The Jags' players were careful not to blame the refs for the loss but at least one was clearly not happy with the discrepancy.
"I was pissed because I seen [Danny] Amendola head-butt the hell out of Gip [Tashaun Gipson] in front of the ref and you all don't call nothing?" corner A.J. Bouye said, via ESPN.com. "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."
The first big penalty came at the end of the second quarter, a 32-yard pass interference on Bouye on Brandon Cooks, which set up the Patriots' first touchdown, slicing the Jags' lead to 14-10 at halftime.
"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."
Arguably the biggest penalty of the game came before Bouye's DPI. On the preceding drive, Blake Bortles was called for delay of game on third-and-7 on a play that would have resulted in a first down. Wiping out that play allowed the Patriots to get the ball with plenty of time to score a tide-turning touchdown.
Bouye was especially upset that the Patriots weren't called for multiple pass interference penalties, including one on cornerback Stephon Gilmore against receiver Dede Westbrook on a fourth-down pass late in the game, and an alleged head-butt from Amendola on Gipson.
According to NFL Research, the one penalty called on the Patriots (which came on a special teams return) was the fewest on one team in a playoff game since the 2011 AFC Championship, when the Pats were called for one penalty in a win over the Ravens.
The Jags were flagged for two big defensive pass interference penalties after being hit with an NFL-low five DPIs all season.
"I'll just say that's self-explanatory," linebacker Myles Jack said about the penalty discrepancy. "Interesting. That's all I'm going to say."
Bouye went out of his way to not blame the refs for the loss.
"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."