The Buffalo Bills were trailing the New England Patriots 20-13 in the final seconds of the Week 11 edition of Monday Night Football. Looking to gain some additional yardage to give his team one last shot at a final play, Tyrod Taylor completed a 16-yard pass to Sammy Watkins, who fell down, but rolled out of bounds without being touched.
At that point, instead of the clock stopping with a few seconds left (which would have given the Bills one final shot at a Hail Mary), the side official motioned for the clock to keep running, and there was not enough time for Buffalo to get back to the line of scrimmage. The game ended with a Patriots victory.
The officials in the Bills-Patriots game were already having a rough day, thanks to one of the most bizarre calls of the season that potentially cost the Patriots a touchdown in third quarter. They appeared to make it even worse with what ended up being the game’s final play.
Referee Gene Steratore defended the decision to end the game, saying that Watkins had “given himself up,” thus indicating that the clock should continue running.
Via Pro Football Talk.
“What we had as far as the last play with Buffalo’s reception was that the receiver gave himself up voluntarily in the field of play,” Steratore said. “When that occurs and we deem that the runner, which he would have been after he maintained possession after his reception, he was now a runner, had given himself up in the field of play. Then fact that he scoots out of bounds is not as important. We wound the clock. It was a judgment call by that head linesman that he felt like he gave himself up in the field of play. It’s not a reviewable play. So winding the clock or stopping the clock is not something we review. So, in his judgment, he deemed that the runner gave himself up in the field of play voluntarily, which does put him down by contact in the field, so he wound [the clock].”
Former NFL referee and current Fox officiating analyst Mike Pereira, however, disagreed with Steratore’s assessment on Twitter.
Obviously, the chances are slim-to-none that the Bills would have completed a Hail Mary on the last play to put them an extra point away from tying the game, but crazier things have happened, and for a team that is scratching and clawing to stay in the playoff hunt, every play is critical.
The blown call at the end of the game is bad on its own, but compounded with the egregious mystery whistle from earlier in the game, Gene Steratore and his crew may be facing some serious heat from the league.
(Via Pro Football Talk)