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Buffalo Bills Rulings Review (2022): Week 14

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For the first time in nearly a month, the Buffalo Bills played a home game in Western New York, taking on the New York Jets on sleet-filled turf. Sloppy conditions often result in sloppy play, and that was unsurprisingly what we witnessed on Sunday afternoon. The game began with 10 straight punts, a multitude of errors and missed opportunities, and a good deal of penalties, with 10 flags in the first half alone.

Though the Bills won the game 20-12, it was neither pretty nor comfortable. Their offense was plagued by misfires and drops, all made worse by the wintery mix. The Jets offense struggled as well, with quarterback Mike White twice leaving and twice returning from chest injuries.

The third team on the field didn’t look to have much more fun than either the Bills or Jets, at least judging by referee Alex Kemp’s frozen face when he announced each penalty. Kemp and his crew were somewhat busy on Sunday. There were 15 total flags in the game, with three penalties being declined.

The Buffalo Bills committed five penalties for 35 yards, all on offense. They did have an additional two offensive holding and one defensive holding penalty declined.

New York had seven penalties for 61 yards. Of them, they had three offensive penalties for 20 yards, three defensive penalties for 31, and one holding call on special teams for 10 yards.

Honestly, I thought Kemp and his crew had a solid game. They were busy, but they had to be; neither team played particularly well. Nevertheless, there’s a few plays from the game that are worth examining, so here we go:

1.) No call for Unnecessary Roughness. Q1, 5:20.

This was an unfortunate accident that resulted in a player receiving a concussion, but it did not warrant a flag. On a 3rd and 10, Mike White hit wide receiver Corey Davis for first down yardage. In the process of being tackled, Tremaine Edmunds ran towards Davis to ensure the receiver would be brought down.

Unfortunately for Davis, he was already on the ground when Edmunds arrived, and the linebacker leveled the receiver’s helmet with his knee.

This was incidental contact. Although Davis got hit in the head, Edmunds did not deal the blow with his own helmet or shoulder. He didn’t target Davis; he just happened to knee him in the head.

This was a really unlucky play for the Jets, and likely impacted their ability to throw the ball for the rest of the game. But it was a legal play, and was correctly officiated as such.

2.) Offensive Holding, Buffalo. Q2, 7:35.

I’ve chosen this play to defend the Shnowman’s honor. This foul was announced (and is still listed on the NFL’s website) as having been committed by the left tackle.

Dion Dawkins does not commit a foul on this play. However, right tackle Spencer Brown clearly does. It’s a tale as old as time in officiating, and I do it occasionally myself. Correct call, wrong player penalized.

(As I defend my guy Dion, I am obligated to note that he very much committed a holding penalty on the very next snap.)

3.) Offside, New York. Q2, 1:17.

This was one of the more important plays in the game. I’m not sure whether Buffalo would have actually snapped the ball, but since I love Sean McDermott’s aggression, I sure hope they would’ve.

Ultimately, they didn’t have the opportunity to, because when Dawson Knox lined up under center, linebacker C.J. Mosley thought he was Troy Polamalu. Mosley attempted to time the snap perfectly and leap over the offensive line to tackle Knox before the snap. Unfortunately for Mosley, the Bills didn’t snap the ball.

Originally tweeted by Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) on December 11, 2022.

This play would have been legal had the snap been able to occur. The Buffalo Bills’ formation was legal had Knox played “quarterback” on the down. We’ve seen the TE sneak as a viable play already this season, with Ravens tight end Mark Andrews converting a 4th and 1 in Week 2.

4.) Catch vs. Incompletion. Q3, 9:21.

This was the only real falter from the crew on Sunday. On a routine 1st and 10, Josh Allen hit Gabe Davis near the right sideline. Davis clearly caught the ball with his two feet dragging, but the sideline official emphatically signaled incomplete pass.

Fortunately, the crew fixed it. The camera cut away, so I’m not sure how it was done. But, unlike each of the previous times that we’ve seen a crew reverse a mistake this year, Alex Kemp did not announce to the stadium that the call had been changed to a completed pass. This would have provided clarity to the players, fans and broadcasters, but of course, this is also me being nitpicky. Ultimately, they got it right with minimal delay, and that’s what matters.

5.) No Call for Unnecessary Roughness. Q3, 4:45.

This is the hardest you can legally hit a player in the modern NFL. Matt Milano’s hit on Mike White was absolutely textbook. Milano led with his shoulder, he didn’t contact the quarterback in the head or neck area, and he didn’t land on his opponent with all of his body weight.

I am convinced that you cannot hit a player harder without breaking the rules. Good on Alex Kemp for not watching a near fatality and throwing the flag in panic.

Conclusion

I thought this was one of the better officiated games of the 2022 Buffalo Bills season. The weather was poor, the teams were sloppy, and yet the crew maintained focus and correctly penalized the teams for illegal plays. I’ve been critical of Kemp’s crews in the past (notably Week 3 of this year), but on Sunday, they did a very good job.

This week, the Dolphins and Bills will get Bill Vinovich’s crew. Vinovich is a veteran official and one of the league’s best. It’s not surprising that the NFL would put him on one of its premier matchups in a premier time slot. Let’s hope he has a good one.

Featured Image: Mark Konezny/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.