A.J. Bouye of Jacksonville Jaguars criticizes officiating in AFC Championship Game


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Cornerback A.J. Bouye did not blame the Jacksonville Jaguars24-20 loss to the New England Patriots on officiating, but he certainly wasn’t happy about the huge discrepancy in penalties.

The Jaguars were penalized six times for 98 yards in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game while the Patriots were penalized just once for 10 yards, which was a holding penalty on a kickoff.

Bouye was especially upset about Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore not being called for pass interference against receiver Dede Westbrook on a fourth-down pass late in the game, a 32-yard pass interference call against him late in the first half that set up a touchdown, and Patriots receiver Danny Amendola not being called for head-butting safety Tashaun Gipson after a play in the third quarter.

“I was pissed because I seen Amendola head-butt the hell out of Gip in front of the ref and you all don’t call nothing?” Bouye said. “It don’t make no sense man; it’s a lot of stuff that don’t make no sense. I have a lot of respect for these people in this locker room. They kept fighting, we all kept fighting. We knew there was stuff we couldn’t control and we kept it close.”

Bouye said he felt like the Patriots players were trying to goad the Jaguars into committing penalties, much like players said the Buffalo Bills players tried to do in the AFC Wild Card game the Jaguars won 10-3.

The Jaguars were called for two defensive pass interference penalties against the Patriots. They had been flagged for an NFL-low five during the regular season. The Jaguars also had the NFL’s least-penalized defense this season, with a total of nine penalties (accepted or declined). Per the NFL, the Patriots’ one penalty is the fewest in a playoff game since 2011, when the Patriots were called for one in a victory over Baltimore.

That’ why he was particularly upset at what he said he saw Amendola do.

“I’m going to defend my teammates,” Bouye said. “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.”

Bouye said he wasn’t sure why he was called for pass interference against Cooks, either. Both players were hand-fighting and making contact down the sideline and Bouye forced Cook out of bounds. Tom Brady‘s throw fell incomplete but the officials penalized Bouye and the 31-yard penalty gave the Patriots the ball on the Jaguars’ 13. Two plays later they scored to cut the Jaguars’ lead to 14-10.

“I just got to watch the tape,” Bouye said. “I need to go look at the rule book on [pass interference penalties] because you’re telling me the receiver can have his hands on me the whole way down the field but if I look for the ball and try to protect myself from being pushed it’s a flag?

“Like I said, I just have to be better. I can’t put my team in that situation. It’s a flag, I got to own up to it find a way to get better at it.”

Linebacker Myles Jack was surprised at the penalty discrepancy when asked about it in the locker room.

“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.”

Defensive tackle Malik Jackson smirked when he was asked about the penalties and whether he thought things were unevenly called.

“The stats speak for themselves,” he said.

Bouye again stressed that the officiating didn’t cost the Jaguars the game, but would prefer a level playing field.

“You all see it,” Bouye said. “I got players hitting me up in the NFL saying the same thing. But at the end of the day we can’t put the blame on them. We didn’t execute good enough. They executed good enough.”

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