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Mac Jones' interception might have hit ESPN's SkyCam wire, but ESPN says it didn't happen

Why is Bill Belichick playing both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe?
Why is Bill Belichick playing both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe? 03:08

BOSTON -- Bill Belichick insisted after Monday night's loss that the timing of Mac Jones coming out of the game in favor of Bailey Zappe was not directly related to the quarterback's interception. Even though Jones' pick was his final snap of the night, Belichick said that Jones being relegated to the sidelines as a spectator was part of a plan.

Regardless, some Zapruder-esque footage has now been making the rounds on social media, and it shows that the interception might not have been entirely Jones' fault. (Emphasis on might, though.)

The video -- spotted by Twitter user "@BillsFilm" and amplified by Pro Football Focus' Doug Kyed -- appeared to show Jones' pass possibly hitting the wire that controls the SkyCam used by ESPN for Monday Night Football.

A closer look does appear to show the trajectory of the pass drop a touch after what looked like a minor collision with the wire.

Still, it's hard to say definitively that the ball hit the wire. And it's even more difficult to say that it made any difference on the play.

On that play, Jones evaded pressure in the pocket, running to his right, only to be met by the 332-pound Mike Pennel staring him in the face. So, rather than get hit, Jones hopped backward and threw off his back foot toward Jonnu Smith. The floater was ripe for the picking, and -- wire or no wire -- it was destined for trouble along the right sideline.

But here's the rub: If the ball did hit the wire, and if either the officiating crew, the replay official, or a member of the Patriots' coaching staff had noticed, then Jones and the Patriots might have been bailed out. That's because the NFL rulebook states this: "If a loose ball in play strikes a video board, guide wire, sky cam, or any other object, the ball will be dead immediately, and the down will be replayed at the previous spot." The on-field officials could have blown the play dead, or the replay official could have initiated a review, or the Patriots could have challenged the play. That is, of course, if anyone had noticed.

And if the replay review determined that the ball hit the wire, then the Patriots would have had another crack at second-and-10 at the Chicago 36-yard line. And Jones would have gotten some more opportunities to do something positive before his night was ended.

Alas, the footage is far from overwhelming in terms of being enough to change the call on the field. And the lopsided final score of 33-14 indicates that such a call likely wouldn't have made a difference at all in the outcome of the game.

Yet in the midst of a unique and frankly bizarre quarterback competition, it certainly was at least one break that Mac Jones would have liked to catch on a night when not much went his way.

UPDATE: ESPN has released a statement denying that the ball hit the wire.

"This pass from Mac Jones did not hit ESPN's SkyCam wiring," the statement said. "This video creates a false impression, but in reality the SkyCam wire was more than 15 feet above the ball and our SkyCam system followed all NFL protocols."

Vindictive New Englanders who hold a grudge about objectively false DeflateGate reporting that turned a minor story into a major scandal may feel inclined to note how quickly the network acted to try to clear the air when it was their own potential wrongdoing in question. Regardless ...  ESPN's official stance is that the ball did not hit the wire, despite the impression given by the video.

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