NFL officials are finally admitting that they blew a crucial call in the Buffalo Bills’ 22-19 overtime loss to the Houston Texans.
Tied at 19 in overtime, the Bills had received the ball after forcing a three-and-out on Houston. After stopping the Texans, Buffalo could win the game with a field goal or touchdown.
In his first playoff game, Josh Allen showed his ability to make big plays when they mattered most by converting two different third down plays of nine yards or more. The second conversion put Buffalo in Texans territory. Facing a 3rd-and-9 from the Texans’ 42 yard line, Allen scrambled for four yards before getting pushed out of bounds. The play should have led to a game-winning field goal attempt by Stephen Hauschka, but that attempt could not come due to a flag on the field. Officials determined that Cody Ford was guilty of a blindside block. The fifteen yard penalty ultimately led to a Bills punt and the Texans winning on their next drive.
Ford’s penalty was questionable, at best, but the NFL doubled-down on their call by fining the Bills lineman.
It’s too little, too late, but fast-forward one year and a few months later and the NFL is finally saying they were wrong about Ford’s penalty. In fact, the league is using it as a case of an acceptable block in their illegal blindside block video on Twitter.
“Comes back to his own end line, and again just makes really more of a nudge block,” the official said. “Not the type of forceable contact threshold that has to be met for a blindside block.”
There is no guarantee that Hauschka would have hit the long field goal to send the Bills to the next round of the playoffs, but officials took that opportunity away from the Bills. That said, some good came from the Bills’ loss to the Texans.
It showed general manager Brandon Beane that Allen did not have the weapons around him to thrive and eventually led to the team landing Stefon Diggs in a trade. Diggs would go on to lead the NFL in receptions and receiving yards in his first season with Buffalo.
Buffalo’s franchise QB also learned from the loss.
“I think I learned a couple lessons that game,” Allen said on Good Morning Football in August of 2020. “One, not to press, being up like we were, 16-0, letting that kind of slip through our fingers there. There’s no doubt in my mind that I should have played better. There are certain things I could’ve done to help this team win that football game, and that’s going to drive me to this day.
“I think number two was the importance of a home playoff game and allowing ourselves to — well, it might be a little different this year — but having a home playoff game where you do have that energy, that excitement on your side and you can feel the momentum swing. It was very apparent during the game you felt the momentum kind of change and it sucked to be on the other side of that, for once. I learned a lot from that game. Still, every time I see highlights or whatever from it, it just kind of makes me cringe because I know we should have been put in a better position and I know I had a huge part in that. I take it very hard on myself, and I’m using that to motivate me.”
Allen’s play in 2021 helped Buffalo land the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The team would host and win two playoff games before ultimately losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship.
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