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Jets ruin potential game-tying touchdown with illegal timeout

It looked like the Jets had tied their game with a huge touchdown, but they made the mistake of calling timeout beforehand. Or did they?

After leading the Green Bay Packers 21-3, the New York Jets totally collapsed, falling behind 24-21 and then 31-24. However, a late drive appeared to have partially salvaged things when Geno Smith lofted a gorgeous strike on fourth down to Jeremy Kerley in the end zone, apparently knotting the game at 31, pending the extra point.

Except it didn't. The referees indicated that the Jets had called their final timeout before the play, meaning the Jets essentially wiped out their own score.

However, the refs probably shouldn't have blown their whistles at all. The only people allowed to call a timeout are the players on the field and the head coach, in this case Rex Ryan. But we don't see Ryan calling for a timeout. We only see offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg -- he's the one wildly gesticulating, but as an assistant he isn't allowed to call a timeout -- and Sheldon Richardson, who steps in behind the ref immediately before the ref blows his whistle:


Richardson isn't on the field, so he isn't allowed to call for timeout either. Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead speculated that the ref might've thought Richardson was Ryan since he was in the same spot as Ryan. It's possible Richardson was acting on Ryan's orders, but we certainly don't see the only person actually authorized to call for a timeout calling for one.

Ryan pleaded to the refs that he hadn't called time:

One might argue that the timeout before the play invalidates the fact that the play went for a touchdown, since players often stop giving it their all once a whistle blows, but it seems as if the loud Lambeau Field crowd drowned out the sound of a whistle -- it looked like everybody was playing their hardest.

The Jets picked up the fourth-and-four on the ensuing play, but they failed to convert on their next set of downs. The Packers picked up a first down on their next drive and ended the game. Who knows what would've happened if Kerley's touchdown would've counted, but New York would've had a better chance at not losing in depressing fashion if all this hadn't gone down.