Patriots tight end Hunter Henry seemed to have a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mac Jones, but after further review, it was reversed. Instead of walking away with a touchdown and a seven-point lead, the Pats settled for a field goal to take a 26-23 lead. The Vikings rattled off the next 10 points to escape with a 33-26 victory.
The call was controversial and damaging to New England’s playoff hopes. It also gave the Patriots an idea of what it’s like being on the other side of a bad call.
The New England Patriots got burned by a replay reversal
Momentum came to a screeching halt with 6:43 left in the third quarter of Thursday night’s game against the Vikings. The Patriots, who have been criticized for their weak offensive output in recent weeks, had moved the ball effortlessly throughout the game. Jones appeared to have his third touchdown pass of the game when Henry hauled in a pass and reached over the goal line.
The ball popped out but fell back into Henry’s hands, apparently without hitting the ground. The play was ruled a touchdown on the field. After a lengthy review, it was overturned. New England settled for three points and never scored again.
“I believe I caught it,” Henry said, per ESPN. “He said it hit the ground. But I believe my hand was under the ball. The hand was under the ball, with hitting the ground, that’s what kind of caused it to jump up. They made the call. Just got to live with it.”
It was a tough blow for the Pats. It left many, including Patriots radio colorman and former New England backup quarterback Scott Zolak wondering exactly what a catch is.
“I think there’s still a problem in this league as to what a catch is and what isn’t,” Zolak said, per MassLive. “There’s no consistency with the calls. Here were are. I’ve been doing games with Bob (Socci) for 10 years. We still don’t know what to catch is.”
The Patriots have been on the other end many times
Patriots fans finally got a taste of what it’s like to have a controversial call go against them. Remember the Tuck Rule that saved Tom Brady and the Pats in a playoff snowstorm against the Oakland Raiders? Brady fumbled the ball while trying to pull back a pass attempt, turning it over to the Raiders, but the league magically came up with the Tuck Rule that called it an incomplete pass, saving the possession.
Remember Jesse James’ non-catch against the Patriots in 2017? The Pittsburgh Steelers tight end had a similar play as Henry’s when he caught what looked to be a go-ahead touchdown with 28 seconds left. James reached over the goal line, and the ball seemed to move but never left James’ possession. After a long review, it was ruled a non-catch. Two plays later, Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone, preserving New England’s 27-24 win.
How about the phantom roughing-the-passer called against Kansas City’s Chris Jones in the AFC Championship Game in 2019? Jones rushed in on Brady and simply hit the quarterback’s shoulder. Brady never went down. He was just hit in the shoulder as Jones tried to disrupt a pass. The Chiefs were flagged for a personal foul, keeping New England’s drive alive.
Henry’s non-catch didn’t take place on the big stage in the postseason, but it still could have serious implications for the Patriots. The loss drops New England to 6-5. With a tough road ahead, that loss could be the difference between a playoff berth and an off-season golf outing.
In either case, the Patriots finally saw what it’s like to be on the wrong side of a controversial call.