Connect with us

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills Rulings Review (2022): Week 13



The Buffalo Bills played their third consecutive game away from Orchard Park on Thursday night, traveling to Foxboro for a divisional matchup against the New England Patriots. After two consecutive one-possession wins, the Bills dominated their rivals and won the game 24-10.

Shawn Hochuli was the referee for Thursday’s game. Oddly, it was Hochuli’s first Buffalo Bills game since Josh Allen’s rookie season, when he officiated Bills at Dolphins, or what I like to call, ”The Charles Clay game.”

Hochuli’s crew tends to throw more flags than average. Last year, his crew had both the most penalties-per-game and the most penalty yardage-per-game. Despite this, there were only 12 accepted penalties on Thursday night.

Buffalo committed six penalties for 47 yards. Four penalties came on offense for 35 yards, and two were on defense for 12.

New England had ten total penalties, but a whopping four of them were declined by Buffalo. Of the six accepted penalties, three came on offense for 27 yards, they had one defensive pass interference for 22 yards, and they had two special teams infractions for 13.

There were several strange plays and odd rulings from the Thursday night game, and here are the five I’d like to talk about the most:

1.) No Call for Offensive Holding. Q1, 12:51

This was the second offensive snap for Buffalo. Facing a 2nd and 10, Josh Allen hit Stefon Diggs on the right side of the field for a big gain and a first down. David Quessenberry, filling in at left tackle, had to protect Allen’s blind side as the play developed.

We’ve all seen this type of contact flagged for holding in the past. It looks like Quessenberry has a grasp on pass rusher Deatrich Wise Jr. as he pressures Allen.

The reason why this play is noteworthy isn’t the contact, but the point in the game in which it occurs. Close plays like this that happen early in the game are the most important for officials to have a good look at; the ruling that a crew makes will set the tone for the rest of the game. By not throwing a flag here – whether right or wrong – Hochuli’s crew told the players that they would allow this type of contact for the rest of the game.

It certainly seemed like the Buffalo Bills took note of that; they only committed one offensive holding foul, the blatant flag on Tommy Sweeney that negated a deep touchdown. New England, however, committed five offensive holding penalties, two of which were declined. Perhaps they saw what Quessenberry was allowed to do and took it a step further, and were penalized for it accordingly.

2.) Offensive Pass Interference, Buffalo. Q1, 10:49.

A few plays later, the crew set another precedent for contact in the game. This time, they threw a flag on a close play, setting the tone for the rest of the game.

This is offensive pass interference and the correct ruling. Stefon Diggs pushed off to generate space. But, because of when it occurred in the game, it told the teams that this level of contact would not be permitted. By and large, both secondaries played hands-off for the remainder of the game. There was only one defensive pass interference foul and one defensive holding penalty in coverage for the rest of the game.

3.) No call for Holding or Running into the Kicker. Q3, 11:53.

Sometimes, you have to punt the ball against the Patriots. It stinks when it happens, but you can’t go three straight games against them without bringing out the punter.

This ended up being a pretty weird punt, and not because of where the ball landed. On the play, Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai rolls up on Sam Martin’s plant leg, resulting in an injury to the punter. Tavai takes out Martin’s leg just as the punter is landing and, at the time, I was frustrated there wasn’t a penalty on New England.

Upon watching the play again, Tavai lands there because he is thrown there. Jaquan Johnson was the blocker on the play, held the rusher, and threw him to the ground where his punter happened to land. Seeing this action, and not just the contact on the punter, I’d argue this should have been a holding penalty on the Buffalo Bills special teams unit. Let’s just hope Sam Martin is alright.

4.) Interception vs. Incompletion. Q3, 9:17.

This was the play that had everyone talking and debating. First of all, the NFL has a wildly inconsistent interpretation of catch/no catch from season to season and even from game to game. What was a catch last year might be ruled incomplete now, and what was an incompletion last week might be an interception.

This play by Jordan Poyer was always going to be an incompletion. It was the right ruling, unfortunately.

Despite the multitude of catch/no catch scenarios that can occur in a football game, the catch rule itself is fairly straightforward. Essentially, a player must (a) secure the ball with (b) two feet or another part of his body in bounds and (c) “perform an act common to the game” like turning upfield or tuck away the ball. However, there are additional notes, and note number two relates specifically to this play.

“If a player who has satisfied (a) and (b), but has not satisfied (c), contacts the ground and loses control of the ball, it is an incomplete pass… if he regains control out of bounds.”

This is the exact scenario that happened on this play. Poyer did secure the ball with two feet in bounds, fulfilling both (a) and (b), but he hadn’t yet performed an act common to the game. When he contacted the ground, he did lose control the ball. It never hit the ground, but he regained control of the ball out of bounds… This is an incomplete pass.

It sucks for Poyer. Had this play occurred in the middle of the field, it’s a pick. The ball never hit the ground, but the fact that the regaining of control happened out of bounds means he never fully completed the catch on the field of play. Though it was initially ruled an interception, it was a good job by the sky judge immediately reversing it rather than going into the cumbersome review process.

5.) Disqualification, Buffalo. Q4, 2:59.

Just as I talked about the timing of certain penalties earlier, the timing of this play is likely what wrongly made the crew disqualify Damar Hamlin. On the play, quarterback Mac Jones threw a proverbial “hospital pass” late across the middle to wide receiver Jakobi Myers. Because it was late, Hamlin was able to close on the play, and hit Myers with his shoulder.

Whether fans like it or not, this was always going to be a flag. Myers was a defenseless receiver and Hamlin hit him hard with his shoulder. It sucks, but it’s a penalty.

It’s never a disqualification.

This was nowhere near as violent as these types of collisions get in the NFL. Eagles defensive back Marcus Epps was not disqualified for this hit on Sunday. Hamlin hit Myers with his shoulder. Epps hit Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks with his helmet (and how the heck did Burks hold on to this ball)!

The Halmin play was a wildly inconsistent ruling, at odds with similar plays that happen each week in football. If I had to guess, it was ruled a disqualification because of the time in the game. “Buffalo is up 17, we’re approaching the 2-minute warning, the game is over, hey, let’s toss him.”

But this is totally the wrong way to go about officiating. If this is a routine personal foul in the first quarter, why do we disqualify the player in the fourth quarter? Time and score should not factor in to this ruling. There is simply no way they toss Hamlin (or anyone) for this hit in the first minute of the game, so why are they doing it late in a blowout?


Firstly, it was refreshing to write one of these about a game that was never really in doubt. Buffalo dominated New England, so watching and reviewing the game made for a stress-free experience. Let’s get back to that.

Secondly, I thought Hochuli’s crew was fairly strong. There weren’t any unnecessary delays, no absurdly questionable calls (save for the disqualification), and the game appeared to go smoothly. It’s what you’d expect out of one of the NFL’s more experienced officials. Let’s hope we see more of that moving forward. Go Bills.

Featured Image: David Butler II/USA TODAY 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.