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Examining the late-game chaos in Bills - Seahawks MNF thriller

Specific analysis of the final three plays of the Bills’ Week 9 game on Monday Night Football.

Unfortunately, a myriad of referring gaffes took away a fascinating Bills - Seahawks clash on Monday Night Football, the most thrilling game thus far in the 2016 regular season.

I know, you know, heck, even senior VP of NFL officiating Dean Blandino knows that the refs were at fault for the comedy of errors that occurred at the end of the first half.

No need to analyze that.

How about at the end of the game? Despite all that transpired in the first 58-plus minutes of the game, the Bills’ persistence led them to a 1st and goal from Seattle’s 10 yard line with slightly over one minute remaining.

After a three-yard LeSean McCoy run, this happened:

2nd and Goal

Posted by Chris Trapasso on Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What I’m focusing on here is the late hit on Taylor. Yes, when he’s outside the pocket and running with the football, by rule, he’s no longer “viewed” as a quarterback.

But you’ll notice that the moment Taylor hits the ground, Seahawks defensive lineman Damontre Moore is two yards away and beginning to crouch toward the ground.

His hit is decently late and lands directly on Taylor’s helmet as he’s laying on the turf. A few Bills’ offensive linemen thought a flag should have, or at least could have been thrown.

While I don’t think it was an egregious miss by the officials, I’ve undoubtedly seen much less get called when a quarterback — or a running back for that matter — is hit by a secondary defender after he’s tackled.

3rd and Goal

Posted by Chris Trapasso on Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Ironically, a blatantly missed call on the Bills ending up costing them.

Watching that video, you’ll notice — and you probably noticed live — John Miller’s clear false start.

It wasn’t called.

Jordan Mills may have been expecting a false start penalty. Even if he wasn’t, he was clearly the last Buffalo offensive linemen to react to the snap, which led to Cliff Avril essentially getting a free run at Taylor to get the enormous sack.

There’s undoubtedly a chance Miller’s sudden movement before the snap had nothing to do with Mills on the play, and the Bills right tackle was simply late to get into his kick slide.

Throwing any speculation aside... another missed call.

Just bad luck for the Bills.

4th and Goal

Posted by Chris Trapasso on Tuesday, November 8, 2016

After the field goal disaster at the end of the first half, this is the play everyone is talking about.

Yes, it’s true... illegal downfield contact is eliminated when a quarterback leaves the pocket. Fair or unfair — that’s the current rule. But if you watch (and re-watch) that play, you’ll see that Sherman first made contact with Powell right as Taylor was on the “edge” of — or actually inside? —the tackle box set by Cordy Glenn. Remember, the NFL defines the “pocket area” as this:

“A point two yards outside of either offensive tackle and includes the tight end if he drops off the line of scrimmage to pass protect. Pocket extends longitudinally behind the line back to offensive team’s own end line.”

Here’s a great shot from @YardsPerPass on Twitter:

There could be room for interpretation here, as the angle of the aerial video makes it difficult to perfectly draw the tackle box backward.

Now, I’m not sure if being “on the edge” of the tackle box equates to a quarterback being “outside” the tackle box, but my thought on where Taylor was when the hit happened remains.

Also, there’s no way the referee at the bottom of the screen who decided not to call a penalty on Sherman could have seen if Taylor was inside or outside the pocket when the hit occurred. Anticipating a call — or a no-call -- is probably not the best refereeing practice.

Beyond that, there obviously could have been a call on free safety Earl Thomas, who bumped Robert Woods as he came across the middle in the end zone. In the NFL 30 years ago, no way that action would have resulted in a penalty. In today’s NFL... we see that type of play whistled for pass interference or illegal contact often.

Lastly, as a friend pointed out to me, the Seattle defensive back at the top of screen tries a similar tactic to Sherman when he noticed Taylor drifting out of the pocket, but, instead of simply blasting the Buffalo wideout he was covering — actually LeSean McCoy — he held onto him and pushed him out of bounds.

Start reading at the beginning of the highlighted text, and continue until the end of the entire sentence:

Sean Wagner McGough on Twitter

“...but the restriction on defensive holding remains in effect.”

Easy-to-see holding... missed. But, hey, what can you do?

On NFL Network’s show Good Morning Football on Tuesday, Kyle Brandt speculated that, like most teams, referees get intimidated when they go up to Seattle.

I don’t think that’s a crazy opinion. At all.