The Houston Texans laid an egg during the first half of their playoff matchup with the Buffalo Bills on Saturday afternoon. The two sides entered the locker room at the half with the Bills up, 13-0, and if there was any consolation for the Texans, it’s that Buffalo could have been up by much more. It also helped that they got the opening kickoff at the start of the third quarter, which seemed like something helpful before disaster nearly struck.
Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka booted the ball to the back of the end zone. Texans return man DeAndre Carter fielded it, then tossed the ball to the official. The issue was that the referee let it fall to the ground, as Carter never officially gave some sort of signal indicating he was giving himself up, and while the cameras panned to a sideline report by ESPN’s Lisa Salters, Buffalo scooped it up and scored.
This is one of the most bizarre moments in NFL playoff broadcast history pic.twitter.com/SAMeNGh4rI
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 4, 2020
Here’s a view of what happened from a different angle. While Carter put his arms up to tell his blockers he was not taking the ball out, since he never took a knee or waved for a fair catch, the ref let the ball fall to the ground.
officially a touchback for the Texans, but man oh man was it close to a Bills touchdown pic.twitter.com/RG3OsyJZ3Q
— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) January 4, 2020
As the broadcast on ESPN explained, though, Carter gave himself up on a few occasions: when he signaled for his blockers that he was not taking it out, and when he tossed the ball to the official to indicate he was not attempting a return. ESPN’s officiating analyst, John Perry, basically explained that the referees needed to use “common sense” and rule that Carter gave himself up. That ended up happening, and while it meant that something went Houston’s way, the good fortune did not continue, as the ensuing drive was a three-and-out, while the team’s next drive ended in a fumble that Buffalo turned into three points.