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BOSTON (CBS) — Fans of both the Jets and Patriots were probably feeling varied levels of frustration throughout the night as the two teams engaged in a somewhat ugly 60 minutes of football. But toward the end, things really got ugly.
Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib picked up his second interception of the night on a Geno Smith pass that looked to be intended for nobody in particular late in the fourth quarter. With the game literally in his hands, Talib should have gone down to the turf to end the play or step out of bounds, but the seventh-year veteran looked to have a glint in his eye as he looked toward the end zone. After all, Talib did take an interception back for a touchdown in his Patriots debut last season, and he may have wanted to taste the end zone in his first game at Gillette in 2013.
Nevertheless, there were no lanes for Talib to get to the end zone, and he decided to step out of bounds, albeit in an unorthodox manner. As Talib spun out of bounds, Nick Mangold — the man whose presence forced Talib to go out of bounds — dived low on the cornerback’s ankles as he twisted to the ground.
For his part, Talib did not react negatively to the hit, as he was helped to his feet by defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and went on his merry way to the sideline. Some of Talib’s teammates, however, took offense, and within seconds, a giant melee of navy and white had broken out near the Patriots sideline.
When it had all cleared, the officials called three penalties on the Jets. Mangold was penalized 15 yards for a late hit out of bounds, and D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Willie Colon were both ejected from the game — Ferguson for throwing a punch and Colon for making contact with an official.
“I was tired of losing, and we just can’t have it. I don’t remember,” Colon said after the game, adding that he hopes he does not get suspended. “I was trying to get in there and help my brother and that is why I reacted the way I reacted. … I lost my temper. I lost my cool out there and we can’t have it. It hurts your team and I know better, so it is my fault.”
“I don’t really remember the details of what happened,” Ferguson said. “I just know that at the end of the day I was ejected. It was just a lot of frustration today and we didn’t really have the result we were looking for.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick clearly took issue with the events, as he protested to the officials to force the ejected players to actually leave the Jets sideline before play resumed again. Jets head coach Rex Ryan, however, disagreed that Mangold’s initial hit was dirty.
“Well, I think Mangold tried to make a tackle, is what I think happened,” Ryan said. “And he does, he goes, and tried to take the guy. And you know, I think what happened is Nick went down, the guy turned his back, he ran into the back of his legs and wasn’t intentional, by any means. He just tried to make a cut tackle. And he went out of bounds and then all heck broke loose apparently and our team was the only one involved in it.”
Ryan’s sarcastic twist at the end indicated he thought the Patriots deserved a penalty or two from the fracas, but at that point it did not matter. Tom Brady and the offense took a knee on the next play, the clock ran out, the coaches exchanged a brief, icy handshake, and the teams went to their respective locker rooms.
Mangold, the man whose tackle out of bounds started the whole thing, criticized Belichick for getting involved.
“He got heated about it,” Mangold said of Belichick. “I was a little surprised by that. I figured he had a little bit more poise.”
They’ll meet again just five weeks from now in New York. We’ll see then if there’s any lingering feelings that carry over into that meeting.