Florham Park, NJ- The Jets were driving down field, trailing 31-24, faced with a fourth-and-four with 5:06 left in the game when it happened.
The crowd at Lambeau Field was jumping, making all sorts of noise, the ball was snapped and Geno Smith dropped back and threw beautiful pass to Jermey Kerley in the end zone for what looked to be a game-tying touchdown, but that was only because no one could hear the whistle blow right before the snap. The referee announced the Jets had called their third and last timeout just before the snap and Rex Ryan stood there wondering out loud, ‘who the hell called timeout?’
The rules state that only the head coach can call a timeout from the sideline and Ryan did not call a timeout, but once the whistle blew it didn’t matter who actually called the timeout.
As the play-clock was winding down Marty Mornhinweg raced down the sideline trying to get Ryan’s attention. The formation was all wrong and he thought they were going to need a timeout, but Mornhinweg realized Smith corrected the formation and had them properly lined up. So, Mornhinweg and Ryan exchanged a glance agreeing the timeout was no longer necessary, but Sheldon Richardson didn’t see and/or decipher the glance and yelled timeout. If you watch the replay you can very clearly see the referee react to Richardson, you couldn’t hear anything because of the crowd noise, but you can certainly see the reaction from the referee immediately followed Richardson leaning in towards the referee.
After the game Richardson fell on the proverbial sword and took responsibility for the timeout.
“I saw Marty calling the timeout and I was into the game,” Richardson said per nj.com. “I knew it was crunch time. I didn’t know if he wanted the timeout or not. I just knew he called it. I helped him out a little bit. I whispered in the referee’s ear ‘timeout.’ and he called it before the ball was thrown. It’s just bad timing on my part. I feel like I let the team down. It just happens when you’re into the game like that, though.”
Mornhinweg absolved Richardson of any responsibility, but the damage was done. And while the rule states that only the head coach can call timeouts from the sideline (players on field can call timeout but not on the sideline and coordinators or other staff can’t call timeouts), when the play-clock is winding down the referee can’t turn his head to check who is calling for the timeout and risk missing the snap. So, the referee heard Richardson call timeout and mistook him for Ryan and awarded the Jets a timeout but making matters worse was the fact that no one heard the timeout so we all saw what would have been.
After the fact there was nothing to be done, Richardson doesn’t have the power to call a timeout there but clearly the referee thought it was Ryan calling the timeout and regardless of if the players heard the whistle the play was dead as soon as he blew it. The Jets managed to get a first down on the very next play to extend the drive but they weren’t able to get those seven points back and with that mistake went the game.
“I want to make it crystal clear, everything that goes on offensively is my responsibility. Period.” Mornhinweg said. “So, I’ve got to do a better job of communicating and then trusting big Geno. I got to trust Geno to get everything fixed before the 40-second clock. So, that’s the scenario. I was surprised that the timeout was called, that’s all. I understand all the other things that go on with it, but certainly we were all surprised at the time.”
“I was running down the sideline to call a timeout (but) we didn’t need it because Geno fixed the problem.”
Mornhinweg said if he had a do-over the only thing he would do is, “I would trust Geno to fix it. It’s as simple as that.”
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