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Bills 25, Seahawks 31: Referee failure looms large

The Bills failed to score a winning touchdown on their final drive, but they shouldn’t have needed one in the first place.

The Bills can’t shake this case of the Mondays. Despite Tyrod Taylor playing some of his best football and Robert Woods putting together a signature game, the Bills came up just shy of victory against the Seattle Seahawks and Walt Anderson’s referee crew.

Taylor had a strong night, routinely dodging away from pressure and completing passes into tight windows. He looked capable of trusting his receivers, especially Woods (who had 10 catches for 162 yards) and Marquise Goodwin (who had a few toe-tapping sideline grabs). However, Russell Wilson was the T-1000 to Taylor’s T-800, going 20/26 for 282 yards and two touchdowns to Jimmy Graham. The Seahawks passing offense was so effective it benched Ronald Darby midway through the game.

The real story of the night, however, is the way the referees completely botched the end of the first half. Richard Sherman jumped the snap and jumped at Dan Carpenter’s legs during a field goal attempt. Carpenter fell in pain, but the referees only called Sherman for a five yard offsides penalty, not a fifteen yard unnecessary roughness. Then they ruled that Carpenter needed to come out for a play, because he had been injured, forcing the Bills to spike the ball. Following the spike, the officials stood over the ball as the play clock wound down, not relinquishing it until only four seconds remained. They penalized the Bills for delay of game, and Carpenter was unable to convert the kick that had been moved back five yards.

That kick ended up shaping the outcome of the endgame for Buffalo. Taylor and company were handed the ball with a six point deficit and 60 yards to go. They strode down the field, converting a 3rd and 21 with an incredible Robert Woods effort, but a Cliff Avril sack on third and goal led to a fourth and goal incompletion that sealed Buffalo’s fate. Had their previous field goal counted, the Bills could’ve settled for three on that final drive and taken it to overtime.

In other words, the Bills played an immensely entertaining back-and-forth affair on national TV, and had the ball pulled away from them like Charlie Brown at the end of it all. No matter how hard they try, the Bills can’t escape their Monday blues.