For Pete's Sake

Patriots had fewest penalties in playoff game in seven years. The Jaguars weren’t happy

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick argued a call with referee Clete Blakeman during the first half of the AFC Championship Game.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick argued a call with referee Clete Blakeman during the first half of the AFC Championship Game. The Associated Press

If you are into conspiracy theories or maybe you really don’t like the Patriots, then this statistic will be of interest.

During Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, which New England won 24-20 over the Jaguars, the Patriots were called for one penalty. According to the NFL, that was the fewest penalties called on one team in a playoff game since the 2011 AFC Championship Game ... when New England was penalized just once in its victory over the Ravens.

The Jaguars were penalized six times for 98 yards on Sunday, including a pass-interference call that aided the Patriots late in the first half. ESPN’s Michael DiRocco pointed out the discrepancy to Jacksonville’s Myles Jack.

“Interesting,” Jack said. “My thoughts on that is ... yeah, that’s kind of self-explanatory. I didn’t know that. I’ll just say that’s self-explanatory. Interesting. That’s all I’m going to say.”

New England trailed 14-3 late in the first half, but scored a touchdown to trim the deficit to four points at he break. The drive was helped by a 32-yard pass interference penalty on Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye, who was guarding Brandin Cooks:

At the half, CBS analyst Boomer Esiason said: “It’s Gillette Stadium so the flags have to come out, don’t they boys?”

The Jaguars led 20-10 in the fourth quarter when Jack stripped the ball and started running for what could have been a touchdown. Instead, one of the officials blew a whistle and the play was dead.

After the game, one of the first people to congratulate Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was referee Clete Blakeman. This may have been something that Blakeman does at each game, but it wasn’t a good look.

This next video was widely shared on Twitter and is likely not what it seems, but it only added fuel to the fire of those who smelled a conspiracy:

The Jaguars’ Bouye was particularly incensed by what he said was a missed head-butt by New England’s Danny Amendola on Tashaun Gipson.

“I’m going to defend my teammates,” Bouye told ESPN. “You all see it on TV, the one where Amendola head-butted Gip. Right after the whistle was blown. Right in front of them. I’m just asking how you going to let them do that?

“I understand you’re all going to let us play, but we know they’re going to try to instigate stuff. They head-butted my man. C’mon, man.”

However, Bouye told ESPN the difference in penalties wasn’t what cost the Jaguars.

“But at the end of the day, we can’t put the blame on them,” he said. “We didn’t execute good enough. They executed good enough.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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