The referees, headed up by Gene Steratore, during last night's Monday Night Football matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots... well, let's just say they had an off night. Their bad calls, at the very least, cut both ways.
Three calls, in particular, were flat-out wrong, and significantly impacted the flow of the game.
In the third quarter, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was flushed out of the pocket to his right. As he approached the sideline, he threw back across his body and connected with a wide-open Danny Amendola, who, frankly, probably would have raced untouched into the end zone had a side judge not explicably whistled the play dead while the ball was in the air.
The play had been blown dead because Bills head coach Rex Ryan had interfered with the side judge on the sideline (which was the only fair part about how the call unfolded). The refs gave the Patriots the reception, a 14-yard gain, and New England's drive resumed from there. But per league rules, because the whistle blew while the ball was in the air, the reception should not have been awarded at all; instead, the down should have been replayed. Both teams were dinged on that call, but New England far more so.
Later in the third quarter, as the Patriots were driving for a touchdown, they rushed to the line of scrimmage deep in Bills territory to try to snap the ball quickly, catching Buffalo offside. It worked, but with a catch: per former NFL referee Mike Carey, the Bills should have been given an opportunity to match New England's quick substitutions, and the snap should have been delayed to account for Jerry Hughes being in the Patriots' backfield, which is technically an unabated to the quarterback situation. New England scored on a six-yard touchdown run on that play.
Finally, on the final play of the game (which it should not have been), Sammy Watkins caught a pass from Tyrod Taylor and bolted for the sideline, falling backwards out of bounds, untouched, to try to stop the clock. The referees ruled that Watkins "gave himself up" on the play, even though he was untouched, and allowed the clock to run out. But that, too, was wrong; the clock should have stopped because of the lack of contact, and the Bills should have been given one more play at the end of the game. They were trailing 20-13 at the time, with the ball near midfield.
Long story short: NFL rules are stupid, and referees don't seem to have a better idea of how to enforce them than the game's highly-confused fans do.