The New England Patriots may have gotten some assistance from the Gillette Stadium clock operator during their win over the New York Jets on Sunday. On the ensuing kickoff after the Jets took a 26-23 lead with just over two minutes remaining, kick returner Devin McCourty appeared to take about seven strides before the clock began ticking from 2:06. The clock also appeared to stop very quickly when the Jets recovered the McCourty fumble that nearly cost the Patriots the game, leaving 2:01 in the game.
Why is this significant? New England had all three of its timeouts remaining, and starting the clock late and stopping it quickly essentially gave them an extra timeout as New York attempted to chew up as much time as possible and kick a go-ahead field goal. Nick Folk wound up connecting with a 43-yarder to break the tie, but Tom Brady and company had 1:37 left to send the game to overtime.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPNewYork.com, the NFL reviewed the play and ruled that there was no error from the clock operator. Unless CBS had some sort of technical difficulty, the video above appears to show that the Patriots caught a break. Does that mean they would have lost? Not necessarily, but they would have had no timeouts remaining at the very least. It certainly would have made life more difficult.
Perhaps this is why Jim Nantz was so confused about the outcome of the game after it had ended.
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