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Jets-Patriots Referee Tony Corrente Says Overturning Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ Touchdown Was ‘Obvious’ Call

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New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

NFL referee Tony Corrente spoke with pool reporter Bob Glauber after today’s game between the Jets and the Patriots. He said the call to overturn Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ touchdown was ‘obvious.’

As you look at the play, the key thing to keep in mind is the call on the field was a touchdown. That means the officials did not have to prove definitively that the tight end actually scored a touchdown. It means they had to prove he definitively did not score a touchdown for the play to be ruled a touchback. I think that is a very tough sell.

The entire transcript of Corrente’s comments is below to take you through the officials’ thought process.

Can you just take me through the play as you saw it?

“The final shot that we saw was from the end zone that showed the New York Jets’ runner, we’ll call him a runner at that point, with the football starting to go toward the ground. He lost the ball. It came out of his control as he was almost to the ground. Now he re-grasps the ball and by rule, now he has to complete the process of a recovery which means he has to survive the ground again. So in recovering it, he recovered, hit the knee, started to roll and the ball came out a second time. So the ball started to move in his hands this way…he’s now out of bounds in the end zone, which now created a touchback. So he didn’t survive the recovery and didn’t survive the ground during the recovery is what happened here.”

So this had nothing to do with the catch itself?

“Nothing to do with the catch. It was all dealing with goal line and going to the ground.”

The initial ruling was a touchdown. Why was that?

“Because the position of the official involved had the player’s back to him when all this action occurred, so when the player came down with the football, all he saw was the ball over the goal line and that’s why he did not know the ball came loose. Had the ball not come loose and he had crossed the goal line and he had possession and started to roll on his back, that would have been the touchdown. But because he lost the ball on his way to the ground the first time and had to re-grasp, that means now it’s a loose ball. He has to have control and survive the ground in the process of the recovery or, as we say, the process of the catch. So that’s what that was about.”

Who made the initial call?

“Our down judge.”

How long was the discussion with New York on that review?

“Well, we went through two or three primary looks and then this other shot came up. When the other shot came up, it was just ‘boom, boom, boom.’ It was a pretty quick determination. It was pretty obvious.”

As far as you know, was the end zone shot shown on TV?

“I was with you in the stadium. It had to be, because that was the only shots we get is anything that’s shown on TV. We don’t get anything secret. I mean, there’s no secret shots. It has to be shown on TV. Unless, did we go to commercial break? We went to commercial break, so I can’t tell you whether it went on TV or not because the audience was away. The replays keep showing. As they say, they will empty the can. They will show us every replay they’ve got related to the situation and that’s what happened there.”

If Seferian-Jenkins as a runner touched the pylon first, it would be a touchdown?

“No. You’ve got to keep in mind, he doesn’t have possession of the football yet. When he lost the ball short of the goal line, when he lost the ball, he re-gained control but that doesn’t mean he possesses the ball. He doesn’t possess the ball until he’s completed going to the ground now and re-controlling the ball, which he did not survive the ground, which is why it wasn’t a touchdown. Had he never lost control of the ball in the first place, you would have a touchdown. But because he lost the ball and now has to re- establish control of the ball, that was the period of time.”

He began losing the ball before he got to the goal line?

“Before he got to the goal line, yes.”

And he didn’t re-establish control until he was out of bounds?

“He was out of bounds.”

Did you think he touched the pylon?

“At what point he touched the pylon, it was during the process of trying to recover the ball. Even though he may have had the ball in his hands the second time, that control does not mean possession until he comes to the ground and shows firm control of the ball at that point.”

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