New York Jets

NFL closes clock loophole that Patriots, Titans took advantage of in 2019

NFL closes clock loophole that Patriots, Titans took advantage of in 2019

The NFL announced Thursday a few rule changes for the 2020 season, and included was the decision not to adopt the controversial onside kick alternative that would've allowed trailing teams to convert a 4th-and-15 to retain possession after scoring.

One rule change that was approved closed a loophole which allowed teams to waste time on the game clock by committing multiple dead-ball penalties as the clock is running.

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New England Patriots fans might be familiar with this rule. The Patriots did this to the New York Jets in the fourth quarter of their Week 7 win at MetLife Stadium last season. New England took multiple dead-ball fouls and wasted more than a minute of game time.

These actions produced this hilarious clip of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sideline:

However, it wasn't so funny to the Patriots when they had the same thing done to them by the Tennessee Titans during their AFC Wild Card playoff matchup at Gillette Stadium. The Titans wasted valuable time in the fourth quarter (they took the clock from 6:35 to 4:50) of their 20-13 victory.

Here's what Belichick told reporters about this clock rule after that Week 7 game versus the Jets.

"No (it wasn't gamesmanship), it was just the way the rules are set up," Belichick explained. "We were able to run quite a bit of time off the clock without really having to do anything. That's probably a loophole that will be closed and probably should be closed but right now it's open."

He was right. The rule has been changed, and the league will be better as a result.

Joe Flacco joins AFC East: Jets agree to deal with old Patriots foe

Joe Flacco joins AFC East: Jets agree to deal with old Patriots foe

Joe Flacco is most certainly not elite. But he reportedly landed another NFL job -- in the New England Patriots' division, no less.

The veteran quarterback has agreed to one-year contract with the New York Jets, his agent confirmed Friday. The deal is worth $1.5 million but could reach $4.5 million if he hits certain incentives, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Jets already have a franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold, but Flacco will compete for the backup job, per Schefter, and perhaps help mentor the 22-year-old QB.

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Flacco also could give Darnold some pointers on how to succeed against the Patriots. While the 35-year-old veteran is 3-5 all-time against New England, he's the only QB not named Manning to beat Bill Belichick's Patriots more than once in the postseason. (2009 Wild Card Round and 2012 AFC Championship Game with the Baltimore Ravens).

Flacco threw three touchdown passes and zero interceptions in that 2012 AFC title game and also has a 92.0 passer rating against New England over five regular season games with nine TD passes.

That's not to say he'll give the Jets some magic formula to defeat the Patriots, who have won the teams' last eight meetings. He's also recovering from neck surgery and likely won't be cleared for play until September, per Schefter.

But Jets general manager Joe Douglas was a Ravens scout when Baltimore drafted Flacco back in 2008, and he apparently believes the aging QB can bring something to the Tom Brady-less AFC East.

Frank Gore claims AFC race is 'wide open' after Tom Brady's Patriots departure

Frank Gore claims AFC race is 'wide open' after Tom Brady's Patriots departure

Tom Brady's departure from the New England Patriots has put the AFC East title in play for the first time in a long while.

The Patriots have won the AFC East in 17 of the last 20 seasons, including a streak of 11 consecutive division titles. The six-time Super Bowl champion decided to leave the Patriots after 20 years and sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in NFL free agency, opening the door for the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills to claim the division crown.

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Veteran running back Frank Gore, who signed with the Jets this offseason, sees an open race for the division title.

"It's wide open," Gore told reporters Thursday, per ESPN's Rich Cimini. "(Tom) Brady's gone, and it's wide open. You've got young quarterbacks, Sam Darnold and Josh (Allen). I don't know what Miami is doing or whatever. I think it's wide open."

Gore isn't necessarily wrong -- the race should be a lot more competitive than it's been over the last 10 years.

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It also would be foolish to dismiss the Patriots' chances of extending their run of division dominance.

The Patriots defense, despite losing a few important veteran players during free agency, projects to be a top-10 unit next season. The Patriots' secondary remains one of the league's best. New England's offense, despite doubts from experts, still has plenty of talent, including what should be an excellent offensive line. The Patriots also have a tremendous coaching advantage with Bill Belichick running the show. No coach does a better job preparing his team each week.

The Patriots do face several challenges in defending their division title streak. Two of the toughest tasks facing New England are a very difficult 2020 schedule and adapting to a new starting quarterback.

Oddsmakers see a close AFC East race in 2020, but they still view the Patriots as the favorites to win the division, with the Bills coming in a close second.