EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The latest installment of an NFL rule nobody quite understands occurred on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The part everyone is talking about occurred with 8:24 remaining in the fourth quarter when tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins appeared to score a touchdown that would have closed the Patriots' lead to 24-21 after the extra point.
The call on the field initially was a touchdown, but it was reversed because, as referee Tony Corrente explained, Seferian-Jenkins fumbled into the end zone out of bounds, which is a turnover. But let him explain further, as he did after the game.
"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 said to a pool reporter. "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 there."
Got all that?
Basically, if you try to recover your own fumble in the end zone, you have to complete the process of the recovery, just as you would have to complete a catch in the end zone, without letting the ball hit the ground or squirt away again.
Corrente added that the play was initially ruled a touchdown by down judge Patrick Turner because Seferian-Jenkins' back was to him "when all the action occurred."
"If I take care of the ball the way I'm supposed to and I don't let it move or anything like that, we don't have this discussion," said Seferian-Jenkins, who finished with eight catches for 46 yards and a touchdown that actually counted.
Added head coach Todd Bowles: "From my angle on replay, I didn't see the ball fumbled. I saw it bobbled and I saw him gain control of it."
Quarterback Josh McCown called the play "frustrating" but the 38-year-old, who has seen plenty of ups and downs in his career, took it in stride.
"The refs are doing the best job they can," he said. "They look at it, they make the best call they can, and you move forward. It's a difficult rule to understand."
Many of the 77,562 fans were left confused. Even some Patriots fans.