Buffalo Bills, officiating and moving on

Buffalo Bills, officiating and moving on

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Referees work during the first half of an NFL football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Nearly a week after the Buffalo Bills blew a 16-point lead and lost a playoff game, some fans are still upset. A good chunk of Bills Mafia that isn't over the loss (yet) are blaming the officials for some bad calls. 

Yes, the officiating wasn't great. But if you've watched NFL games lately, you'd know that the officiating isn't great for most games. 

The three biggest blunders (according to the Bills fans) that the officials committed in Saturday's AFC wild-card game: 

• Applying "common sense" instead of the rules when the Bills appeared to score a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the second half 

• Not calling delay of game on the infamous third-and-18 play, which the Texans converted for a first down

• The blindside block call that prevented the Bills from attempting a game-winning field goal 

As a Bills fan, I have complaints about how the officials handled two of these plays: The kickoff and the blindside block. On the kickoff, the Texans returner doesn't take the required knee in the end zone after fielding the kick. He did not let the ball hit the end zone, which would've made it a dead ball. He had two options to down the ball, and he chose neither of them. Whether the Bills won or lost the game, it sets a terrible precedent for the application of the rules. The intervention of backup officials also bothered me. That should not be permitted. Tony Corrente made the correct call, but they talked him out of it because of "common sense." 

The blindside block rule is garbage. I've seen it used against the Bills and other teams. I can understand its application for plays in the open field, especially returns, when players have been clobbered in the past by opposing blockers going the other direction. I don't believe using it against offensive linemen, whose job it is to block defenders, is appropriate. After reviewing the Cody Ford play, that's not what a blindside block should be in the NFL. That was a clean block that involved no contact with the head or neck. 

As for the third-and-18 play, there are some fans who are still complaining about this and believe delay of game should be called. If you watch the play, the ball is snapped pretty quickly after the play clock reaches zero. You're not going to get a flag on that play. The Bills had a similar play earlier in the game. The refs have been generous with that cushion in the past. However, the bigger issue on that play was the Bills' defense giving up a third-down conversion when they had the Texans backed up. If you want to be mad at somebody, be mad at the Bills' coaching staff. 

There is something to keep in mind, though, when looking back on this game or, for some, dwelling on it: The Bills blew the lead. The Bills had a 16-point lead late in the third quarter. It evaporated quickly in the fourth quarter. Even after losing the lead, the Bills tied it to force overtime and had chances to win the game in the extra period. 

It was the Bills' play, not the officiating, that cost them the game. It's time to move on. 

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