A missed unnecessary roughness penalty coupled by the referees failing to reset the play clock on a successful field-goal attempt played a role in the Bills' loss.
Dean Blandino, NFL senior vice president of officiating, said on NFL Total Access Endgame after the game that the referees made two mistakes in the bizarre sequence just before halftime.
"The referee didn't think that the contact was severe enough, he felt that players were coming together and he just didn't think it was a foul," Blandino said. "We looked at it, it is a foul."
On the ensuing field-goal attempt, the referees flagged the Bills for delay of game even though an official was over the ball with less than 10 seconds remaining on the game clock. Blandino said referees need to reset the game clock if they're handling the ball with fewer than 20 seconds left on it.
For posterity, let's try to break down the entire sequence of events before we all try to forget it ever happened:
- Somehow, a personal foul for unnecessary roughness wasn't called. Blandino confirmed this was a mistake.
- Carpenter briefly writhed on the field in pain, but popped up and appeared to be fine once the trainers came out to talk to him.
- Because the Bills were out of timeouts, the Bills were charged a "fourth timeout" and Carpenter was forced to leave the game. So the Bills were heavily punished for having their kicker get taken out at the knees. If the unnecessary roughness penalty had been called correctly, Carpenter would not have been forced to leave.
- This is the point that Ryan lost his mind the first time. For some reason, the Bills players got confused and started running off the field with three seconds left. This inspired my favorite quote of the year from referee Walt Anderson.
"The half is not over! The half is not over! There's three seconds left on the clock!" Anderson pleaded like a parent trying to round up his children for dinner.
- Buffalo's coaching staff had the presence of mind to remove Carpenter from the game and spike the ball with one second left.
- Carpenter then got on the field and nailed a 48-yard field goal, but the play didn't count. The Bills were called for a delay of game penalty. That penalty happened in large part because the officials didn't set the ball down until roughly five seconds were left on the play clock.
- Carpenter then missed his 53-yard field-goal attempt. Of course.
"We're absolutely going to address it," Blandino said. "... We want to see what happened and just walk through the steps of where the breakdown was. So regardless of the outcome of the game, we're going to address the situation with our crew."
After the game, Ryan relayed an exchange he had with Sherman following a third quarter interception.
"He's mean-mugging like he's always doing and whatever," Ryan said. "It was a ridiculous play, no question. Then he's over on the sideline basically taunting us, so I had some words. I think I said 'You're too good a player to act like an ass.' "