The Buffalo Bills caught the wrong end of two critical calls that could have cost them a victory Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a longtime veteran NFL referee claims.
A furious fourth-quarter comeback from the Bills fell flat in overtime when Tom Brady found Breshad Perriman for a 58-yard touchdown for a 33-27 win. After the game, many Bills fans were left fuming about a series of controversial calls and non-calls, including a defensive pass interference that allowed the Buccaneers to continue their overtime drive and set up the winning score. Former ref Terry McAulay says those fans have a legitimate gripe.
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Refs Under Fire
The Bills had already erased most of a 21-point deficit when they were driving for what could have been a game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. On a 3rd-and-2 from the 7-yard line with under a minute to go, Bills quarterback Josh Allen threw a fade to Stefon Diggs, who appeared to be held by Tampa defender Carlton Davis. The refs threw no flag, and Buffalo settled for a game-tying field goal and the chance to win in overtime.
After an initial overtime drive from the Bills stalled, Tampa took the ball. On a first-down play from their own 16-yard line, Brady underthrew a ball to wide receiver Mike Evans, who appeared to grab onto Bills cornerback Levi Wallace as he came back to the ball. Wallace was whistled for pass interference, giving the Buccaneers a first down and a 19-yard gain.
McAulay, who works as a rules analyst on Sunday Night Football, took to Twitter to explain that officials were wrong to call defensive pass interference. He also pointed to the non-call on Diggs near the end of regulation.
Others agreed, including Wallace himself. The Bills cornerback said after the game that he believes he played the ball well and shouldn’t have been flagged.
“I mean, I think it’s a bad call. I don’t know,” Wallace said, via the Buffalo News. “You have to ask the ref. I think I played it as good as I could have.”
Bills Face Tough Path Back to Playoffs
The loss to Brady and the Patriots dropped the Bills to 7-6 and on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Though the Bills no longer control their own destiny and could need to win out to clinch a playoff spot, head coach Sean McDermott had some good things to say about the team’s effort against the Buccaneers. They faced a 21-point deficit, scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.
But the Bills may need to play the final four games of the season with a hobbled Allen. He was hurt near the end of the loss on Sunday, limping through the team’s final drive and overtime and later wearing a walking boot.
Allen is set to undergo testing on Monday, but expressed confidence that he would not need to miss any time.
“Finished the game on it, so I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal,” Allen said, via ESPN.