Was this sideline play worthy of a penalty?

NFL officiating has evolved to the point that defenses that have an unkind thought about an opposing quarterback will draw a roughing-the-passer penalty. How, then, to explain what happened during Sunday’s Bills-Patriots game, when New England quarterback Mac Jones ended up rolling over five yards out of bounds, without a flag?

The deal: Buffalo’s Jerry Hughes Jr. extended his arms to make sure Jones made it all the way out of bounds. It’s a reasonable approach; Hughes almost surely didn’t know it, but fellow AFC East QB Zach Wilson had used a stutter-step feint at going out of bounds to run for a touchdown.  

What happened next is the issue. Did Hughes shove Jones while Jones’ foot was already out of bounds? Did Hughes then yank Jones down, or was he trying to keep the rookie quarterback from hitting the ground? Either way, he was putting his hands on the quarterback out of bounds, which would seem to be enough in the current officiating environment to earn Hughes a 16-game suspension. 

But the refs convened and decided this was just a good ol’ football play, which really ought to be the ruling a whole lot of other times, too. Patriots fans, feel free to disagree. 

The referees in Bills-Patriots decided Jerry Hughes dragging down Mac Jones (pictured) while possibly already out of bounds didn’t deserve a penalty. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)


Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at


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