McDermott on overturned touchdown: “I’m at a loss”

December 25, 2017
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FOXBORO, MA – Bills fans woke up on Christmas Eve morning understanding that a loss to New England on Sunday wasn’t the end of the world, in terms of their beloved Bills making the playoffs. What awaits next week – a regular season finale with the Miami Dolphins – is much more important for Buffalo.

All things considered, it’s not the fact that Buffalo lost to New England 37-16 that has soiled the holiday season for Bills fans. That’s pretty standard anyway. It’s the fact that the loss will be remembered for a lousy overturned touchdown call by the NFL’s replay center. And the fact that for back-to-back weeks it was the Patriots reaping the benefits of a reversed TD call.

The Bills instantly went from wrapping up the first half with an impressive two-minute drive with a touchdown to take the lead to settling for a field goal and a halftime tie. The play was spectacular. A perfectly placed pass from Tyrod Taylor found a fully extended Kelvin Benjamin near the back right corner of the end zone. Benjamin snagged it with former Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore draped all over him, getting his right foot clearly in bounds while dragging the other behind him before tumbling to the turf. It was ruled a touchdown but strangely was reversed.

At the very least, it looked inconclusive given the ruling on the field being a touchdown. With the NFL, though, you just never know what you’ll get. In this case it was a reversal, just like a week ago when the Patriots wound up miraculously beating Pittsburgh after an overturned touchdown call. It sure looked like Steelers tight end Jesse James had hauled in a game-winning touchdown catch in the final minute of regulation. Instead, New York decided that James didn’t “complete the process of the catch” even though it looked like he had it clearly secured and only lost it as he extended it across the goal line.

That call essentially directly altered the result of a game whereas the Benjamin overturn was mostly just a major disappointment but certainly not the main reason Buffalo lost. Just one play prior Charles Clay dropped an even easier touchdown catch and for the day Buffalo went 0-for-4 in the red zone. They had their chances and failed miserably.

Funny how these calls always seem to go in New England’s favor though. Even Sean McDermott, who tried to avoid criticizing the officials when asked about the Jesse James play earlier in the week, was at a loss for words when the same thing happened to his own team.

“Yeah, I’m at a loss,” he said after the game. “I’m at a loss, really. I saw it as a touchdown. Other than that, all I can say is, right now, is that I’m at loss for how a play like that can get overturned.”

Plenty of McDermott’s own players used words like hosed, flat out referred to it as a bad call and pondered if the NFL is in on some ploy to help the Patriots win. In reality that’s a very silly idea, but it’s hard to ignore the number of calls that go New England’s way and makes those whiny Patriots fans that claim the NFL is always out to get them sound utterly ridiculous. That franchise deserves zero sympathy.

At the very least, the NFL continues to look like a laughing stock for their inability to define a catch, their continued habit of overturning calls in favor of one team and that their decisions are impacting the results of games.

No, that single reversal is not why the Bills lost. However, one play can and often has defined NFL games in the past. Bills fans can look back through the team’s history and reference plenty of instances when one play sums up the end result. Think wide right in Super Bowl XXV or Stevie Johnson’s dropped touchdown in Week 17 of the 2004 season against Pittsburgh. In this case, that atrocious call will be how this game is remembered.

This loss to New England isn’t unexpected in Buffalo’s playoff chase, and the outcomes of matchups between the Ravens and Colts, the Titans and Rams, and the Chargers and Jets are far more troubling. Regardless, the Bills heading into the final week of the season with a chance to make the playoffs should make Bills fans giddy at this time of year. Instead, even the thought of Buffalo being the closest they’ve been to ending the drought in over a decade is overshadowed by one brutal call going in favor of their most hated rival.

Spencer German
About Spencer German

Spencer German is a contributor to The Buffalo Star as well as the Bills beat reporter and sports director for CBS Sports Radio in Rochester.

Browse more articles by Spencer German.

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