After watching the travesty of justice that took place yesterday, during the Buffalo Bills/Cincinnati Bengals game, where a text-book catch by Bills receiver Stevie Johnson was deemed incomplete, when clearly, through multiple-angles of replay, all the requirements of a catch, as defined in the NFL rulebook, was obviously met. Yet, after Head Coach Chan Gailey threw out his red challenge flag, you, as a fan, all allegiances aside, knew the play on the field would be over-ruled, and the Bills would get the first down, push forward and score, either a touchdown or field goal, or, at the very least, eat up enough clock to severely hamper the Bengals opportunity for a comeback. After several minutes under the booth, the ruling was made, “ruling on the field stands.”
What these officials did was directly impact the outcome of a game with their flagrant abuse of ethics. The official who made the initial call, and who then lobbied his call vehemently to the head official conducting the replay, clearly had ulterior motives in mind. I care not to guess what those reasons might or might not be, but seeing the Bills were up by 7 and apparently driving for another score, any hopes that Cincinnati would get close enough to win or lose by 3 or less were certainly in jeopardy. This may or may not explain why this official would miss clear pass interference, defensive holding calls, and offensive holding calls numerous times throughout the game. Then as he decided to so passionately defend his call, those with the most limited of psychological understandings could tell, for whatever the reason(s) may be, this man was definitely nervous about the outcome of that replay.
So many announcers are/will be saying today and throughout the week that it’s the Bills own fault for not winning the game, that the now first ranked Bengals defenses deserves its credit. Both of these arguments are extremely valid. However, the much maligned Buffalo defenses, rightfully so with the number of yards they’ve given up through four games, put the Bills in the position, to overcome the (this season) high powered offense’s inability to move the ball consistently against the Cincinnati defensive unit, to win the game in spite of all the non-calls, long plays to rookie sensation AJ Green, and that ineffective offense still. These arguments do not care to take into account that the Bills still had a seven point lead when this call was made, were moving the ball, eating up precious time and up until this point had strung a nine minute, albeit field goal, scoring drive on their previous offensive possession. All signs pointed to one of those games where the better time that day did not win, as mistakes do kill good teams and bad teams alike. But the Bills were in position to end the game essentially. They either ran off enough time to make a comeback extremely difficult, or they, which seeing it should have been first and ten with great field position, the more likely outcome was an extreme time run-off being capped off by another field goal, or perhaps a touchdown, in any case Buffalo would’ve owned a ten point lead at minimum, with very little time remaining for a possible comeback.
It’s a shame that things like this take place in sports. Would it have been different on any other day? I have to say that this one, in this writer’s opinion, corrupt official, is in the minority and the call would have been made correctly the next hundred out of a hundred times. It was that easy of a call to make.
Yet, they blew it, and whether or not, most likely not that they apologize to the Buffalo Bills organization for such a miscarriage and yes travesty of justice is to be seen. Most likely though, they’ll come back with the typical fallback use when a call is not overturned, “We couldn’t see any conclusive evidence to change the ruling on the field,” in which case they would be lying, in the most cowardice of ways, as referenced earlier, the catch was so obviously correct it’s amazing that anyone could get it this wrong. In fact the NFL, although an explanation I’m assuming will be sought after, would be better off offering no comment, as apologies are a blight against the game and to confirm what the officials did, defend the judgment in any manner whatsoever seems to do nothing but commit perjury. In any case, the Bills, having their best start to a season in three + years, now and will continue to bear this pockmark upon their record. I hope this young group of men; these Buffalo Bills wear this injustice as a badge going forward and remember that no lead is safe, that a bad call can change any game. I hope this group wears this badge, posts this blog-posting up upon their walls and in their hearts, do whatever they need to do, to refuel an “Us against the World” mentality going forward.
Again, it’s a shame it came to this.