SEATTLE, WASH. – The NFL’s ratings dip – particularly as it concerns prime-time games – has been blamed on an assortment of things, through the first eight weeks of the season. This wild presidential election, Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest and bad matchups have all been thrown out there.
However, after the Bills 31-25 loss to Seattle on Monday night, incompetent officiating might as well jump to the top the list.
In a controversial sequence just before the half, Buffalo sent Dan Carpenter out to attempt a 53-yard field goal that at the time could have cut the Seahawks lead to eight, 28-20. Just before the snap CB Richard Sherman jumped noticeably early, and made a halfhearted attempt at blocking the kick, crashing into Carpenter who proceeded with the kick as whistles started blowing. Carpenter immediately fell to the turf clutching at his knee, yet no personal foul penalty was assessed, only the offsides.
Complicating things further, the referees ruled that because the Bills training staff had come out to help Carpenter, he now had to sit out a play. With only three seconds left Rex Ran smartly had his offense go out and spike the ball, which allowed Carpenter to return to the game and try the field goal again, now from 48 yards.
The situation got worse when head referee Walt Anderson stood over the ball waiting to set the play, without realizing the play clock was winding down to four seconds. By that time the Bills had no time to get the snap off and of course committed a delay of game penalty. The penalty proved costly too as Carpenter would pull the kick wide right and the Bills went to the half down two possessions instead of one.
It was an inexcusable blunder by the officiating crew and in a game that was decided by only six points, likely cost the Bills a shot at winning.
“Ridiculous,” Bills head coach Rex Ryan called it afterward. “Absolutely ridiculous. You know we saw him go down and our trainers ran out, and that’s what we had to do.
“And then of course they gotta put the K-ball (kicking ball) out there and they don’t reset the clock. So from an officiating standpoint, I think you can do a little better than that.”
Anderson explained himself after the game as well, admitting they made a detrimental mistake. “Anytime we end up … bringing in the kicking ball, we will hold up the play, just for the teams to get their substitutions in and then we move off the ball.
“If there as that little time left, then that’s probably a mistake on my part for not pumping the play clock back up. But I was not aware that it was that far into the play clock.”
As if it will reconcile a gut-wrenching loss, the Bills will surely receive an apology from the league this week.
Ryan also didn’t mince words in regards to Sherman’s unnecessary hit on Carpenter. “I guess it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I thought he roughed our kicker,” he explained. “It was a ridiculous play. Then he is over on the sideline basically taunting us, so I had some words. I think I said that you’re too good of a player to act like an ass.”
Unfortunately, those controversial miscues by the referees will overshadow what was a fantastic football game. Coming into Monday night this matchup was supposed to be about defense, instead, it wound up being the offenses that stole the show.
For the Bills that centered around QB Tyrod Taylor, who put together the most impressive game of his career against one of the league’s best defenses, in the most hostile environment in the NFL.
He got off to a fast start after Jerry Hughes blocked a Seahawks punt on their first possession of the game, setting up Buffalo at the Seattle three. One play later Taylor would scamper in off the left side, to give the Bills an early 7-0 lead.
It was their second possession of the night that was arguably the most impressive drive of Taylor’s career. The 27-year-old QB helped orchestrate a 17-play, 75-yard, 10 minute drive, in which the Bills went a perfect five-for-five on third down and broke a 7-7 tie, with a five-yard TD pass from Taylor-to-Justin Hunter.
It was the most plays Buffalo had strung together on a scoring drive this season, as Taylor was a nearly perfect five-of-six passing during the series.
After that debacle just before the half, Taylor would pick up where he left off to start the third quarter, working the ball down to the Seattle 27 before throwing a pick – his one blemish of the night. That was a drive Buffalo would have liked to have back.
Later on with Seattle up six, 31-25, he’d get two stabs at trying to lead a fourth quarter comeback. The first opportunity began with 9:49 left in the game and ended with a punt 11 plays later from the Seahawks 45, after a Cordy Glenn tripping penalty set them back.
The defense would hold their ground and get the ball back to the offense for one final chance, with 2:41 remaining. In a true “gut check” moment, Taylor converted an improbable third-and-21 on a pinpoint pass to Robert Woods early on in the drive, before working the ball inside the Seattle 10. In heartbreaking fashion though, Taylor’s attempt at a comeback came up short by a mere seven yards.
On the night, Taylor finished 27-of-38, for 289 yards and a touchdown through the air, but it was his poise in the pocket, and his ability to make plays with his arm – not just his legs – that should provide some much needed reassurance for the organization moving forward.
WR Woods reaped the benefits of his QB’s big night, hauling in 10 receptions for a career-best 162 yards after being a non-factor against the Patriots in Week 8.
In his return to the field from a hamstring injury, RB LeSean McCoy looked as elusive as ever accounting for 85 rushing yards and another 35 receiving.
As a team the Bills dominated in almost every key category, outgaining the Seahawks 425 to 278, converting and incredible 12 of their 17 third down opportunities and controlling the football for 40 minutes – more than double the amount of time Seattle held it.
It still wasn’t enough, thanks to a poor first half for the defense that proved to be too much for the offense to overcome.
The news that center Eric Wood had endured a season ending broken leg, won’t make this one any easier to swallow.
At 4-5 on the season the Bills have tumbled into the bye week following three straight losses and will likely have to win six of their last seven games to have any shot at ending their 16-year playoff drought.
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