

Whether these actions actually constitute roughing the passer is irrelevant. The NFL has said outright that it will use this infraction to edge things in the quarterback’s direction at all times, so these outcomes are ideal for the league. It’s also why there’s no point in making roughing the passer a reviewable call, because the league is going to tell the officials that any roughing the passer call is the right call.