MINNESOTA — The New England Patriots’ 6-yard reception in the third quarter was nullified by instant replay Thursday night, a decision that left him stumped after losing 33-26 to the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium.
“I think I picked it up,” Henry said late Thursday night in the Patriots locker room. “He said it hit the ground. But I think my hand was under the ball. The hand was under the ball, with it hitting the ground, and that made it jump.
“They made the call. I just have to live with it.”
On a third-and-goal play from the 6-yard line, quarterback Mack Jones released a pass near the goal line to Henry, who was covered by Vikings’ linebacker Chandon Sullivan. Henry had his hands on the ball as he raced towards the goal line.
The officials initially ruled it a touchdown, before rescinding the call to an incomplete pass after a lengthy review.
A touchdown would have given the Patriots a 30-23 lead midway through the third quarter, assuming a successful point-by-point attempt. Instead, they settled for a 25-yard field goal by Nick Faulk. Then the Vikings scored their last 10 points in the game.
NFL Vice President Walt Anderson explained the overturned call in a pool report, saying, “He was falling to the ground, the ball ended up touching the ground, and then he lost control of the ball in his hands.”
When asked why Henry wasn’t given possession before the ball hits the ground, Anderson said: ‘Because when he’s down he has to keep control of the ball on contact with the ground. A term that’s commonly used is ‘surviving the ground’.. He has the elements of two feet and control, but as he goes to the ground, he has to maintain control of the ball. “
As the replay began, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said he believed it was either a run off the goal line or an incomplete pass.
“I think it’s one of those things that could have gone a lot of different ways. I was so glad it went the way it did,” he said.
Henry had two hands on the ball, but Anderson said that alone was not enough.
“If he maintains control of the ball with both hands, even if the ball touches the ground, it will still count as a grab,” he said.
Henry, in his seventh NFL season, only watched the replay while watching the scoreboard at US Bank Stadium. In the aftermath of Thursday’s game, he planned to “really look at it in the cinema room, just try to be better and control the ball all the way so there’s no question.”
The Patriots still had chances after the referee, but they were doomed to self-injury, like a fourth-quarter penalty that turned into an eventual Vikings penalty.
“We have to move on from that [overturned] Play and play the rest of the game. “There was plenty of time,” Jones said. “There were other times we could have come in and that wasn’t a problem. One call can’t decide the outcome. We have to be able to do better, so it’s not even close.”
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