There are always a few plays that change the course of a game, serving to swing the momentum or give a team an extra opportunity where it may not have had one previously.
There were several controversial plays during the course of the 29-26 overtime thriller between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets.
No. 1: The Challenge Flag
The play in question here was a fumble by tight end Aaron Hernandez, recovered by the Jets for a touchback. As we all know, all turnovers are subject to booth review this year.
According to CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz, though, head coach Bill Belichick was unaware and threw a challenge flag. Though the flag was never seen, and several reporters say they didn't see it either (h/t Greg Bedard), the crowd and sideline reacted as though one had been thrown.
If it had been thrown, Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post stated that the ball should have been awarded to the Jets.
Per @footballzebras, Hernandez’s fumble shouldn’t have even been reviewed b/c Belichick threw flag at illegal moment. Jets would have won.— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) October 22, 2012
He clarified later, however, that this was not the case:
The Hernandez play controversy is now moot. The NFL has ruled that no challenge flag was thrown, per a league spokesman.— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) October 22, 2012
No. 2: Clock Malfunction
Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty nearly fumbled away the game, but he chose the exact right moment to lose the ball. The Jets pounced on it with 2:01 remaining, allowing the Patriots to keep one of their timeouts.
There was some controversy as to whether the Patriots had been gifted with some convenient clock control from the scorekeeper, but per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, though, that was not the case.
NFL did examine clock operator issue on kickoff with 2:06 left in regulation of Jets-Pats +found there was no improper handling of clock— Manish Mehta(@MMehtaNYDN) October 22, 2012
Clock started when McCourty field kick and stopped at 2:01 as field judge was signaling to stop, according to NFL. #nyj— Manish Mehta(@MMehtaNYDN) October 22, 2012
With that out of the way, here's all the best analysis of yesterday's action in the AFC East.
New England Patriots
Zuri Berry of The Boston Globe writes that despite the overtime win, the Patriots offense's late-game execution remains an issue.
Bleacher Report featured columnist Adam Waksman wonders what level of worry is appropriate following the Patriots overtime win.
New York Jets
Bob Glauber of Newsday wonders when we will finally get a good read on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has been up-and-down dramatically all season long.
Mike Vorkunov of the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger writes that the Jets have found their weapons in the passing game in tight end Dustin Keller and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley.
Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 Sportsradio writes that the Bills have been giving their opponents too many opportunities to win games.
B/R featured columnist Ryan Talbot lists winners and losers from Sunday's Bills-Titans game.
Adam H. Beasley of The Miami Herald chronicles Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake's rise to stardom in the NFL.
Ben Volin of The Palm Beach Post writes that the AFC East is wide open and there for the taking for the Miami Dolphins.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
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