Video shows Pats' sideline wall vs. Jets

Updated: January 18, 2011, 12:30 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Video surfaced Sunday showing several Patriots players standing flush against the inside border of the sideline during a punt return in a Week 2 loss to the Jets, with the last player in the line attempting to trip New York's special-teams "gunner."

Fox Sports broadcasted the footage during its coverage of Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game, reporting the Jets were aware of the Patriots' actions when under scrutiny by the NFL for similar activity that resulted in a $100,000 fine.

The Jets became privy to the Patriots' use of the sideline wall when they signed a player off the Patriots' practice squad in November, Fox Sports reported. Linebacker Shawn Crable was added a few days after he was cut by the Patriots.

The NFL said Monday the Patriots' positioning was not "illegal" because the players involved were offensive linemen prepared to enter the game. But any intent to trip would be a separate matter and could be subject to discipline.

The Jets are appealing the fine handed down by the NFL last month, levied for a violation of league rules when Sal Alosi, a strength and conditioning coach, tripped Miami's Nolan Carroll on the sideline during a punt return in the Jets-Dolphins game on Dec. 12.

The league said Alosi instructed inactive players to stand in a wall in a prohibited area on the sideline to deter opposing teams' players during special-teams plays, which is a violation of NFL policy.

The video of the Patriots showed the players in a similar sideline position.

Alosi was suspended until the end of the season by the Jets.

After the Alosi incident, Jets special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff told the media he had seen similar tactics used by other teams, specifically naming the Patriots. Westhoff said he noticed it when he watched film of past games to see if Alosi had the Jets stand in the wall formation during earlier games.

"Were [the Patriots] teaching it?" Westhoff said at the time. "I have no idea. When they punted were they back? Yes. When the other team punted were they up tighter? Yes. Absolutely. You can look at it -- look at the tape. I'm not accusing the Patriots of doing something wrong, maybe they are doing something smart. That's up to you.

"Just watch the tape. You tell me. I know one thing, I don't teach it, I don't coach it and I'm not aware that it happened."

Both Jets coach Rex Ryan and Westhoff have said they were unaware of the tactic.

A few days after the incident, the NFL sent a letter to all 32 teams reminding them of the rules and restrictions for the bench area and sidelines.

Jets owner Woody Johnson has since apologized to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, as well as Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

Information from ESPN Senior NFL Analyst Chris Mortensen and ESPNNewYork.com contributor Ian Begley was used in this report.

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