"I was pissed because I seen Amendola head-butt the hell out of Gip in front of the ref and you all don't call nothing?" cornerback A.J. Bouye said, per Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. "It don't make no sense man; it's a lot of stuff that don't make no sense. I have a lot of respect for these people in this locker room. They kept fighting, we all kept fighting. We knew there was stuff we couldn't control, and we kept it close."
DiRocco—who passed along the penalty stats—noted Bouye was particularly upset Danny Amendola wasn't penalized for head-butting safety Tashaun Gipson, Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore was not flagged for pass interference on a late fourth-down stop and that he was penalized for a pass interference that led to a touchdown in New England's 24-20 win.
"Interesting," linebacker Myles Jack said when told of the penalty discrepancies. "My thoughts on that is ... yeah, that's kind of self-explanatory. I didn't know that."
Defensive tackle Malik Jackson took the simple approach and said, "The stats speak for themselves."
Those stats were head turning.
According to DiRocco, Jacksonville was the league's least-penalized defense during the season with just nine penalties, five of which were pass interference (also a league low). However, they were whistled for two critical defensive pass interferences against the Patriots.
NFL Research put Sunday's contest into historical perspective:
A number of plays stood out, including the pass interference called on Bouye. He and Brandin Cooks were hand-fighting near the sideline on an incomplete pass, and the flag cost the Jaguars 32 yards in what became a New England touchdown drive to help trim the deficit to 14-10.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus said of the play, "This coverage was so dominant that they basically threw a pity flag for Cooks."
Andrew Joseph of USA Today's For The Win detailed an even more important play in the fourth quarter with Jacksonville ahead by 10 points. Jack recovered a Dion Lewis fumble and jumped up ready to run for a potential touchdown and commanding three-score lead.
"Jack had no Patriots ahead of him who could have made a play against one of the league's speediest linebackers," Joseph wrote. "Yet, the play was called dead."
Since it was called dead even though "Jack was not touched after he gained full control of the ball and was justifiably furious when the official blew his whistle," per Joseph, the play couldn't have been reviewed and what appeared to be a sure touchdown and significant blow to New England's chances disappeared.
The Jaguars never scored again, and Tom Brady found Danny Amendola for two touchdowns down the stretch to secure the victory and a third trip to the Super Bowl in the last four years.
As if that weren't enough, referee Clete Blakeman appeared to offer Brady a congratulatory pat on the chest immediately after the game, which at least raised eyebrows.
However, Ian Kenyon of Bleacher Report tweeted some context: "This is head referee Clete Blakeman who is in his 10th year, 8th as a ref. I think we're being naive if we don't think 10+ year NFL vets don't develop some sort of working relationships with 10+ year refs."
The officials and their calls and no-calls clearly played a role in New England's win, but Brady also deserves credit for making the clutch plays with the game on the line. He has made a career of doing so and beat the defense that allowed the fewest passing yards in the league during the regular season on Sunday.
As a result, the Jaguars were left on the outside of the Super Bowl thinking about the whistles and Brady's two touchdowns.