1 - Benjamin’s beautiful TD overturned by controversial call
Sunday’s touchdown that was stripped from Kelvin Benjamin was the latest controversial catch to be overturned. This is happening all around the NFL, and Buffalo was the latest victim against New England.
Bills quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, threw a four-yard pass to wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, that was initially ruled a touchdown on the field. After a lengthy replay, the call was reversed and ruled incomplete.
“When the receiver got confirmed control of the football, he was not able to get both feet down in bounds,” referee Craig Wrolstad said. “So, his back foot was already off the ground and it stepped out of bounds. His firm control did not occur until after he had one foot off the ground.”
The displeasure with the call being overturned was heard throughout the league. FOX Sports NFL and college football rules analyst, Dean Blandino, posted a video explaining the controversial play. Blandino served as the league’s VP of officiating from 2013-2016. He was adamant that Benjamin’s TD should have stood.
Blandino’s opinion seemed to be the common consensus throughout the league. Bills head coach, Sean McDermott, wasn’t a fan of the call either.
“I’m at a loss. I’m at a loss really. I saw it as a touchdown,” said McDermott. “Other than that I’m at a loss for how a play like that can get overturned.”
The two-minute offense Buffalo ran to set up that play was exceptional. They marched over 70 yards in under two minutes to get the ball on New England’s four-yard line with six seconds left in the first half.
“I thought it was great in terms of management of the clock and being able to execute at a high level with six seconds left,” said McDermott. “A great throw and what appeared to be a great catch.”
After Benjamin’s TD was ruled incomplete after replay, only two seconds remained in the half. Kicker, Stephen Hauschka, ended up nailing a 23-yard field goal. Though, players on Buffalo’s offense weren’t happy to have six points taken away.
“It’s just crazy, man. You put so much into it and you get robbed like that,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “Come on, that’s a touchdown.”
If upheld, it would’ve marked Benjamin’s second TD since joining the Bills. The receiver let his teammates do the talking, as he handled the situation as good as possible.
“The referee made the call and you have to live with that,” said Benjamin. “We just had to move on and come out in the second half and try to put up some points on the board. You can only control what you can control. You have to keep playing and move on from there.”
2 - Offense connected on big plays in passing game
The Bills are one of the most active teams in the NFL when it comes to throwing downfield. On Sunday, they took their shots and connected on multiple occasions.
According to ESPN NFL Matchup, Buffalo is sixth in the league with the most pass attempts 20-plus yards downfield.
Quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, was flinging the football around against the Patriots in Week 16. Some of his big gains included: 46, 39, 35, and 33-yard pass plays.
“I thought we had some good drives the first three quarters of the game,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “Particularly right before the half.”
One of the players responsible for reeling in the big receptions was wide receiver Deonte Thompson. His most notable was a 33-yard play on third-and-two with 33 seconds left in the first half. His longest reception of the day went for 46 yards. Thompson finished the game with four receptions for 91 yards.
Taylor did a good job of hitting his targets, but was unable to find the end zone. His final stat line was 21-for-38 passing, 281 yards, zero touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
Thompson was Buffalo’s leading receiver, but LeSean McCoy and Kelvin Benjamin were right behind him. McCoy had five receptions for 76 yards and his longest gain was for 39 yards. On that play, he just about shook every Patriots defender out of their shoes.
Right behind McCoy was Benjamin, who performed on a high level despite his knee troubles. He finished the game with five receptions for 70 yards.
“I’m just executing the plays that are called,” said Taylor. “K.B. [Benjamin] did a great job of winning his matchups.”
Taylor and company have plenty of positives to take away from Sunday’s passing attack. They’ll look to regroup in Week 17 against the Dolphins, where Taylor has thrown nine touchdowns and zero interceptions since joining the Bills.
Photos from Foxboro as the Bills take on AFC East opponent the Patriots during Week 16 of the 2017 season.
3 - Hauschka hits 100 for seventh-straight season
It’s becoming a weekly occurrence. On Sunday kicker Stephen Hauschka set another record. Hauschka accounted for 10 of the team’s 16 points against the Pats, putting him over 100 points on the season.
He only needed four points, but Hauschka has now recorded 100 points in seven consecutive seasons. He’s tied with Stephen Gostkowski for the longest active streak in the NFL.
He was three-for-four on field goals, hitting from 23, 30, and 41 yards. Hauschka’s miss came from 50 yards out, where he’s been dominant all year. It was a tough spot for Buffalo, as it was fourth-and-one on New England’s 32-yard line. Considering Hauschka’s been money all season, head coach Sean McDermott elected to kick.
“I understand both sides. Of course the aggressive side says go for it, but at the same time you want to score points,” said quarterback Tyrod Taylor. “Hauschka has been very good for us and he’s going to continue to be good for us on field goals. It just didn’t go our way.”
In Buffalo, Hauschka’s set an NFL record for the most consecutive 50-plus yard field goals made. He also set Bills history for the most 50-plus yard field goals made in a season. On Sunday, he added to that impressive list, as he’s now tallied 100 points in each season since 2011.
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