Jets’ Jordan Whitehead smacks ref in face celebrating sack on Commanders’ Sam Howell


An NFL referee took some incidental contact on Sunday during a game between the New York Jets and Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium.

Jets safety Jordan Whitehead picked up a half-sack on Commanders quarterback Sam Howell early in the first quarter with the team already up 3-0. As Whitehead went to celebrate with Jermaine Johnson, his flailing hand caught Clay Martin in the face.

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Sam Howell of the Washington Commanders is sacked by Jordan Whitehead of the New York Jets during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 24, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

No penalty was called on Whitehead. Instead, the Commanders were penalized for illegal formation. Two plays later, Johnson got to Commanders punter Tress Way and blocked his kick. The play set up a Jets touchdown on New York’s next drive.

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Whitehead has put together a solid season in his second straight year with New York. He was credited with a half-sack as John Franklin-Myers was also in on the tackle. 

Jermaine Johnson blocks

New York Jets linebacker Jermaine Johnson blocks the punt of Washington Commanders punter Tress Way on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

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Whitehead didn’t have any sacks coming into the game and hadn’t recorded one since the 2020 season when he was in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ secondary. This season, he has 84 total tackles and is nearing a career-high in solo tackles with 57. He had 58 solo tackles in 2021 and 2022.

The Jets were controlling the game from the start.

Sam Howell looks to throw

Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell passes against the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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New York was up 20-7 over Washington with 6:38 remaining in the first half.





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