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Buffalo Bills Rulings Review (2022): Week 12



Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, having brought a second straight Buffalo Bills win at Ford Field. On Thursday afternoon, the Bills once again went to Michigan, this time to take on the Detroit Lions. Buffalo won again, this time requiring a last-second field goal to beat Detroit 25-22. Although it was the same result as the previous week, Clete Blakeman’s officiating crew stood in sharp contrast to Adrian Hill’s the week prior.

Blakeman is one of the NFL’s best and most experienced referees, having worn the white hat for 12 seasons. It was not surprising to see him on a Thanksgiving game, which are traditionally some of the most-viewed games of the season. His crew did a quality job in a really close game, something that is neither easy nor guaranteed.

It was a relatively clean game from a penalty perspective. There were only eight accepted penalties in the game. The Buffalo Bills had five of them, which set them back only 36 yards. They had just one offensive penalty, a 10-yard holding call. Their other four fouls came on defense, costing them 26 yards. Having just 36 penalty yards on a short week with minimal practice is a testament to the quality of Buffalo’s coaching staff.

Detroit also played a relatively clean game. The Lions only committed three fouls for 32 yards. They had a five-yard false start on offense and two additional defensive penalties for 27 yards.

As such, there really aren’t that many controversial plays to talk about in this piece. I’ve shortened the article from five to three plays, and here they are:

1.) Defensive Pass Interference, Detroit. Q3, 10:06.

This was the first penalty of the game on the Lions, and it ended up having a huge impact on the game. On this 3rd and 7, Josh Allen tried to hit Stefon Diggs on a deep post route, but threw the ball behind his receiver. Cornerback Jerry Jacobs was a half step behind Diggs in good coverage, but the ball placement really impacted his ability to defend the receiver.

Both Diggs and Jacobs were running at full speed toward the middle of the field. When the ball was thrown behind Diggs, Jacobs grabbed the receiver’s hip and turned it, impacting his ability to adjust to the throw. This is pass interference, even if there’s a fairly good chance that Diggs wasn’t going to make the catch.

2.) Defensive Pass Interference, Buffalo. Q3, 00:56.

An unusual call, but another correct DPI call. This was the first play of a Detroit drive in Buffalo Bills territory, and they dialed up a weird fake end-around pass.

The fake was well-executed, and running back Justin Jackson had a lot of open space. Wide receiver Tom Kennedy, the player tasked with throwing the ball, threw a pass well behind Jackson, who attempted to come back to the ball.

Much like the previous play, the location of the pass impacted the call. Taron Johnson never turned his head to find the ball, and because of that, focused on the receiver. He interfered with Jackson long before the ball arrived and, although this was a very strange play, pass interference was the correct ruling.

3.) Roughing the Passer, Detroit. Q4, 3:26.

This was one of the most impactful calls of the game. Down three and faced with a 2nd and 10 from the Detroit 15-yard line, Josh Allen tried to hit Stefon Diggs along the left sideline. Diggs almost made an incredible catch, and cornerback Mike Hughes did well to prevent the receiver’s second foot from coming down in bounds.

Initially, the CBS broadcast failed to pick up the fact that there was a flag on the field. It was only after showing a series of replays of the sideline play that the camera cut to Clete Blakeman, who announced a roughing the passer penalty on defensive lineman Austin Bryant.

Bryant absolutely did not need to throw Josh Allen to the ground after the quarterback released the ball. It was an unnecessarily late hit that should be called regardless of quarterback. The only noteworthy piece related to this play is that Blakeman — the referee and the official that is largely responsible for roughing the passer — did not throw the flag. Umpire Tab Slaughter (who has a phenomenal name) did.

Allen looked directly at the referee, who did not throw his flag. I’m not sure why Blakeman didn’t consider this a foul from his position, but sometimes officials miss things. It’s a testament to the quality and trust of his crew that a crewmate came in and got it right.


Overall, Blakeman’s crew did a very good job on a close game. Short weeks are weird. Limited practice often means teams are underprepared, leading to strange plays and lots of penalties. Blakeman’s crew didn’t have that type of game, but they called what they needed to. They were consistent on defensive contact downfield, pre-snap penalties, and remained in control the entire time.

Next week, the Buffalo Bills play again on Thursday, this time at night and in Massachusetts. Buffalo visits New England in a massive divisional matchup and, hopefully, a quality officiating crew will join the teams. Go Bills.

Featured Image: Yahoo Sports

Blake Parnham is a sports official and a die-hard Buffalo Bills fan. Blake is an advocate for reducing the abuse directed at officials in amateur sport. On gameday, you can find him in his backyard at the Bills Helmet Bar, in Keswick, Ontario.